Los Angeles is Attempting to Fix Its Homeless Car Parking Problem

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
los angeles is attempting to fix its homeless car parking problem

Homelessness is an issue in all major cities across the U.S., but it’s particularly acute in large ones fortunate enough to have a pleasant climate year-round. Los Angeles has both of these attributes, and that means there’s quite a large homeless population. A recent article from the LA Times caught my eye.

With over 6,000 homeless people sleeping in their cars every night, the city is enacting a new ordinance to give them somewhere to (legally) park.

The ordinance takes effect next Monday, February 6th. For the first time, it will be legal to park in the street and sleep overnight in a car. The ordinance was pitched as beneficial to the homeless population; legalizing something they’ve already been doing illegally. Certain streets will now be designated by the city as being okay for overnight parking, providing legal spaces for those living in their cars.

But when the map for the ordinance was published, it reflected only 10 percent of city streets being designated for car lodging. The map appears to have built-in inaccuracies as well.

From the Times:

Officials had said homeless people could park in commercial and industrial zones. But some commercial streets labeled available on the map have restrictions on oversized vehicles, tow-away signs or red curbs.

All other existing signage restrictions on parking will still be enforced, though these restrictions are not indicated on the map. The city has a $4,400,000-plus project underway to digitize all parking signage, but that won’t be ready for two years. In the meantime, the suggestion to the homeless seems to be, “Figure it out.”

The city’s balancing act will be a difficult one. Attempting to facilitate thousands of overnight parking spaces for the homeless within crowded city boundaries, and considering the very real safety, property, and sanitation concerns of private homeowners and businesses doesn’t leave much wiggle room. Incidents like the one cited below are inevitable:

Cassandra Weinman, a social media and marketing freelancer who lives near a big Venice encampment, said a homeless man punched her in the face and took her phone when she tried to report him urinating behind her apartment.

For homeless citizens of Los Angeles fortunate enough to have working cars, using them as mobile apartments is a practical and reasonable solution. But in a large city with a considerable homeless population, that solution creates big capacity problems. And those problems are already here, right now.

With slightly less than 10 percent of streets available for homeless parking, it seems more drastic long-term measures will be necessary.

[Image: Wikimedia Commons ( CC BY 2.0)]

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  • SCE to AUX SCE to AUX on Jan 31, 2017

    What are California's requirements for safety inspections and insurance on vehicles, and what are the chances the homeless vehicles are in compliance? I'm asking because I can envision a situation where you can no longer afford your LA mortgage, but you can keep your car functional. What a terrible plight.

    • See 1 previous
    • Yankinwaoz Yankinwaoz on Jan 31, 2017

      Keep on mind that in Cal, our stupid idiots up in Sac passed a money grab law that requires that most of the money from traffic fines goes to the State. Not to the local county or city. The effect is that local police and sheriff's departments have zero incentive to enforce traffic and vehicle laws. The state's police, the CHP, have jurisdiction on the state highways, not county and city roads. Homeless don't tend to camp on highways. So the chances of them encountering a CHP officer who cares to inspect them are pretty damn low. Most often they encounter local po-po who don't care unless they are doing something criminal. Personally, I feel that this is why we have such terrible drivers down here. The blatant running of red lights, passing on shoulders and sidewalks, running stop signs, failing to yield, etc. etc. are because none of the laws are enforced off the highways. Drive one day in San Diego and you will witness enough blatant infringements that it would cover the city budget for a year if they bothered to enforce the traffic laws.

  • -Nate -Nate on Jan 31, 2017

    O.K. here's how L.A.P.D.'s NE Division handles it : The homeless gather in the North Hollywood area in the Spring when the Desert gets too hot, mostly they move whenever told to by routine patrol after complaints or on street sweeping days if the area had regular parking enforcement (it's a different Dept.) . . Come Winter the L.A.P.D. makes sweeps chasing them all out over the hill to Lancaster, Palmdale etc. where it's not really all that warmer but that's how it goes . . -Nate

  • StormEagle 400 miles range
  • Inside Looking Out Enforcing laws? It is so yesterday! Welcome to California!
  • Lou_BC You'd think cops would have an understanding of the laws they are supposed to enforce.
  • Merlyn I’m on my second Spark and love it! I can pass any car I’ve never had a problem going up a hill it does just fine. As for cargo I can fit three suitcases, two book bags and still have the front seat for a passenger. Not sure what point this guy is trying to make. I have hand free phone service and Sirius radio plug in my phone and have navigation. I would buy another spark in a heartbeat.
  • Buickman I won't own one and I'll be happy!