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San Diego passes emergency ban in response to surge of homelessness

Homeowners are happy but homeless activists are not

Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The San Diego City Council passed an emergency ordinance banning people from sleeping in their cars after a surge of homelessness and "van lifers."

The new law says that people will not be allowed to sleep in their cars on the streets of San Diego from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and also within 500 feet of a school or residence at any time.

"Van lifers" refers to people who are not down on their luck and forced to be homeless, but are simply refusing to pay rent or a mortgage and choose to be on the streets.

Police say that they will enforce the law only if they see numerous indications that a person is living in their car, such as sleeping bags and other signs.

The restriction on people living in their vehicles had been in force previously but was ended by a federal judge who ruled it was too vague and allowed for abuses of the law. The new ban seeks to avoid that problem by being more specific about who would be out of compliance.

The city council passed the emergency ordinance 6 to 3. Many homeowners spoke in favor of the ban while homeless activists argued that it would hurt the most vulnerable to law enforcement action.

"People who live in my neighborhood are defecating and urinating in the street" said one homeowner at the city council meeting.

"None of us can feel completely safe and secure with strangers living in front of our homes," said another homeowner.

The emergency ordinance will take effect immediately.

Here's a local news video about the ban:

San Diego prohibits homeless from living and sleeping in vehicles

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