A city parking meter in Hillcrest / Photo by Sam Hodgson

San Diego police say they have dialed back parking enforcement at Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s request, allowing meter readers and officers to handle other duties such as monitoring closed beach and park lots. But that doesn’t mean no one is getting tickets.

What it does mean is that the city’s parking enforcement unit is no longer driving around to check meters, and officers are largely only writing tickets to offenders who have parked illegally or are creating a safety hazard.

“If it’s a safety issue, it’s going to be addressed,” said Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, a San Diego police spokesman.

For example, Takeuchi said, a car blocking a roadway or parked on a curb would be cited.

Takeuchi said the mayor’s directive to ramp down enforcement also still requires that police cite handicapped parking violators, and those parked in red no-stopping zones and white loading zones for more than a few minutes.

The City Council has urged Faulconer to consider dramatically reducing two specific kinds of enforcement that Voice of San Diego has found continued through at least last month.

On March 17, the City Council passed a resolution urging the mayor to consider implementing a temporary moratorium on enforcement of vehicle habitation and 72-hour parking ordinances.

These ordinances bar people from sleeping in vehicles in many areas of the city, and the 72-hour parking ban, which is also state law, bans parking a vehicle on the street for more than 72 hours without moving it.

Yet police have written at least three vehicle habitation citations since the City Council approved the resolution. Data on citations for 72-hour violations was not immediately available. Takeuchi said police have been less focused on enforcing the 72-hour ban recently but suggested some enforcement is still taking place.

“We are not being proactive about it right now,” Takeuchi said. “We are only addressing 72-hour violations if it’s a safety concern.”

Neighborhood Policing Division Capt. Scott Wahl said a team of officers who had been proactively responding to complaints during the night shift about suspected violations of the city’s vehicle habitation ordinance are now working the day shift so they can focus on other priorities.

He said the reassignment came about a week after the March 17 City Council vote.

Advocacy groups including Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance have called on city leaders to halt vehicle habitation and other enforcement affecting homeless San Diegans altogether.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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