Santa Barbara’s Ordinance Committee voted on April 25 to move forward with an ordinance prohibiting unattended personal property in public spaces, which would allow the city to remove personal possessions in public areas after a four-hour notice. According to Senior Assistant to the City Administrator Barbara Anderson, the ordinance is intended “not to focus on people experiencing homelessness or to discourage tourism, but rather to maintain the city’s ability to preserve clean, accessible public areas and to address specific safety issues.”

The ordinance prohibits “unattended personal property” in public streets, sidewalks, plazas, parking lots, parks, beaches, or public buildings, including personal property that “cannot be immediately moved.” Personal transportation or mobility devices, such as bicycles, walkers, wheelchairs, strollers, and scooters, are excluded from the ordinance, as is property left in place for permitted events like parades and festivals.

The updates to the ordinance to include a four-hour written notice before removing property were motivated by recent cases against the City of Los Angeles, in which the courts held that removal and immediate destruction of a person’s unattended property violates the U.S. Constitution. The Santa Barbara City Council will vote on the ordinance on a future date.


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