Judge orders SLO police to stop ticketing homeless

July 4, 2012

Stewart Jenkins serving the police department

By KAREN VELIE

A San Luis Obispo County Superior Court judge granted a preliminary injunction barring police from ticketing homeless who sleep in their vehicles, in a ruling on Tuesday.

In April, attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins filed a lawsuit accusing the city of San Luis Obispo and the chief of police of discrimination, harassment and the criminalization of homeless people. In addition, Rizzo and Jenkins noted the ordinance the city was utilizing  to ticket people for sleeping in their vehicles refers to private property and not public streets.

In May, Judge Charles Crandall took the motions under submission, ordered a settlement conference, and urged the city to voluntarily refrain from issuing citations while the issue was under discussion.

The city, however, ignored the request and instead ramped up its late night raids.

At the June settlement conference, Rizzo and Jenkins offered three different options to resolve the matter. City Attorney Christine Dietrick, who said in March that the city would beat any challenges to its ticketing program, proposed no solutions and did not appear to have the ability to enter into a resolution, Jenkins said.

In February, while homeless services coordinator Dee Torres was promoting a safe parking program for those who agree to her management terms, the city changed from directing the homeless to sleep in their vehicles on Prado Road to making it a criminal offense, Crandall said in his ruling.

“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 Standard 015 and issuing criminal citations,” Crandall said.

“These methods include but are not limited to, the use of late-night police forays needlessly utilizing flashing lights, blaring horns, intimidation, threats and other scare tactics,” Crandall added. “These methods are apparently designed not only to force legal compliance, but to also intimidate plaintiffs into leaving the city altogether.”

In March, amid complaints that the ticketing of the homeless was unconstitutional, the city council voted to approve the CAPSLO pilot parking program. The program allows five cars to park overnight in the Prado Day Center parking lot without being ticketed for having homeless sleeping inside.

San Luis Obispo County Supervisor Adam Hill, a proponent of the more aggressive ticketing, asked the council not to heed public comments by members of the public who opposed Torres’ proposal because the issue of homelessness is too complicated for most lay people to understand.

The handful of homeless permitted to utilize the parking program are required to sign over 70 percent of their income to homeless services to be used in securing housing. In addition, homeless services then charges the client $12.50 in administration fees.

For example, a homeless man on general assistance, $315 per month, would be left with $82.

On June 22, the city launched the parking program filling all five spots. However, two of those utilizing the parking program have already dropped out because of the cost.

Kimberly Frey-Griffen, 43, served in Desert Storm and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. For the past 10 months, she has been homeless. She decided to participate in the safe parking program, but has already dropped out.  Frey-Griffen said she is unable to maintain her vehicle and cover her living expenses with the monies left over after doling out 70 percent to homeless services.

“The 70 percent is a little too high,”  Frey-Griffen said. “You have to give us something to live on. Dee Torres said there would be a sliding scale, but that is not true.”

“Homelessness is not a criminal offense, however, you get the feeling that you are,” Frey-Griffen said. “I am very happy about this ruling.”


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37 Comments

  1. Mr. Holly says:

    Let me see now, the judge has ruled that the homeless can now park their RV’s on the streets of San Luis Obispo and not be ticketed. Great! Does that now mean that I can park my motorhome on the streets of San Luis Obispo and spend the weekend their? Or am I going to be ticketed because I’m not homeless. Will this be a case law issue which will now allow me to sleep in my motorhome overnight at Avila Beach or along the coast at Cayucos or San Simeon?
    Way to go Judge, please treat the rest of us the same as the entitlement people. Or is this going to be selective enforcement where we will pick and choose who and what the system wants to enforce. Another decaying moment for society.

    (-4) 22 Total Votes - 9 up - 13 down
    • Cindy says:

      You’re missing the point. They are parking legally. Anyone can park on that street including you. What the city has been saying is that the cars and RV’s that are legally parked may not contain citizens sleeping in those cars. If you want to go down there and park and sleep in your car, you may now do so without police harassment. You probably have a nice warn safe home and a bed to sleep in so I doubt you’ll be found in your car anytime soon but not to worry, no one is violating your own parking privileges.

