SLO homeless win big in ticketing battle

August 10, 2012


San Luis Obispo City Council agreed Thursday to dismiss all tickets given this year to homeless residents for sleeping in their vehicles.

In April, attorneys Saro Rizzo and Stew Jenkins filed a lawsuit accusing the city of San Luis Obispo and its chief of police of discrimination, harassment and the criminalization of homeless people because of what they called unconstitutional enforcement of a camping ordinance. During their late night raids, police officers would bang on the tops of vehicles, run sirens and flash lights before handing out tickets costing up to $500 each.

In July, San Luis Obispo Superior Court Judge Charles Crandall said the ordinance the city was using to ticket the homeless was unconstitutional, and did not apply to city streets. Crandall then  placed a temporary ban on the ticketing.

The city council responded by adopting an emergency ordinance that would allow police to ticket homeless sleeping in their vehicles in an attempt to “overrule” the judge’s ban on the late night raids.

As part of Thursdays settlement agreement, the city is restricted from applying the emergency ordinance unless “there is an articulable threat to public health and safety.” The city is also required to enforce the ordinance through public information, education and warnings. As of December 31, the new emergency ordinance is to be eliminated, according to the settlement.

The city is then permitted to enact a parking ordinance that could ban sleeping overnight in vehicles on public streets. However, the city will be required to follow California’s Vehicle Code signage requirements, according to the settlement agreement.

Rizzo and Jenkins agreed to forgo a fee multiplier that would have permitted them to increase their rates because of laws supporting attorneys who work with the poor. According to the agreement, Rizzo and Jenkins can apply for attorney’s fees through the courts.

Nevertheless, in a press release the city said it “firmly disputes the plaintiffs’ rights to attorneys’ fees and retains the right to oppose the motion.”

Even though the city agreed to stop the late night raids and expunge the tickets, city officials deny that any of their actions were illegal.

“While the city still firmly believes that its ordinances and actions are legally valid and appropriate, the city made a financial decision to direct its resources and focus away from litigation and towards policies and services that positively impact members of the community affected by homelessness,” the press release says.

Signed Mediated Settlement Agreement



  1. The Gimlet Eye says:

    cities are actually making it illegal to be homeless

    (3) 3 Total Votes - 3 up - 0 down
  2. smartmouth says:

    Great job, Saro and Stew!

    (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
  3. JB Bronson says:

    I wonder how much it cost, to end up where we started?

    (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  4. hijinks says:

    It’s not city incompetence, it’s what happens when the 1% take control of government. The slocity is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chamber of Commerce, which wanted the camping homeless out of town. That’s what it’s all about.

    You seem to have missed the point that the city lost in court, so its negotiated settlement wasn’t exactly a starting-from-a-blank-slate proposition. Up till the judge’s ruling, who was right and who was wrong was a lot like what takes place on this discussion board — a lot of opinions one way or t’other. The preliminary court ruling changed that balance. The deck was sufficiently stacked against them the city had to give a lot. They did this out of desire to avoid pouring yet more money down what they now understood was a legal rathole. All in all, the settlement is a smart solution for all — a time-out for the homeless, a chance for the city to rethink how it plans to deal with things.

    (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down
  5. Ted Slanders says:

    Not only do the homeless win big, but the inherent teachings of the bible really wins at the expense of the hypocritical Christians that speak against the poor and impoverished in any way, praise!

    “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)

    (3) 9 Total Votes - 6 up - 3 down
  6. obispan says:

    This is an important decision. Without it we would be at a disadvantage in competing with Eugene, Arcata, Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica for the homeless.

    (-2) 22 Total Votes - 10 up - 12 down
    • The Gimlet Eye says:

      Maybe so, but the list of cities where vagrancy is increasing would be too long to list here. There are Obamavilles ALL OVER THE PLACE!

      This problem is much bigger than what is being discussed here. It is a deliberately engineered economic collapse perpetrated by criminal bankers and their thieving cousins in the government. Take a look at an ominous trend:

      More than 100 million Americans are on at least one welfare program, and that number does not include Social Security and Medicare.

      End of the American Dream 2012 Aug 8

      (-5) 13 Total Votes - 4 up - 9 down
      • The Gimlet Eye says:

        Nothing good comes from government:

        The federal government pours over half-a-trillion dollars per year into welfare programs; yet the poverty rate remains unaffected. [That’s because government programs focus on making poverty comfortable instead of providing tools to escape it. Governments seldom solve problems. The more money they throw at a problem, the worse it gets.]
        CNS News posted 2012 Aug 8

        (2) 20 Total Votes - 11 up - 9 down
        • hijinks says:

          “Nothing good comes from government.” Oh goodie, let’s shut down the national defense, let’s stop building roads and highways, let’s shutter our fire and police departments, let’s let the sewage plants rust away and overflow, let’s plug up our water supply lines, and above all, let’s shut down that biggest waste of all, the search for cures for dreaded diseases. Think of all the taxes we will not have to pay. Troll!

