A change to the Long Beach Municipal Code that would ban all oversized vehicles from parking on city streets could be on the horizon as the city council is scheduled to vote to initiate the crafting of an ordinance that would ban all vehicles over 22-feet long.
The council requested city staff to explore the option in October 2016 after council members Suzie Price and Daryl Supernaw presented the item and sought to provide changes that could improve safety and quality of life issues brought up in complaints from their constituents.
A central question surrounding the original intent of the item was whether or not it was aimed at criminalizing homelessness—many digital correspondences focused on homeless sleeping in recreational vehicles—but Price clarified that it was to limit “corridor blocking” vehicles that create visibility issues and can lead to traffic accidents.
City Attorney Charles Parkin had advised the council in October that any proposed changes to the municipal code could not be used as a means to outlaw homelessness and noted that several cities had had their ordinances overturned because of similar issues.
In 2004, Santa Barbara had its ordinance overturned due to the city not posting signage at all of its city entrances and more recently Los Angeles had its ordinance challenged because of the vagueness of the language.
To avoid that, city staff has recommended that the new ordinance meticulously outline what an oversized vehicle is and what specific instances such as times, locations and buffer zones that would be put into effect by any adopted ordinance.
A separate study proposed in October by Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce sought to identify parking lots that could accommodate those living in their cars. Pearce’s item was approved just one week after the council initiated the oversized vehicle study but Pearce’s Safe Parking program has yet to return to the council.
The proposed changes would prohibit the parking of oversized vehicles on city streets and require them to be parked behind a fence unless a free 72-hour exemption permit was acquired from the city’s website to allow for loading and unloading. The ban would also apply to boats and trailers.
If adopted, it would also require the city post signs at all entry points into the city including freeway off-ramps. The estimated cost for the signs and informational material to be mailed out to residents advising them of the proposed changes is $38,000.
It was originally estimated to cost around $7 million for the city to post signs on every street instead of at every entrance into the city. Enforcement of the program is expected to be complaint-based and the city does not anticipate having to hire additional staff to enforce the municipal code amendment if it’s eventually adopted by the council.
The council is expected to discuss the item at its June 13 meeting.
[Editors note: The original version of this story said the item would be discussed June 6 but it has since been pulled from the agenda and is expected to be heard June 13.]