      (3) 19 Total Votes - 11 up - 8 down
    • bobfromsanluis says:

      From what is being reported here and other places, the judge’s ruling only affects the ordinance within the city limits. To assume that you can go to Avila, Cayucos or San Simeon and not get a ticket isn’t being very thoughtful; those communities have had parking regulations on the books for quite some time and have never had a legal challenge based on a perception that those laws were unfairly targeting homeless people as the challenge to this San Luis Obispo ordinance is based on. Not an equal comparison.

      (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
      • Mr. Holly says:

        You are correct regarding the ordinance for SLO. Although this ruling could be the basis for a hearing on other parking regulations pertaining to sleeping in cars. This could certainly be a good “case law” decision. If Judge Crandall declares this to be harassment, discrimination and whatever ideas he has would it only pertain to SLO? I think it could possibly be a good challenge then to all sleeping in vehicle ordinances. Or are we going to have selective laws for selective people in selective areas to achieve the political response that some people may want?
        Maybe some of these people should park on Avila Valley Dr. it would be a very nice suitable area for overnight RVing.

        (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
        • SLORider says:

          First, case law extends only to lower courts. Since this case is in SLO County courts, it could only apply within the county unless it is later appealed and ruled on by a higher court.

          Second, the case chiefly deals with a specific SLO city ordinance and unconstitutional selective enforcement. The former would not apply to other jurisdictions, though the latter applies nationwide.

          While future cases may use this as a model (presuming this case actually prevails when the full hearing and final ruling occur), I don’t see this case being used as case law elsewhere, especially outside the county.

          Have you read the entire opinion? It’s fairly interesting.

          (1) 9 Total Votes - 5 up - 4 down
    • kwake says:

      I think we should give the Rizzos address. since he has suck a good heart, they can go park in front of his house and pee in his yard!

      (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
  2. Ted Slanders says:

    PRAISE JESUS FOR THIS EVENTFUL OUTCOME!!!

    Well, true Christians, it’s about time, isn’t it? Whew, I thought SLO County was inundated with minions of Satan, but finally, a judgment from a true Christian Judge, Charles Crandall, that would obviously be approved by Jesus Himself is done for the homeless! Notwithstanding, let us not forget about the true Christian acting Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins as the impetus of this godly event.

    The Satanic Adam Hill, and the commingling of him and Dee Torres for seemingly financial gain to be made from the poor, as described, is ungodly to the core! The SLO City Council, the Police Chief, the police that were involved in the raids, Christine Dietrick, the aforementioned Adam Hill and Dee Torres, are not Christian like in any sense of the term. If they are alleged Christians, then they are total and outright hypocrites to the faith and will be disgracefully judged to Hell by our God upon their demise!

    I am sure that Jesus is as sick and tired as I am in seeing this faction go directly against the teachings of our Savior. How can this faction mentioned above sleep at night, how can they look at themselves in the mirror, all the while knowing that they are going directly against the word of Christ with their ungodly former actions ?

    Jesus said; “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.” Galatians 2:10

    Jesus said: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Protect the rights of all who are helpless.” ( Proverbs 31:8)

    “For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.’ (Deuteronomy 15:11)

    Thank you Superior Court Judge Charles Crandell, Saro Rizzo, and Stew Jenkins for a job well done in the name of Jesus the Christ!

    Oh, alleged Christians that don’t believe in the teachings of Jesus as described herein, click on the “dislike button” below. Thank you for your Satanic and hypocritical participation in voting in this manner.

    (-14) 34 Total Votes - 10 up - 24 down
    • SLOTECH90 says:

      I;m not to sure what jesus has to do with all of this! Seems to me if the magic sky man were real, none of this would be happening to begin with,. I’ve been opening my hand (and more) to the homeless, needy, et al for decades, and being an atheist don’t apparently require bronze age mythological beings to do it By the way, why isn’t the sky god (or the Govt) taking care of the housing needs of a veteran? They make a big deal about, thank you for your service, call them heros, and other meaningless
      platitudes, but 20 years or less later, the hell with em. Same with Nam. Things like this get better when humanistically inclined people who care about others because its the right thing to do, organize a plan to deal with it. If this species, nation, etc is going to progress, we as the participants are going to have to do the work because there is no Mr. Deity up there to do it for us.

