Unlawful Camping Ordinance

In September 2018, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its ruling in Martin v Boise. The Court ruled the enforcement of ordinances that prohibit sleeping or camping on public property against “[A]s long as there is no option of sleeping indoors, the government cannot criminalize indigent, homeless people for sleeping outdoors, on public property, on the false premise that they had a choice in the matter.”

However, the court added a footnote that provides in part, “Nor do we suggest that a jurisdiction with insufficient shelter can never criminalize the act of sleeping outside. Even where shelter is unavailable, an ordinance prohibiting sitting, lying, or sleeping outside at particular times or in particular locations might well be constitutionally permissible.”

The footnote cites another case, Jones v City of Los Angeles, which states “For example, … [other cases] contain safe harbor provisions such as limiting the hours of enforcement.” Seattle, Tucson, Houston & San Clemente have ordinances that do not allow sitting or lying upon a public sidewalk during certain hours.

The proposed ordinance would amend the Redondo Beach Municipal Code to specify the particular times and locations where it shall be unlawful for a person to camp on public property. The City Council can vote to approve the proposed ordinance, modify any terms including whether the prohibition is 500 feet or 500 yards from the emergency transitional housing facility (see map), or reject passing any ordinance. While a 500 foot prohibition would be entirely within Redondo Beach, a 500 yard limit would extend into Torrance. The ordinance would have no legal effect beyond Redondo Beach city boundaries (although Torrance could certainly pass a similar ordinance).