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Appeals Court Strikes Down LA Ban On Living In Parked Vehicles

LOS ANGELES ( — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday a decades-old Los Angeles law that prohibits anyone from living in a parked vehicle is unconstitutional.

The ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stated the 1983 ordinance (PDF) signed into law by then-Mayor Tom Bradley was vaguely written and discriminates against homeless and poor people.

LAMC Section 85.02 states: "No person shall use a vehicle parked on or standing upon any City street or upon any parking lot owned by the City of Los Angeles or under control of the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors as living quarters either overnight, day-by-day, or otherwise."

"This broad and cryptic statute criminalizes innocent behavior, making it impossible for citizens to know how to keep their conduct within the pale," Judge Harry Pregerson wrote for the court.

Pregerson wrote that the statute is so vague that it could "cover any driver in Los Angeles who eats food or transports personal belongings in his or her vehicle," but it "appears to be applied only to the homeless."

The decision came in a case brought on behalf of four people who were cited and arrested in the Venice area by police who concluded the numerous belongings in their RVs and cars meant they were violating the law.

The ruling by a three-judge appeals court panel overturned a lower court judge who had sided with the city.

A representative for the City Attorney's Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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