After nearly two hours of deliberation, the San Luis Obispo City Council voted to approve a settlement with attorneys representing roughly 50 homeless people ticketed this year for sleeping in their vehicles.
In a special Aug. 9 closed session, the council voted 4-1—with Councilman Dan Carpenter dissenting—to agree to a settlement that involves expunging all criminal citations issued for overnight parking dating since Jan. 1.
City Attorney Christine Dietrick said the new emergency ordinance passed in July will remain in effect until the end of the year, while the council considers an “alternate regulatory path.” The law will continue to be enforced through education, warnings, and citations when there is a threat to health and safety, she added.
Under the terms of the settlement, the city will also post signs to warn residents not to sleep in vehicles overnight—a major complaint made by SLO Homeless Alliance attorneys Stew Jenkins and Saro Rizzo.
“Mr. Rizzo and I are both pleased that the city is settling this in a way that serves the homeless citizens of this community,” Jenkins told New Times.
Jenkins explained that in addition to the criminal citations being dismissed, a new parking ordinance will go into effect in 2013 which, instead of creating criminal penalties, would constitute a parking ticket and only apply during certain hours of the day.
“Basically, they’ve decriminalized homelessness,” Rizzo said.