The Los Angeles City Council this week reinstated a temporary ordinance that restricts people from living in their cars in residential areas – or next to parks, schools and day care centers.

The ban (85.02) expired at the end of June, just as City Council went on their summer recess. So during the month of July LAPD was instructed not to issue citations for the offense.

Many thought this opened the door for people to park legally overnight in local neighborhoods while living in their cars. Homeless advocates have criticized the ban, saying it criminalizes homelessness. During public comment prior to the city vote, several people expressed their opposition, saying the city is “heartless” and the rule “draconian.”

The council members said that they just needed more time to come up with a better alternative to the regulation.

Councilman Bob Blumenfield said, “85.02 isn’t about criminalizing homelessness, it is about making sure that our communities have some basic health and safety protections. Living in one’s vehicle should never be normalized – people need housing and our streets shouldn’t be campgrounds. Though the West Valley has fewer homeless people when compared to other communities in the City, my staff and I receive calls about encampments, RV dumped waste, and problematic issues related to people living in vehicles. We also see real people struggling without viable alternatives other than living in their vehicles. One humane alternative is safe parking. It is not a substitute for housing, nor an acceptable solution for someone experiencing homelessness. But, it is better than living in one’s vehicle on the street.”

To that end Blumenfield recently opened a safe parking  lot in his district office parking lot on Vanowen.