New Court Opinion Does Not Affect Santa Barbara Camping Regulations

By the City of Santa Barbara

On September 28, 2022, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the case of Johnson v. City of Grants Pass, (9th Cir., Sept. 28, 2022, No. 20-35752) 2022 WL 4492090 regarding the enforcement of that city’s camping ordinance. In the Grants Pass decision, the Appeals Court reiterated its 2018 decision in the Martin v. Boise case, prohibiting the imposition of penalties for sitting, sleeping, or lying outside on public property for homeless individuals who cannot obtain shelter, but also held that the act of sleeping includes the use of articles necessary to facilitate sleep such as blankets, pillows, sleeping bags, and similar items that provide the most rudimentary precautions to protect themselves against the elements.

The City of Santa Barbara’s Municipal Code provision prohibiting camping in public places is materially different from the ordinance in the City of Grants Pass. Unlike Grants Pass, Santa Barbara expressly excludes “merely sleeping outside or the use of a sleeping bag, bedroll, or mat” from the definition of prohibited camping. Therefore, Santa Barbara’s enforcement of its prohibition on camping in public places, such as parks and beaches, adheres to the Ninth Circuit’s instructions under this recent decision.

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