      (12) 14 Total Votes - 13 up - 1 down
      • Ted Slanders says:

        SLOTECH909,

        Oh, quit your complaining! You’ve been opening your hand to the homeless because our God is telling you to do so! Get it? He is letting you act like a true Christian. In doing so, He is trying to tell you to become one of us, therefore, obtaining salvation!

        Our God is always testing us to see what we’ll do in situations. Think about it, He has nothing else to do up there in heaven, so like the puppets we are in His behalf, we are His entertainment. Get it?

        (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
    • themarygardener2012 says:

      …and when you come up behind that car with the bumper sticker, “What would Jesus do!” …tell yourself he’d get his ass out of the car and WALK!!!!

      (4) 12 Total Votes - 8 up - 4 down
      • SLORider says:

        How’s that? That doesn’t even make sense.

        (1) 7 Total Votes - 4 up - 3 down
        • Ted Slanders says:

          SLORider,

          Of course it doesn’t. But what do we expect?

          Hint: “mary gardener?” She is obviously cultivating “mary-jane” in her garden, was on a high when she posted her inane response, and the rest falls into place.

          It’s so sad to watch some of the alumni in this forum try and communicate.

          (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
          • themarygardener2012 says:

            If I was smoking what you are trying to sell, I’d be a Redneck…LOL

            (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. Jack L says:

    History repeats itself.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hooverville

    (3) 11 Total Votes - 7 up - 4 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      History DOES NOT repeat itself. That’s a myth. Each historical event is unique and non-repeatable.

      (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  4. msminiver says:

    So the obvious is that the City apparently drafted an ordinance that violates constitutional law, and civil liberties, maybe dietrick missed these classes? Even if she missed these classes in law school, she would have had to been asleep for the past ten years with all the case precedence (stare decisis) set against this type of Draconian or Arizonian class warfare on the poor. Since, when is all right to discriminate against people because of their socio economic status? Maybe dietrick thinks we should just round them all up and put them into a camp to ensure that public health and safety are addressed as she deems appropriate? Maybe, next she will draft an ordinance outlawing promiscuity and the levities of the drink that commonly are associated with that activity? Since we all know that promiscuous people carry diseases and could affect the public health and safety of our community (Sarcasm). Maybe dietrick will require all buildings to have separate, but equal restroom facilities in all commercial buildings in town? I think we have been there historically in this country and abroad. What an outlandish position the City council and apparently morally inept city administration has taken. For a Chief of Police, Gessel to actually order his staff to enforce a likely unconstitutional law and risk untold millions in civil rights lawsuits is inexcusable. Oh yes, Gessel is originally from Arizona where violating people’s rights seems to be acceptable.
    Anyone in society can find themselves being homeless, especially during these bleak economic times. Being homeless is not a crime! Now, if criminal activity associated with some less than desirable people is an issue, then address those individuals and the conduct they are doing. Do not engage in class discrimination and selective enforcement as a governmental agency. Maybe, just maybe we should help our fellow man to get back on their feet and become a productive member of society. What are these people thinking at the City or are they?
    The judge has apparently given the City incredible latitude and suggested that the City leaders rethink their position, but dietrick stands fast to declare that she is the only true voice of the law. Well dietrick, Judge Crandall has spoken and you are again wrong. You have again led the City down a dark path with foreseeable financial dire consequences for the community. But wait, Katie will just declare that the City is broke and we need measure Y funds to pay for basic services! To pay for basic services because we will likely spend millions for violating the poor’s rights! Just brilliant!
    Maybe the City should hire Jenkins and Rizzo as their attorney’s to keep the City out of trouble?

    (7) 35 Total Votes - 21 up - 14 down
  5. JB Bronson says:

    Adam Hill is correct that the homelessness situation is difficult to understand.

    What is more complicated is figuring out if Mr. Hill’s comments are in any way tainted because of his relationship with Ms. Torres.

    (6) 22 Total Votes - 14 up - 8 down

Comments are closed.