San Diego City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, with the support of Mayor Todd Gloria, proposed a new ordinance on Thursday to ban tents and other makeshift structures from public property while also not giving them a chance to say “No” to any city official demand to move.
Recent reports found around 4,800 homeless within San Diego, with around 2,000 in the Downtown area alone. Complaints against the homeless have also gone up in the city in recent years. Combined with Los Angeles’ recent homeless ordinances that have banned them from most public areas and an extended ban to nearby schools and daycare centers, city officials in San Diego began to feel emboldened to introduce more homeless bans.
“Sympathy has run in many cities,” Jaime Margolis told the Globe on Friday. Margolis is an LA-based homeless advocate who specializes in finding housing placement for the homeless. “People want their sidewalks back. They don’t want the smells there anymore. They don’t want the open drug use. They don’t want human feces there. They want to feel safe. And the removal of tents and other encampments from public places has been the end result.”
This led to Councilman Whitburn’s proposal on Thursday. According to the ordinance, camping would be banned on public property, including sidewalks and city parks. While the ban is total, for it to be enforceable, the city has to provide shelter space for the homeless. The only exception that can avoid the shelter space caveat would be any encampment within a two-block radius of homeless shelters, schools or public parks, of which the ban would be total. A workaround to avoid the shelter space requirement is also in the works, with another ordinance that would allow safe-sleeping car lots to also allow tents to be set up for overnight use.