Advocates for homeless people are looking to take Fullerton officials to court over a local law they say unjustly targets people living in their cars and people with disabilities.

The ordinance in question prevents anyone from parking any trailers or RVs in the city without a permit, and was implemented about a year ago according to Fullerton Mayor Fred Jung, who called the lawsuit “completely counterproductive.” 

To read the full text of the law, click here

A handful of Fullerton residents and Housing is a Human Right Orange County, a local organization that advocates for homeless people, are arguing that the city law violates the state constitution.

“Fullerton is one of many cities that are terribly cruel to people who are unhoused. We know that those who are living in their vehicle are under extreme financial and social hardship, trying to maintain their dignities and freedoms,” said Pat Davis, co-founder of Housing is a Human Right Orange County, in a press release.

“This action will serve as a reminder to our city leaders that those who have limited to no resources have important legal rights too.”  

In their filing with the OC Superior Court, the organization pointed to Frederick Clayton Moon, a 67 year old man, who suffers from extreme pain and disabilities, and he takes his RV into the city to care for his 72 year old brother Steven. Moon has been fined for violating the city’s RV rules. 

Jacqueline Danis is a 75 year old woman who has a pacemaker, lives in a van and commutes to Fullerton for two jobs, and has also been cited for violating that same law, according to the filing.

To read the filing, click here.  

Jung said the lawsuit seemed “incredibly opportunistic,” and pointed out that the city delayed implementing it until they had a chance to help RV owners get up on their feet with a partnership between the city, local churches and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva’s office. 

“We were extraordinarily deliberate about this. We spent months helping these folks get their RVs running,” Jung said in an interview with Voice of OC. “They should have had a conversation with city leadership and that’s not something that happened…You could’ve been part of the formatting of this a year ago.”

Over a decade ago, Fullerton landed in the national spotlight after six police officers beat and killed Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, a case that’s hung over the city for years.

The beating death led to the retirement of a police chief, the recall of three council members and criminal charges against three officers – two were found not guilty, and charges against the third were dropped.

[Read: Years After Thomas Beating, Fullerton Police Have New Approach to Homeless]

Noah Biesiada is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a Groundtruth initiative. Contact him at nbiesiada@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @NBiesiada.

Hosam Elattar is a Voice of OC reporter and corps member with Report for America, a GroundTruth initiative. Contact him at helattar@voiceofoc.org or on Twitter @ElattarHosam.

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