Legal Eagles Gather to Defend Palo Alto Vehicle Dwellers

NOTE BY NORSE:  I’m passing on some of the e-mail I received today.  I had Aram James–former public defender in Palo Alto and now a strong advocate for homeless rights–on my  Sunday radio show discuss next steps activists there are planning to fight back against the gentrification-NIMBY crowd that is trying to get police to drive homeless people out of town.
Linda Jolly is a Redwood City activist who lives in her vehicle.  I’d like to hear more details from her on her own successful appeals of vehicular habitation cites.
Santa Cruz has an ordinance banning sleeping in one’s vehicle from 11 PM to 8:30 AM which is frequently enforced.
If any folks have information to add about successful challenges or activist response to this attack on people whose only homes are their vehicles, please let us know (at ).

See  for my latest shows, and for descriptions of some of the shows.

Date: Sun, 25 Aug 2013 15:56:07 -0700
Subject: did u tell listeners about legal help for car-dwellers??

If you aint done it yet, Robert, let them know what Carrie Leroy, below, is doing.   And that her team will be looking for particular types of victims to help, as described below.
 Carrie’s actions are so wonderful that all legal business in this area should go to her and her firm, Skadden.
You can also remind folks that certain cases have already been won, so there is a lot of hope.   A friend of mine beat the City of Palo and got a hundred citations dismissed, that he got for parking his motor home there.   And I beat the City of Redwood City in 2008, on appeal, in a charge of “living” in my truck.
Several things helped:
  [1] I went to the local newspaper and got page-1 coverage.
  [2]  My appeal stressed “Equal Protection”  — truckers everywhere eat-sleep, etc. in their trucks.  They are not cited, but I was cited while napping in my truck.   This was so egregious that a friend suggested I go into court with a crowd waving signs saying “Let the mother-trucker go free!”
If it happened today I would also insist on the TRADITIONAL RIGHT of the people to live in vehicles and boats, and to camp on unused land.   People did this freely throughout history until snooty city councils copied each other in an effort to exterminate the poor.   This traditional right should be protected by the 9th Amendment:  “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.”  
Living where you have to live  is an inherent, self-evident right that goes along with Right to Life.
Government has arrogated unto itself the alleged “right” to confiscate a huge check of people’s incomes as “social security” and then  returns to us, in our old age, not even enough money to rent a small room.
This calls for a broad uprising of the people.
Linda Jolley   650-630-3021   email:
—- Forwarded Message —–
From: Stop the Ban <>
Sent: Wednesday, August 14, 2013 10:43 AM
Subject: Fwd: Stop the Ban – Plaintiffs
Dear All –

Our friend Carrie LeRoy (with St. Marks Episcopal) is building a pro bono legal team to represent plaintiffs in vehicle-dwelling disputes with the City of Palo Alto.  Please see below.  She works with the prestigious home town law firm Skadden, and she’s one serious dude and a beautiful soul!

I recommend her highly to all.


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Carrie LeRoy
Date: Tue, Aug 13, 2013 at 12:36 PM
Subject: Plaintiffs
To: Mary Klein

Hi Mary,
Could you please let the leaders of the Stop the Ban coalition know that a group of attorneys (think I’ve rounded most of them up) is looking for vehicle-dweller plaintiffs to represent on a pro bono basis?  If there are parents with children who attend the PAUSD, elderly folks or folks with medical conditions or disabilities, we’d be particularly interested in hearing from them.  Also, anyone who is on a waiting list for a homeless shelter might be helpful to us (to show that sleeping in a car is not a lifestyle choice, but a necessity).
Re: kids in the PAUSD, federal law requires that homeless children in our district be admitted to our public schools:
The McKinney-Vento Definition of Homeless
Subtitle B of Title VII of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (Title X, Part C, of the No Child Left Behind Act) defines “homeless” as follows: The term “homeless children and youths”–
(A) means individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence (within the meaning of section 103(a)(1)); and (B) includes–
(i) children and youths who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason; are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations; are living in emergency or transitional shelters; are abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement;

(ii) children and youths who have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for or ordinarily used as a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings (within the meaning of section 103(a)(2)(C));

(iii) children and youths who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings; and

(iv) migratory children (as such term is defined in section 1309 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965) who qualify as homeless for the purposes of this subtitle because the children are living in circumstances described in clauses (i) through (iii).

View the full text of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.
Among the other issues with the VHO, it is preempted by this federal law as to children who attend the PAUSD (because in order to attend, the child needs to be homeless and residing in our district–the VHO would make this impossible for vehicle dwellers).   

Mary Colleen Klein

c: 650-421-1881

Stop the Ban is a coalition of individuals and organizations that oppose Palo Alto’s ordinance that would ban vehicle dwelling.  We think the city can address this issue in a more humane and creative way.

Organizations participating in the coalition include:

Action Council of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Palo Alto
Palo Alto Friends Meeting

First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto

Community Cooperation Team
Green Party of Santa Clara County
Midtown Neighbors & Friends
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Occupy Redwood City
Occupy San Jose
Peninsula Direct Action
Peninsula Peace and Justice Center
Santa Clara County Single Payer Healthcare Coalition
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom