Using Vehicles to Challenge Antisleeping Ordinances

This article reviews the issue of homeless people who live in vehicles. The authors utilize interviews, surveys, and municipal court trial data to present an ethnographic case study of the vehicle community in Santa Barbara, CA. They note that the right to sleep has recently become controversial, as cities that do not provide adequate shelter cannot legally outlaw public sleeping. Rather than suggesting that vehicles are a good housing solution, this research argues that the resources vehicle living provides offer unique insight into the struggle for personal and social legitimacy. Vehicles as homes allow people to build resistance against the idea that privacy, preferences, relationships, and autonomy are things that they, because they are homeless, are not entitled to. The authors conclude that the relationship between anti-homeless regulation and the right to sleep is a problematic and enduring feature of urban environments. The case of recreational vehicle (RV) living demonstrates that vehicle owners, locked in a cycle of regulation and resistance with Santa Barbara city officials, have worked with advocates to establish a legal claim to sleep in their vehicles on the city’s public streets.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Pagination: pp 309-329
  • Serial:
    • City & Community
    • Volume: 7
    • Issue Number: 4
    • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishers Limited
    • ISSN: 1535-6841
    • EISSN: 1540-6040

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01150369
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Feb 9 2010 11:22AM