The City of Santa Barbara has filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit alleging city ordinances against overnight RV parking violate the 4th and 8th Amendments.
The lawsuit was filed in September 2018 by the Committee for Social Justice on behalf of around a dozen RV dwellers displaced by the ordinances.
Due to their size, the Santa Barbara Municipal Code prohibits RVs from parking on city streets from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m. and for more than two hours at a time during the day. Exceptions are available for commercial vehicles making deliveries, public utility vehicles or temporarily incapacitated vehicles.
Those with a disabled placard or license place may park an oversized vehicle on the city street if they have an oversized vehicle disability parking permit issued by the City.
“We feel strongly that the oversized vehicle ordinance was lawfully adopted and applied,” said Ariel Calonne who could comment on the motion directly because it is pending before a trial judge in United States District Court for California’s Central District.
The City’s motion argues that Plaintiffs lack the standing to challenge the constitutionality of the City code because it applies to a number of different kinds of vehicles that fall within certain dimensions, not RVs specifically.
“Plaintiffs have not alleged that any of their vehicles fall under the definition of trailer, semi-trailer, bus, mobile home, or three quarters ton commercial truck.
Therefore Plaintiffs lack standing to assert any constitutional challenge,” read the motion.
City attorneys also argue that the lawsuit does not allege any of the plaintiffs were actually issued a citation or had their vehicles impounded due to the City code.
Plaintiffs allege the $48 fine issued for parking code violations is excessive under the 8th Amendment, but the City’s motion argues that historically courts have upheld the constitutionality of fines in that price range.
The motion continues that impounding a vehicle is not restricted by the 8th Amendment because it is not a fine and the fines associated with having the vehicle towed are imposed to compensate companies for their services, not to punish the offender.
The motion continues that City officials do not need a warrant to impound a vehicle for back parking citations if it is taken from a public location for a law violation or to satisfy a debt to the government.
Committee for Social Justice attorney Russell Brown says a response to the City’s motion is already in the works.
“I feel confident that the lawsuit is going to move forward. We plan to respond and oppose their motion I’m fairly confident that at least some of the causes of action will move forward.”
Mr. Brown said he was already planning to file an amended claim that would dismiss some of the plaintiff’s claims and cure some of the issues brought up in the City’s motion.
In the meantime, his clients will park in parking lots, low-traffic alleys and remote Santa Barbara County property until the case is resolved.