Laws on vehicle living? CA sacromento/elkgrove (1 Viewer)

Zach

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Hi, I'm new to being a rubber tramp only been at it for 10 days. I need to know the laws as far as living in your vehicle go. I know good places to park but it would be good to know what to say if I get hasseled by cops.
 
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Dameon

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It's illegal to sleep in your vehicle on public property just about everywhere in the US. So if you get hasseled, pretty much all you can do is say okay and move.
 

eske silver

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It's illegal to sleep in your vehicle on public property just about everywhere in the US. So if you get hasseled, pretty much all you can do is say okay and move.
Actually, for all intents and purposes, that isn't exactly true. Many cities in have laws against it (or something that covers it by proxy), but many, if not most, do not, and some are even open to it! The state laws you have to look out for are the ones pertaining to vagrancy, homelessness, loitering, etc.
While it is illegal throughout most of the states to sleep in your vehicle on the freeways or highways (as it poses risk to other traffic), for the most part, the laws are rarely by state, and instead are made and enforced through the counties or cities individually.

Many CA cities look down upon living in a vehicle, though they might not actually have laws against it. There are however a few cities which beginning to be welcome to the idea (slowly). For instance, there is a small "pilot program" in Venice (L.A.) for vehicle dwellers even thought the city has had a rough and rowdy past with homeless (and for the most part is still wary about the thriving junky/ unruly hobo population), but Santa Barbara City has a "Safe Parking Program" which allots 112 parking spaces to people living in their vehicles. It's not actually meant for the 'by-choicers' like us, but it has been a major life-saver for many people and families who had to resort to vehicle living after losing their homes, and is beginning to gain notoriety and support. It's a good program to keep an eye on!
I'm most cases, the law isn't clear about rubber-trampers, but are instead imposed sideways. For instance, parking your car on someone's private property can get you arrested for tresspassing (unless you have the owner's consent) and some types of public property can be protected under this law. The law says nothing about sleeping/eating/being in your vehicle, but instead has only to do with the property itself. These are the laws you have to careful of.
In some cities throughout the states, you are required to have a special permit to park on public streets for "overnight parking" or between the wee hours in general (e.g. Pasadena 2-6am; S Milwaukee 3-6am; San Gabriel; San Diego; Calremont; More), but in other cities (such as Oakland) you are perfectly fine parking in any public space, so long as you obey meters, curb colors, and street-sweeping schedules. A similar law here in Oakland that isn't obvious for vehicle owners, is that you are legally required to move any publicly parked vehicle at least 1/10th of a mile, no less than every 72 hours. There aren't any signs posted for this law, so it's hard to miss where it applies, but make you follow it; where it does apply, it's enforced pretty rigorously and always results in towing if you don't pick up and git. I'm not sure if this is the case in all of the bay area, for all of Alameda County, or just for Oakland, but it's a fairly common one and is an important one to keep look up in any city you park in. (For more info on this law, and how to deal with it if you get the pink/green sticker/flier, PM me and I'll walk you through it.)

Another two of the "by-proxy" laws to keep in mind are Indecent Exposure and Loitering : Although most vagrancy laws have been put to rest, the practical necessities of living out of your car, like getting dressed in your car, may get you cited for Indecent Exposure. The level of exposure necessary for Indecent Exposure varies from state to state. But in general, exposing your genitals to the public, even while changing your undies in the car, can potentially be considered a misdemeanor. Loitering laws in different cities and states make it illegal for a person to remain in a public place for too long. New York law, for example, makes it illegal to sleep in a metro station; parking enforcement or antagonistic citizens may try to use these laws to hassle you for spending the night in your vehicle.

There are some cities where there aren't any specific laws pertaining to rubbertramping, but parking enforcement may hassle you about it anyway.
Know the law! Living in your vehicle is dangerous if you do it without the right information. Look up the current parking laws in whatever city in which you plan on parking. If you can't find a reputable source (city websites, Pd and parking enforcement sites, law sites) on the internet, go the to nearest library, or city hall; local law resources are (almost always) obligated to be concise and up-to-date.

