New Developments in the San Francisco Towing and Impound Case

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As covered in previous BayLegal news items, BayLegal attorneys, our colleagues from the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (LCCR), and pro bono co-counsel from the firm of Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP, have worked throughout 2018 to represent very low-income, homeless and precariously housed clients whose vehicles have been seized for unpaid parking tickets by the City of San Francisco without hearing or legal recourse. BayLegal and LCCR have maintained that the City’s policy represents a violation of 4th Amendment guarantees against unreasonable seizures, often amounting to the loss of our clients’ sole item of property with significant financial value — and in some cases, their primary residence.

In October, a judge issued a preliminary injunction requiring the return of one of our clients’ vehicles, and finding substantial Constitutional merit to our larger case. At that time, attorneys from both organizations demanded on behalf of our organizational client the Coalition On Homelessness (COH) that the SF City Attorney significantly revise the tow and impound policy in keeping with the implications of the preliminary injunction. In the two months since then, the City has refused to take action.

This week, BayLegal and LCCR filed suit on behalf of COH, extending our challenge to City policies to include the towing and impounding of RVs used as primary residences. This story by Laura Waxmann in the San Francisco Examiner details our challenge, and provides some context on the impact of the City’s policy, which disproportionately affects people who sleep in their vehicles.

Watch this space for additional updates on the case and related media coverage.