The San Diego City Council on Tuesday repealed a nearly 26-year-old ban on people living in cars, after a group of disabled people sued the city, arguing the law was discriminatory.
The city has been barred from enforcing the "vehicle habitation ordinance" since a federal judge imposed an injunction in the case last year. The judge said the law was vague and arbitrarily enforced.
Councilman Mark Kersey said while sleeping in cars is not an ideal situation for people experiencing homelessness, it is often better than the alternative.
"It's certainly not a permanent solution to the crisis that we're facing by any means," Kersey said. "But 100 percent of the time I'd rather have someone sleeping in the car than on the sidewalk."
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit argued they were disproportionately affected by the vehicle ordinance because homeless shelters are sometimes unequipped to accommodate their disabilities.
The ordinance's repeal settles only part of the lawsuit, which is also challenging the city's ban on parking oversized or recreational vehicles on city streets between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. Ann Menasche, an attorney with Disability Rights California representing the plaintiffs, told council members the city was criminalizing homelessness.