What to Do If a Homeless Person Parks on Your Street and Will Not Move

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Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness Co-President offered a young woman clothes.

The increasing number of homeless people parking on residential streets in Pacific Palisades has led residents to ask what they can do about the situation.

For example, one resident wrote in an email to CTN, “Some neighbors here want people to confront a homeless young man sleeping in his car, which I’m not sure is a good idea.”

What can be done, legally?

Unless there are parking restrictions on the street, it is legal to sleep in cars, per a City ordinance effective January 20, 2017. This law states that the homeless can live in their vehicles during the day in most areas of the city. However, they must move to non-residential areas between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

At no time are vehicle dwellers allowed to be within 500 feet of licensed schools, preschools, day-care facilities or public parks. That law was updated to include sleeping in residential areas in 2019.

“A city ordinance barring people from sleeping in vehicles parked on residential Los Angeles streets quietly expired at the end of June, and LAPD officers have been instructed to no longer issue citations for the offense,” according to a 2019 City News Service July story (“Cops Won’t Issue Tickets to People Sleeping in Cars on L.A. Streets Anymore.”)

During the pandemic, according to Vehicle Dwelling ordinance 85.02, persons living in a vehicle where there is no overnight parking restriction cannot be removed, although the vehicle must be moved every 72 hours.

Only when the vehicle registration has expired beyond six months can the vehicle be cited. (To report a violation, call the L.A. Parking Authority at 213-485-4184.)

Can’t anything be done to help these people who have to live in their cars?

Homeowners and the homeless in this community are lucky because they can turn to the Pacific Palisades Task Force on Homelessness, which was formed in 2014.

Funded entirely by donations from residents, local nonprofits and church/temple groups, the PPTFH funds two social workers who focus on outreach with the homeless in Pacific Palisades. (The annual cost of a full-time, two-person outreach team is $200,000).

The LAPD beach patrol and the LAPD also help enforce “No Camping” restrictions in Very High Fire Severity Zones within the Palisades. PPTFH volunteers also routinely visit and scout out new homeless who arrive in town, hoping to help them secure services.

There is a 24-hour telephone line for homeless individuals seeking help and for community residents who have questions or need assistance in dealing with a homeless person (310- 460-2630 or email PacPaliHTF@gmail.com).

This past year, there have been seven active first responder volunteers: Santa Monica Canyon to Temescal Canyon are Sharon Kilbride, Dede Vlietstra and Greg Seltzer. Bel-Air Bay Club to Coastline (which includes Los Liones and Palisades Drive) is monitored by Patrick Hart, Carlos Rodriguez and Bruce Schwartz. The Palisades Village area is monitored by Nancy Klopper, with Schwartz helping.

Resident Lou Kamer is working on an app that the community will be able to use to send information to PPTFH on any folks experiencing homeless that need help.

The PPTFH operates on a three-year, three-pronged strategy: 1) ensure community protection and safety through effective law enforcement; 2) connect homeless people to compassionate, professional services and available housing; and 3) maximize community-wide involvement and support.

Since the beginning of 2016, the Task Force has helped 141 homeless individuals get off the streets into temporary or permanent housing.

This past week, CTN was contacted by a resident who was upset by a homeless person sleeping in the Post Office entrance area. We reached out to the Task Force and a member visited the person to offer services.

TIPS FOR ENGAGING WITH PANHANDLERS:

The PPTFH urges people to give money to organizations that have a record of helping individuals out of homelessness, rather than giving handouts.

After community meetings and much discussion, PPTFH adopted the following panhandling policy in 2017, with the motto “Make real change not spare change.”

1) Donate to PPTFH and/or other professional organizations that have demonstrated a successful record of helping people out of homelessness, thereby making a real change. Encourage others to do the same.

2) Understand that panhandlers are not necessarily homeless individuals.

3) Encourage family, friends, visitors and those from surrounding communities to refrain from giving money to panhandlers.

4) When responding to a panhandler, instead of giving money respond by giving that person the PPTFH “services card” that provides a phone number to contact the PPTFH outreach team and services. Other supportive ways of responding are bottled water, sodas or food certificates in addition to the “services card.” (Cards may be obtained from locations listed on the PPTFH website at pptfh.org)

5) Be kind and respectful to panhandlers.

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4 Responses to What to Do If a Homeless Person Parks on Your Street and Will Not Move

  1. Nina MADOK says:

    Great, comprehensive article. Thanks Sue! I will be printing this out and posting it on my bulletin board!

  2. Olive says:

    Great information on a must needed service that makes a difference in our community. We made a donation to the task force today and will encourage others to do so as well. Thanks Sue!

  3. Angela Caprioli says:

    Hi Sue:

    Is there a prior article that goes through the step by step process the PPTFH and LAPD utilize to redirect a homeless site (occupied) in a high fire hazard area? Just want to know how it’s done, besides the obvious clean up. What happens to the individual? What if they don’t want services, where do they (and their stuff) go?

    I’m the Mom of a mentally ill man, and I think I speak for all NAMI families who want to see the homeless treated as individuals. Loved the posting by RustyRedican on NextDoor today. So grateful there are those who take up the challenge; for me, and many of the parents of the mentally ill, it’s a lot just to take care f our own. But each and every homeless person I see is someone’s kid. So great to read about the compassion for the individual. Thank you.

  4. Sue says:

    Angela,

    I’d urge you to volunteer with the PPTFH. I’ve gone on several “visits” and cleanups with the group. The empathy and sensitivity they give to the homeless is amazing to watch. These are not just “homeless,” they are individuals that the PPTFH (and the social workers, paid for by the community) try to help. The PPTFH reach out to families to try and reconnect them with homeless. In my experience, the LAPD is there when volunteers are threatened–and that happened on one of the trips in which I accompanied volunteers, the guy pulled a knife and threatened us.

    Sue

    P.S. I’m not sure there’s any one prescribed method that is used by the PPTFH because each case is different.

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