Bloom et al v. City of San Diego
On April 30, 2020, the Plaintiffs in the Bloom case, who previously sued the City of San Diego over two city ordinances that penalize vehicle habitation, requested a temporary restraining order preventing the City from enforcing these ordinances during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Plaintiffs also asked the Judge to order the City to allow them to continue parking in beach and city park parking lots in order to have regular access to the public bathrooms and showers in those areas. Many people living in their vehicles in San Diego have disabilities and other medical conditions making them vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and complications, and vehicles spread throughout the City are a much safer way to shelter in place than congregate shelters or living on the streets.
Plaintiffs’ original lawsuit was filed on November 15, 2017, arguing that two city ordinances–one prohibiting living in vehicles and the other prohibiting nighttime RV parking–violate federal law. The suit, filed in the Southern District of California, points out that the city’s high rents and scarce shelter space leave low-income people with limited housing options. As a result, some must resort to living in their cars or RVs. When they violate the ordinances, they receive tickets that they cannot pay and may, ultimately, have their vehicles impounded–leaving them to sleep on the streets. A subclass of this group consists of people with disabilities who are unable to access and stay in shelters due to architectural barriers or other inaccessible features, making them particularly susceptible to these unfair ticketing practices.
The Judge denied the City’s request to dismiss the disability claims on June 7, 2018. The Judge also granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting San Diego from enforcing the vehicle habitation ordinance on August 21, 2018, after which the City enacted a new version of the vehicle habitation ordinance that Plaintiffs believe is equally unconstitutional.
DRA is pursuing this case alongside co-counsel Disability Rights California; Fish & Richardson; National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty; Dreher Law Firm; Manfred, APC, and Bonnett Fairbourn Friedman & Balint PC.