Along a big, commercial street in Los Angeles' North Hollywood area, near a row of empty storefronts, about half a dozen motor homes sat parked on a recent morning. Inside one of them, 67-year-old Edith Grays and her husband watched TV with the door open. Grays said they'd been there a few days, despite a two-hour parking limit.
"Thank God they're not bothering us right now," she said.
It's not unusual to see clusters of campers around the city. Grays is one of the nearly 10,000 people who live in vehicles inside L.A.'s city limits. Some take shelter in cars, others in vans or trucks, but RVs are the most visible. They're also the most difficult to park — especially now.
The Los Angeles City Council recently reinstated an ordinance that bans sleeping overnight in vehicles in residential areas. The law also forbids living in a vehicle within a block of a park, school or day care. Tickets for violating the rules start at $25 for a first offense, $50 the second time and $75 after that.
Residents who support the restrictions say vehicle encampments have caused parking shortages and sanitation issues. Critics say that without alternatives to parking on the street, the rules are inhumane.
"This is a stupid law," Mel Tillekeratne, executive director of a homelessness nonprofit called The Shower of Hope, said during a recent public meeting. "This law ... is going to directly contribute to these people being on the street."
For Edith Grays, who ran a window-washing business with her husband until he had a series of strokes and couldn't work, losing their motor home is a big fear. She said they moved into it after not being able to afford rent anymore, and she takes care to avoid being ticketed or towed. When asked how much of her time is spent looking for parking or planning where to park next, Grays replied: "All of it."