          (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
          • The Gimlet Eye says:

            The only troll here is you. Your muddle-headed thinking is the perfect example of how we have gotten into this fine mess.

            Let’s pay higher taxes! That will get us “better government.”

            Let’s increase the size of the Military-Industrial Complex! That will make us feel “safer.”

            Let’s start another war! That will show those filthy bums and increase the size of our empire (the US should be running the entire planet anyhow).

            Let’s socialize EVERYTHING! No more capitalism, no more private enterprise, no more private property! Vive la Revolution!

            That will show the stupid individualists who don’t give a damn about their neighbors or the poor!

            I say, once again, whether you like it or not, NOTHING GOOD COMES FROM GOVERNMENT!

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

        Yes, it’s all Obama’s fault. There is no cause or origin of the problem prior to January 20, 2009. Obama is also responsible for the Iraq war, the deregulated Wall Street casino, and AIDS (he’s African you know).

        (8) 14 Total Votes - 11 up - 3 down
        • Ted Slanders says:


          You forgot that Obama is also responsible for the Afganistan war, the unemployment figures we have now, even though the Republicans HAVE NOT brought forth any legislation in this area, and have blocked any voting for job bills as well.

          Lest we forget, Obama is just responsible for the entire financial crisis, period! Who cares if “W” inherited a 500 billion surplus, and left us with a 3 TRILLION DOLLAR DEBT!

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

            Bush cut taxes on people who are not “job creators” but job exporters and ran the debt (the Iraq war will cost 15 billion with “benefits”) through the roof deliberately, he admitted as much. I’d like a much more fiscally conservative president, but if it’s Obama or the neo-cons who want to rule the world and destroy the middle class (US to=Brazil or Mexico, lots of wealth, very well concentrated) I have to vote for Obama. Ryan will provide a short-term boost but in the end the Republican party is held hostage by religious extremists and fiscal hypocrites. Ryan’s money is nearly all from government contracts, a la Ross Perot.

            (1) 5 Total Votes - 3 up - 2 down
          • The Gimlet Eye says:

            Ted, there is some truth in what you say, but there are still greater truths which supercede it.

            BOTH major parties have sold us down the river.

            I can understand why you (and most people) would be unwilling to accept this idea; it is psychologically very unsettling, to say the least.

            After all, if there is no substantive difference between the two major parties, then what basis is there for democracy? Why bother to vote?

            From there, it is a short step to admitting that we live in a DICTATORSHIP.

            Therefore, so the reasoning goes, since democracy is the essence of our political system, there MUST BE substantive differences between the two major parties.

            But is this really how things are?

            Or, is this a psychologically comforting fiction which must be protected and maintained at all costs?

            (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
            • The Gimlet Eye says:

              Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and NSA during the George W. Bush administration, says that Obama’s policies in the so-called war on terrorism are essentially the same as those of George W. Bush – with one exception. Instead of torturing prisoners, now we just kill them. [He added: “I have no moral objection to that.” Hayden is an advisor to Mitt Romney who we can be sure will continue these same policies.] Wired 2012 Sep 10


              (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  7. Slowerfaster says:

    I don’t think it’s saving face, but if so it will only be temporary.. Again, Constitutional rights are not conditional and cannot be exclusionary.

    Just imagine the mental gymnastics that are being concocted in a attempt to keep an incompetent employed and out of the courts.

    (8) 20 Total Votes - 14 up - 6 down
  8. easymoney says:

    So I assume this means any parking ticket I have gotten in the City of SLO will be dismissed as well?

    (-8) 40 Total Votes - 16 up - 24 down
    • SLORider says:

      You’d be assuming incorrectly. This has nothing to do with meter violations or violations of posted parking regulations.

      (9) 15 Total Votes - 12 up - 3 down
      • easymoney says:

        Sure it does, it clearly states a
        To me it looks like they got a pass on a specific ordinance. That should mean I too could get a pass on any number of existing praking, sleeping, camping odrinances in the city of SLO…
        Why is OK for one group to break the law and not another?

        (-5) 23 Total Votes - 9 up - 14 down
        • Karen Velie says:

          The temporary suspension of the ordinance voted in by the council was for the safe parking program at 43 Prado Road and was voted in prior to Thursday’s approval of the settlement agreement.

          With the settlement agreement, the ordinance can only be enforced if a clear safety or health issue is discovered and then it must be enforced through education and warnings first.

          (17) 23 Total Votes - 20 up - 3 down

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