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Group Files Lawsuit Challenging Santa Barbara’s Oversized Vehicle Parking Ban

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A group of plaintiffs has filed a lawsuit challenging Santa Barbara’s oversized vehicle parking ordinance. Peter Marin, chair of the Committee for Social Justice, middle, and attorney Russell Brown spoke during a press conference Friday.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

A lawsuit filed Wednesday challenges Santa Barbara’s oversized vehicle parking ban, alleging it violates constitutional rights and the Americans with Disabilities Act, according to litigation filed in the United States District Court in California by attorney Russell Brown.

The city, the Santa Barbara Police Department and Police Chief Lori Luhnow are named as defendants, and the plaintiffs include the Committee for Social Justice and individuals, some of whom own RVs: Phil Parson, Linda Trevino, Peter Beltran, Darlene Frazier, Larry Carver, Richard Paluch, Philip Marteney, Alan Schwab, Thomas Goodwin, Arthur Lopez, Andrew Navarez, Judy Atkins, Bradley Beach and Brian Volpi.

The complaint references the city's 2016 decision to regulate on-street oversized vehicle parking, and establish an annual commercial contractors vehicle parking permit for certain-sized vehicles.

Santa Barbara’s municipal code section prohibits the parking of any vehicle on public streets for more than 72 hours and authorizes law enforcement to remove a car from the streets, and prohibits parking a mobile home for more than two hours and between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. on any street, according to the lawsuit.

The complaint alleges that “Santa Barbara has a long history of targeting homeless individuals for removal from the city. Most recently, the city passed an ordinance banning the parking of all oversized vehicles, including plaintiff’s vehicles, throughout the entire city.”

It alleges the plaintiffs have been unlawfully discriminated against based on their disabilities and economic status, deprived of personal property without compensation or due process, have had their freedom of movement unlawfully restricted, and have been excessively fined to the point where their personal property is effectively taken from them, in violation of their constitutional rights, federal and state law, and common law.

“I don’t think what we are asking for is the ability to park wherever we want, we are just simply pointing out that a restriction that says you can park nowhere is going way too far and is completely unreasonable,” Brown said at a press conference Friday. “At the end of this, there may be some reasonable negotiations (and) some settlement that occurs. 

“Residents and homeowners of Santa Barbara are concerned that they are going to have an RV parked on their street and some person they don’t know in front — I don’t think that’s our goal here,” Brown continued. “Our goal is to simply find a reasonable solution that works for as many people as we can."

The lawsuit seeks an unspecified amount of damages and injunctive relief, and demands a jury trial. It asks the court for general damages, special damages, an award of punitive damages against the defendants, for declaratory and injunctive reeled and for attorney’s fees and costs.

“The ordinance effectively bans plaintiffs from the city of Santa Barbara — they cannot park in the city to conduct business, attend doctor’s appointments, socialize with friends, go to work, or vote,” the complaint says.

The size of the plaintiffs’ vehicles make them prohibited from parking on city streets under the oversized vehicle ordinance, according to the lawsuit.

It alleges that if “plaintiffs park their vehicles within the city, they are subject to ticketing and towing of their vehicle, which often contains all of their personal property.”

It also claims the city has denied all of the plaintiffs' applications for disabled permits and has denied all applications for disabled permits.

“A normal disabled person in a normal car would be able to park in the blue zone, but because they are in a RV, they can't park in a blue zone anywhere in the city,” Brown said.

No response to the lawsuit had been filed in court as of Friday. 

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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