Palo Alto officials are delaying their plan to institute a ban on vehicle dwelling after hearing complaints about the proposed ordinance from a group of homeless residents and advocates.
Planning Director Curtis Williams told the Weekly that city officials decided to postpone their discussion of the ordinance until Sept. 12. The City Council was originally scheduled to discuss the ordinance on July 25.
On Monday, about a dozen residents -- some of them homeless -- attended the council meeting and urged the council not to pass a law that would turn them into criminals. The Rev. Greg Schaefer, pastor at the University Lutheran Church, asked the council Monday to delay its discussion and consider other alternatives for residents with no place to live.
Williams said the delay would give city officials a chance to consider some of the issues that were brought up at the meeting. He said the goal of the new ordinance is to identify those vehicle dwellers who cause disturbances in their neighborhoods.
"If someone is minding his business and not causing any problems, that's not what we want to aim our ordinance at," Williams said.
Most cities in the region already ban vehicle dwelling. Palo Alto officials were urged to institute a ban by residents from the College Terrace neighborhood who complained that vehicle dwellers create unsanitary conditions in their neighborhood.
Palo Alto's proposed ordinance would make vehicle dwelling a misdemeanor that could be punished by a $1,000 fine and six months in jail.