San Diego proposes ordinance to ban homeless camping on public property

San Diego City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, backed by Mayor Todd Gloria, proposed a new ordinance on Thursday banning tents and other makeshift public property structures and preventing them from saying no to any city official requirement to move. .

Recent reports have found about 4,800 homeless people in San Diego, with about 2,000 of them in the city center alone. Complaints about the homeless have also increased in the city in recent years. Combined with Los Angeles’ recent homeless ordinances that banned them from most public places, and an expanded ban on nearby schools and daycares, the city of San Diego has felt the courage to introduce new homeless bans.

“Sympathy has swept through many cities,” Jaime Margolis told the Globe on Friday. Margolis is a homeless rights advocate in Los Angeles who specializes in finding housing for the homeless. “People want their sidewalks back. They don’t need those smells anymore. They don’t want open drug use. They don’t need human feces. They want to feel safe. And the end result was the removal of tents and other camps from public spaces.”

This led to councilor Whitburn’s proposal on Thursday. According to the ruling, camping will be prohibited on public areas, including sidewalks and city parks. While the ban is complete, for it to take effect, the city must provide shelter for the homeless. The only exception that can escape the shelter space clause would be any camp within a two-block radius of homeless shelters, schools, or public parks, which would be completely banned. A workaround to avoid the shelter requirement is also in the works, with another regulation that would allow safe car sleeping areas to also allow tents to be set up for overnight stays.

Proposal wins support from SD legislators, mayor

In a ruling proposal released Thursday, Councilman Whitburn stressed the need for security for both residents and those in the camps.

“We have heard too many stories about people camped out on our streets who were randomly attacked, stabbed to death or even set on fire,” Whitburn said. “These camps are not safe. They also pose a danger to our neighborhoods.”

Mayor Gloria added: “I want to be clear: once we have these resources, the answer to our homeless population can no longer be no. They can’t say no to getting off the sidewalk, or no to enjoying being outside more, or no to services and assistance. When we ask you to get off the street and we have a place for you to go, the answer “No” is not acceptable.”

Homeless advocates immediately opposed the proposed regulation, saying it criminalized the homeless and that they had nowhere else to go. Concerns have also been raised about the lack of places to hide and that many will be forced to travel to certain areas of the city where tents are allowed, such as private parking lots. However, at the same time, many neighborhood groups and citizen organizations praised the proposed regulation as it would directly address the city’s homeless problem and lead to clean public spaces again.

“For a long time, we felt unsafe just trying to enjoy a walk in the park or even, in some cases, leaving the house,” Mary Michaels, a San Diego resident and district security chief, told the Globe Friday. . “Many of us have been woken up at night by homeless people rummaging through our trash or using our hoses without permission, and in many cases have even seen human poop on our lawns after someone has stayed overnight in a van. This is a good first step towards making San Diego safe. Many of us are more liberal, but at least on this issue we are all kind of united on the same side that we don’t want them here.”

The resolution is expected to be put to a vote in the near future.

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