Homelessness is obviously a major, unfortunate problem which the City of Los Angeles faces. While the city’s Skid Row neighborhood has long been heavily populated by the homeless, recent years have seen heavy expansion of the homeless far beyond Skid Row.
There are laws in Los Angeles which deal with the homeless. These laws attempt to strike a balance between the public safety and the rights of the homeless.
Can The Homeless Enter Private Property In Los Angeles?
Laws regarding homeless people sleeping in cars or on the streets have been relaxed. However, those laws don’t apply when it comes to private property.
It is considered to be trespassing whenever anybody, whether they be homeless or not homeless, enters private property without the property owner’s permission.
Can You Live Or Sleep In Your Car In Los Angeles?
It is not against the law to sleep in your car in Los Angeles. However, there are laws preventing people from “dwelling” or living in vehicles in some parts of the city.
People are not allowed to live in vehicles in Los Angeles:
- Between 9 PM and 6 AM in any residential area
- At any time within a block of a daycare facility, school or park
People in Los Angeles are allowed to live in a vehicle in non-residential areas which are not within a block of a daycare facility, school or park. However, restrictions regarding parking may still apply.
In order to be considered living in a vehicle, one must be doing two or more of the following things:
- Having things inside or on the vehicle which aren’t typically associated with the use of a vehicle, such as a bedroll, sleeping bag, sheet, blanket, kitchen utensils, pillow, cooking equipment, bodily fluids or cookware
- Obscuring vehicle windows
- Sleeping inside the vehicle
- Cooking or preparing meals on or inside the vehicle
Those who violate this law are fined $25 for the first violation, $50 for the second and $75 for any subsequent violations.
Can You Camp, Sleep Or Sit On The Sidewalk In Los Angeles?
It is generally illegal to camp, sleep or sit on the sidewalk in Los Angeles. However, this law doesn’t apply to seating facilities like benches which the government provides.
The homeless are not allowed to take up enough space to make it impossible or difficult for those to pass through a sidewalk, street or another public right of way.
The law also applies to:
- The area within 10 feet of a utilizable or operational loading dock or driveway
- The area within five feet of a utilizable or operational building exit or entrance
- The area within two feet of a fire plug, fire hydrant or fire department connection
- Bike lanes and bike paths
It is also illegal to camp, sleep or sit on a sidewalk, street or public right of way:
- Within 500 feet of “sensitive use” property such as libraries, parks, day care centers and schools
- Within 500 feet of active railways, spreading grounds, washes, subways, pedestrian bridges, bridges, tunnels, freeway ramps, underpasses or overpasses
- Within 1,000 feet of any facility opened after 2017 which provides parking, sleeping or shelter to the homeless or functions as a homeless services navigation center
Private property owners are allowed to remove homeless encampments set up on their private property. However, they are not allowed to harm trespassers or damage trespassers’ belongings.
Private property owners are generally not allowed to remove encampments on public property, and must typically obtain a permit in order to set up walls, fences or planters to block encampments on the sidewalk.
A 2007 court ruling stated that the City of Los Angeles must let the homeless sleep on the sidewalk at night until 1,250 units of housing were built for the homeless. The city now believes this amount of housing has been built, and that the ban on sleeping on the sidewalk can now be enforced. However, some dispute that enough housing has been built.
It is also illegal to stand on or sit at the entrance of any place of public assemblage, such as a theater, hall or church, in a manner which obstructs entrance.
Can You Store Objects On The Sidewalk Or Street In Los Angeles?
You may store objects on the sidewalk or street in Los Angeles if:
- Those things fit in a 60 gallon container
- You are present along with the objects
However, the objects cannot block the path of a street or sidewalk, and they cannot present a hazard to people. You also must move the objects for cleaning or maintenance.
Large items which can’t fit into 60 gallon containers like mattresses, chairs and couches may not be stored on streets, sidewalks or other public areas.
Personal items may not be left unattended in public areas, no matter their size.
The homeless are not allowed to put tents up on sidewalks, streets or other public areas from 6 Am to 9 PM. An exception to this is when the temperature is below 50 degrees or when it is raining. Tents are not allowed to present safety hazards or block paths, regardless of weather.
Structures such as sheds are illegal on sidewalks, streets and in public areas. If such a structure does not present a hazard or block a path, the shelter’s owner must be given 24 hours or more to begin taking it down, and they must complete taking it down in 72 hours. Shelters which present a hazard or block a path may be immediately removed.
Can You Beg Or Ask For Money In Los Angeles?
It is legal to ask or beg for money in Los Angeles. However, it is illegal to do so “aggressively.”
It is considered aggressive solicitation to:
- Speak to, approach or follow someone in a way likely or intended to cause someone to fear harm, property loss or property damage
- Intimidate others to give money or something else of value
- Physically contact a person or vehicle without consent
- Intentionally block or interfere with the free or safe passage of a person or vehicle, including causing people or vehicles to need to evade physical contact
- Use threatening or violent gestures toward someone
- Follow or approach someone after being told by them that they don’t want to give money or be solicited
- Use abusive, offensive or profane language which is likely to provoke violence
It is illegal to ask or beg for money in certain locations in Los Angeles, including:
- Within 15 feet of the exit or entrance of a bank, ATM, credit union, check cashing business or savings and loan association
- Public transportation
- Parking lots after dark