Thousand Oaks City Council approved, 5-0, updating an old ordinance on differentiating between sleeping and camping on public property, allowing the homeless to sleep on public property 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., should no other alternative be available. In September 2018, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that restrictive ordinances concerned with the homeless sleeping in public were unconstitutional.
“The municipal code doesn’t distinguish the difference between sleeping and camping,” said Felicia Liberman, Thousand Oaks Assistant City Attorney in a joint call with Thousand Oaks Assistant City Manager Ingrid Hardy. The new ordinance would bring the code up to federal law to properly enforce sleeping versus camping issues, meaning that the homeless are not allowed to erect tents, but they can sleep with bedding in permissible areas. It also allows private property owners more leverage when handling the homeless who may be sleeping on their property.
While the city of Thousand Oaks has a faith-based shelter that runs from December to April, Liberman and Hardy said that there is no dedicated year-round shelter. They also said that the homeless in Thousand Oaks had ties to the community and did not express concern that bringing municipal code up to federal law would attract homeless from elsewhere to sleep on public property.
“It strengthens the enforcement for the city, at the same time recognizing biological need for sleeping,” Hardy said, noting that it is the right of all the citizens to be able to enjoy public space, in a manner they have enjoyed.