It's generally best to take precaution and set up your vehicle so that the cab is separated from the living quarters (like the set-up of a box truck, RV, etc) but if you're in a truck or car, your best bet is to make sure the keys are in a bag in the back seat - with you; as a general rule-of-thumb, do not sleep in the front seats ever. Most of the laws are to prevent sleepy or drunk people from being behind the wheel; therefor it is easier to circumvent any tickets or prosecution if you are not physically able to reach the steering wheel, let alone the pedals.
Most offenses can be avoided if you look "respectable" and are you maintain an amiable presence when confronted. It also helps sometimes when you're in a new city to just dish out the coins for meters (you paid for the space for X amount of time, so you're legally allowed to park there for X amount of time).
In SF, LA, SD and other cities with a high number of homeless people, the authorities are often less understanding of alternative living situations, but I've found the trick is to approach the situation much like you would if you were visiting another country, or the family of a close friend; with respect and without ego.

1. Don't be a blight; Keep your vehicle clean; pay the 5 bucks for a carwash, wipe off the bird crap, keep any and every part of the interior that is visible from the outside tidy. No trash, furniture, etc on the sidewalk; no bikes or carts chained to your bumpers; keep everything in or on your vehicle. Not only does this make you less conspicuous and resented by public/ neighbors, it is also helpful as it allows you quick and easy leave if you need to relocate in a hurry.
2. Follow the (parking) rules; Obey ALL of the parking laws; don't park in the red (hopefully that's obvious), yellow, white or blue spaces, especially overnight; read the street sweeping signs, and move at least an hour before each scheduled sweep. Something else to keep note of, is when you park in a new spot overnight, do not let your vehicle leave your sight until you are certain it won't be towed. Not all parking spaces on the street are necessarily public property. In some neighborhoods, houses are allotted one to two street spaces and are lawfully regarded as an extension of their property; they may have legal right to have your vehicle towed. As well, be wary of marinas and parks, technically they are private property, and you can be towed on-the-spot, without notice.
In CA, parking enforcement cannot legally tow your vehicle from public property without a 72-hour notice (the pink/green sticker), but don't play with this; they keep a record of how many times flagged vehicles has been given the "warning", and if you don't move, you will be towed. And if you aren't there to move it, say goodbye to either your home, or a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars - minimum.
**Most towing companies maintain the rule that once a vehicle has been hooked up, the only way to regain possession of it is to pay the fines, often-times after they've towed it and after a mandatory holding period.
3. When confronted, don't be a dick. When you are approached by parking enforcement, be genuine, polite, calm, and humble; do not get upset or angry at them, this will only make a mess of things. You can however, calmly state your situation and bend them toward empathy.
"I just came out here from [college] for a tech job, but the guy I was renting from turned out to be a psycho. I don't know anyone else here, and I haven't gotten a paycheck yet to cover a hotel. Blah blah blah."
Something like that usually works, especially if you're clean-ish and wearing semi-normal clothing. (Note: Does not work if you look/ dress like Rufio, Mad Max, an oogle/ track troll, etc) If it is a new parking spot, (and it helps if you plates are OOS) let the officer know that you weren't aware of the laws (Note: This does not work if you are being confronted for laws which are clearly stated on a sign a few feet away) and that you'll move immediately.
Relocate, observe any signs pertaining to your new space, and follow them to the letter.
As they say - Better Safe, than Sorry.

When you follow the above rules and keep your vehicle clean, people are a) less likely to notice you, and b) Far less likely to report you.
Which brings me to rule 4.

4. Introduce yourself to Everyone. Every single neighbor has an opinion on and cares about what happens in their neighborhood. The more people you know (and get along with) on a particular street, the less likely any one of them will call the police; even the ones you don't meet directly, might see you being friendly and 'neighborly' with others, which can itself sway their mind without you having to. If you find a good spot (free wifi, level street, quiet at night, relatively safe neighborhood, close-by amenities, etc), following this rule can mean the difference between spending a crapload(!) of gas, time, and energy finding a new spot every couple of days and, well, not having to.
Also, a friendship with a supportive (or even envious) neighbor is likely to yield you the use of their shower, laundry, water/elec hookup (for RVs), or even a space in their driveway! Go up to the neighbors, introduce yourself as 'neighborhood watch', 'a traveler', whatever, and get to know them; most often they'll be intrigued at the thought of someone actually wanting to live in their vehicle by choice, and who knows! you might even be the last convincing straw for them to pick up and do it themselves!

