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Bill: Allow homeless to sleep in vehicles
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The homeless in Manteca often sleep in vehicles — both at night and during the day.

They can be found sometimes parked under the solar panel canopies at the Manteca Transit Center. More often than not they usually find relatively remote areas in shopping center parking lots or park behind commercial buildings to catch some sleep.

Manteca Police don’t make city laws to cite or run off people sleeping in vehicles a high priority although they do from time-to-time enforce municipal laws that give them the power to do so.

California Assembly member Kansen Chu wants to make it a state law to prohibit cities such as Manteca to have their police departments enforce laws and ordinances that “make the act of people sleeping or resting in a lawfully parked motor vehicle” illegal.

As such it would become legal to sleep in vehicles anywhere in a community such as Manteca whether it was a residential street, near schools and parks or in business districts.

The Manteca City Council when they meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St., will consider authorizing Mayor Steve DeBrum to send a letter to the Assembly member opposing the legislation.

Chu’s legislation entitled “Assembly Bill 718 — Regulatory Authority: Vehicles Used for Human Habitation” specifically focuses on “lawfully parked” vehicles in a residential neighborhood or business district.

The city’s proposed letter responds by saying just because a vehicle is lawfully parked “does not mean it is acceptable for people to live there.”

The letter draft points out:

uCity parking locations whether on public or private property other than campgrounds were never intended or designed for residential occupancy.

uMaking it legal to sleep in vehicles raises major issues about public sanitation as well as the ability of residents to feel secure in their homes and enable the conduct of business activity.

The letter urges the Assembly member to instead provide funding to combat homelessness by restoring funds for affordable housing and homeless solutions the state has taken away.