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Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against City Of San Diego Alleges Mistreatment Of Homeless Living In RVs

Credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

Above: "No Parking 2 a.m. to 6 a.m." signed posted in a parking lot at Balboa Park, Nov. 16, 2017.

Class-Action Lawsuit Filed Against City Of San Diego Alleges Mistreatment Of Homeless Living In RVs


Ann Menasche, senior attorney, Disability Rights California


The lawsuit filed late Wednesday with the U.S. District Court in San Diego alleges that disabled homeless people living in their recreational vehicles are unfairly targeted for tickets.

RELATED: Disability Advocacy Group Questioning How San Diego’s Overnight Parking Laws Affect Homeless

City of San Diego municipal code states "oversized vehicles, non-motorized vehicles and recreational vehicles" cannot be parked on city streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. It is also "unlawful for any person to use a vehicle while it is parked or standing on any street as either temporary or permanent living quarters, abode, or place of habitation either overnight or by day.”

The fine for parking overnight is $100, plus a state-mandated surcharge of $12.50 per ticket. The city has a temporary permit process where people can park their RV's overnight, but applicants must have proof of residency to acquire a permit.

In addition to the city of San Diego itself, the group is suing Mayor Kevin Faulconer, all members of the city council, the police department and Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman — in their official capacities.

Photo credit: Matt Hoffman/KPBS

"Stop the tickets" painted in red on the front of an RV parked in Balboa Park, Nov. 16, 2017.

"We think that the entire city government is unfortunately responsible," said Ann Menasche, senior attorney for Disability Rights California. "For the harassment and the discriminatory treatment and unconstitutional treatment of our clients and of the entire class.”

In March, Disability Rights California sent a letter to the city attorney’s office, asking for a reasonable accommodation under the American's with Disabilities Act — what they considered to be a stop to the ticketing. In September, the city attorney's office met with the city council in closed session to discuss the letter, but a spokesman said no action was taken during the meeting.

Now, after no action from the city, Disability Rights is representing nine named clients. They are also including 817 people sleeping in vehicles that the Regional Task Force on the Homeless identified during their annual homeless count this year.

“A lot of them had careers and jobs and became disabled and they should not be punished for that," said Menasche. "It’s not their fault, there’s no affordable housing.”

In a statement Thursday afternoon, City Attorney of San Diego Mara Elliott said, "we have not been served and have not seen the complaint. We will review the complaint and advise our client accordingly."

Disability Rights California is representing nine named clients, as well as hundreds of others who claim the city of San Diego's parking laws unfairly target them.


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Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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