I should say that these are just guidelines and not any sort of official rule set. They've worked and are working for me though.
There's a ton of information out there for rubbertramps, and google can help with most of it. But I personally, would not rely on the word of people, but on books instead. I've found that most forums out on the web are full of people saying A, B, and C are fine to park overnight, when in reality, they simply happened upon a parking space that was fine while they were there, but is usually heavily patrolled. The other thing, is that laws change all the time, and forums become outdated just as quickly; what was once true for a particular parking spot, neighborhood, city, county, or state has most likely changed (possibly even dramatically), and not just from laws - people reading the all of the posts that say "!Park here!" can ruin the spot within a few days.

Anyway, I could go on, but I won't... this is already a million words, I'm sure.
I tramp my rubberstomper here in Oakland, which suits me fine, but that means I mostly only the laws regarding the SF Bay. If you ever come out here in yours, hit me up!


OH! And welcome to the most awesome way of life!
Get a hot water bottle and a jetboil - ways easier and cheaper than a electric/propane heater.
Get a solar panel and/or a battery bank, hook then up to a charge monitor and power inverter, and incorporate your engine and starter battery so everything gets charged when you drive!
If you have the room, invest in an extremely comfortable mattress. It may seem obvious but living in your vehicle is only as enjoyable as your sleep is comfortable.
Also - locks! Locks and a backup cam (also as security). Very important.
Have fun!
 
Last edited:

chriscarter

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Hi, I'm new to being a rubber tramp only been at it for 10 days. I need to know the laws as far as living in your vehicle go. I know good places to park but it would be good to know what to say if I get hasseled by cops.
don't ever live out of your vehicle. ask a friend or a relative for a place to stay for awhile until you get things back together. get a place right away but don't ever live out of a vehicle. i slept out of my van for a few months during the summer a few years ago. you get used to thinking that it ain't so bad. it doesn't exactly feel like homelessness cause you're moving around. when my van broke down, i felt a real panic set in like I was seriously going to be on the street homeless.

the best plan is to try to find a weekly motel room for $100 to $150 and take any job for awhile to pay for the room
maybe you could find a roommate on craigslist and share a place for awhile
work at a fast food place for awhile and you'll get plenty of free food.
you can apply for a student loan if you sign up for some classes at a state college or a community college.
get an ebt card right away. you'll save alot on food.
you can get a free cellphone and minutes through www.assurancewireless.com

don't get used to living out of a vehicle. it is a very bad idea.
 
OP
Z

Zach

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don't ever live out of your vehicle. ask a friend or a relative for a place to stay for awhile until you get things back together. get a place right away but don't ever live out of a vehicle. i slept out of my van for a few months during the summer a few years ago. you get used to thinking that it ain't so bad. it doesn't exactly feel like homelessness cause you're moving around. when my van broke down, I felt a real panic set in like I was seriously going to be on the street homeless.

the best plan is to try to find a weekly motel room for $100 to $150 and take any job for awhile to pay for the room
maybe you could find a roommate on craigslist and share a place for awhile
work at a fast food place for awhile and you'll get plenty of free food.
you can apply for a student loan if you sign up for some classes at a state college or a community college.
get an ebt card right away. you'll save alot on food.
you can get a free cellphone and minutes through www.assurancewireless.com

don't get used to living out of a vehicle. it is a very bad idea.
Well the concerns appreciated but I actually do have a job, and most of the luxuries that the American media has convinced people are nesseties so i think I'm good.
 
OP
Z

Zach

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Also I would never recommend anyone take a student lone. Especially just because their living situation is getting slightly uncomfortable.
 
Last edited:

Corinne

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the key to avoiding cops is parking in the right spots. avoid big empty parking lots. side streets are best. even if theres a meter, usually parking overnight on the side of the road is free and legal. good luck!
 

eske silver

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Loops are really good. I stick to side streets that loop along the freeway. Very little traffic.
Also, if you don't have solar/batts yet, and use a generator:
if you park in the middle of the block, along the freeway side of the loop road, with the gen on the sidewalk bewteeen your and the freeway.... usually the neighbors can't hear the gen if you position it right.
 

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