A trio of legal rights groups has filed a federal class action lawsuit against the city of Pacifica on behalf of five residents who were affected by the city’s RV parking ban.
The lawsuit argues that the citywide RV parking ban is a blatant attempt by Pacifica to banish those who rely on RVs for housing and mobility, and therefore violates the U.S. Constitution, the California Constitution and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“It’s not surprising that as inequality and the housing crisis get worse, people are searching for alternative ways to keep a roof over their head,” said Shirley Gibson, directing attorney at Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County in a prepared statement. “RVs provide shelter and safety for those who could not otherwise afford it. Pacifica’s ban is a cruel, unconstitutional, and discriminatory attempt to shift their housing responsibilities onto other cities.”
The five residents argue they have reasons — ranging from employment to family to healthcare — why they must remain in the city.
The city’s ban on “oversized vehicle” parking was passed in 2019. In the past year, housing advocates say the city has been aggressively enforcing the ban. Those who violate the ban are subject to escalating fines that reach $1,000 and up to six months in jail. After five tickets an RV can be impounded.
The housing crisis in San Mateo County is acute and many cities have struggled to regulate vehicles that are also homes. The lawsuit claims the county’s homeless population grew by 21 percent between 2017 and 2019 and that as many as 75 people in Pacifica have been living in RVs at any given time.
Some City Council members have expressed concern about such living arrangements and the effect they are having on others’ quality of life. The plaintiffs say they have no better choice.
“I have been unable to park my RV in Pacifica without getting ticketed,” said 44-year-old Jared Carr in a prepared release. He said he has been ticketed at least 27 times. “I currently do not have money for a security deposit for an apartment. If my RV got towed, I would not have the money to pay the tow and storage charges. I would likely be forced into a tent or a sleeping bag on the street.”
The suit was filed in U.S. District Court by the ACLU of Northern California, Disability Rights Advocates and the Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County. The five residents named in the suit are Carr, Sean Geary, Linda Miles, Harry Bode and Stephen Sanders. The lawsuit says each of the plaintiffs faces financial ruin due to the city’s ordinances governing RV parking.