It is no longer illegal to sleep in your car in public in Santa Rosa. Just don't do it in a sleeping bag.
The City Council on Tuesday eliminated the restriction against sleeping for more than two hours in a vehicle after the rule in place since 1994 was challenged in court. But it left in place restrictions against camping in a vehicle, with fines beginning at $100.
The change was made to comply with a lawsuit filed by Hollie Clausen, argued the city had no right to ban the harmless activity.
The city agreed to narrow the law to remove references barring "eating, resting, recreating or sleeping" for more than two hours in a vehicle. Critics contended the changes didn't go far enough.
City Attorney Caroline Fowler said the changes would allow someone to take a nap in their car to sober up before driving home, for example, but it would not allow them to camp in their car on city streets.
"It doesn't allow you to sleep in your car for more than 72 hours in front of somebody's house," Fowler said.
Police are still empowered to cite someone for camping in their car, as evidenced by gear such as sleeping bags, bedrolls, tarps, and cooking gear.
Some council members proposed removing that prohibition, but Fowler said that was a "separate social issue" that the council would have taken up later.
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