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Judge rebuffs SLO City on parking enforcement

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A San Luis Obispo Superior Court judge has ordered the City of San Luis Obispo to immediately cease enforcing an ordinance that prohibits people from living out of their vehicles.

On June 3, Judge Charles S. Crandall issued a tentative ruling in the civil case brought against the city by a group known as the SLO Homeless Alliance. Crandall cited a number of questions regarding the legality of the city’s overnight parking enforcement efforts, and issued a preliminary injunction, ordering the city to cease those efforts.

In his strongly worded ruling, Crandall noted the court hasn’t received any declarations or live testimony, but the injunction will remain in place until a conclusion has been reached.

Though the court has yet to hear all of the evidence, Crandall wrote, the Alliance has already raised “serious issues” about the “reasonableness” of the city’s ongoing enforcement efforts, which he characterized as historically inconsistent.

“In addition to using an enforcement strategy that appears to be singling out poor and homeless people for harsher treatment, the Court is very uneasy with the specific manner in which the police have apparently been enforcing [the ordinance] and issuing criminal citations,” he wrote.

Neither SLO City Attorney Christine Dietrick nor City Manager Katie Lichtig could be reached for comment.

In March, police, inspired by complaints from businesses surrounding the Prado Day Center, began enforcing a parking ordinance that had already been on the books yet rarely enforced. Some people declared the ramped-up effort was little more than an attempt to run them out of town.

Crandall wrote that the court intends to allow discovery so that both sides can develop their positions. A case management conference is scheduled for July 24 in SLO Superior Court.

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