San Diego Homeless Encampment Ban Goes Into Effect Sunday

By U Cast Studios
July 28, 2023

San Diego Homeless Encampment Ban Goes Into Effect Sunday
Image Courtesy Of Alejandro Luengo On Unsplash

Officials note that implementation will be gradual over the coming months

The San Diego Police Department, city officials, homeless advocates, and others in San Diego have begun to prepare this week for the citywide homeless encampment ban, which will go into effect this Sunday.

This article was written by Evan Symon and originally published by The California Globe.

Years of growing concerns and incidents involving the homeless in San Diego, as well as growing health risks and dangers associated with encampments led to an ordinance being proposed earlier this year. According to the ordinance, camping will 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. As recent reports found around 4,800 homeless within San Diego, with around 2,000 in the Downtown area alone, shelter space within the city would need to be at 4,800 before the ordinance kicks in.

First proposed in March, the City Council eventually adopted the proposal, albeit with some changes. The passed law will now only have the ordinance go into effect if shelter space is available. If there is space available, law enforcement is to offer shelter space to those living on the street. The first refusal will result in a warning. The second will bring them a misdemeanor citation. Upon refusal a third time, an arrest can be made.

While shelter spaces are set to open through hotel rooms and safe sleeping lots for tents, the closure of at least one shelter recently has lead to question if enforcement would be tenable come Sunday. However, city officials noted this week that the ordinance would come into effect gradually, ramping up when colder months start to come in later in the year.

“It’ll be a gradual implementation,” noted Councilman Stephen Whitburn in a statement. “Unhoused living in the street and in tents within two a block radius of schools and parks will be the areas we will be starting with and gradually will be expanding the enforcement and implementation of the ordinance to all public property in the city of San Diego.

“We have been reaching out to individuals who are currently living on the streets and in the parks, and letting them know that the ordinance is taking effect and they need to be looking for safer and healthier places to go. At this moment we do not have enough shelter beds to accommodate everybody who is currently living outdoors. We’ve got a lot of work to do but I think the unsheltered population is getting the message, we are working to provide those places, whether it’s a safe sleeping site, indoor shelter.”

A new homeless ordinance in San Diego

While enforcement may not be immediate come Sunday due to the lack of open shelter space, area residents and local safety groups told the Globe that they are looking forward to the ordinance beginning to have an effect later this year once more shelter space is opened and the homeless will have no choice in the matter.

“We’ve been trying for years to make our streets safer this way,” explained Mary Michaels, a San Diego resident and neighborhood watch leader, to the Globe on Wednesday. “Everyone has a story of a homeless person using their hose, defecating on their property, breaking into a garage, or other sort of thing. This ordinance is a very positive step towards not only helping solve the homelesds problem, but giving them shelter too. It’s win-win.”

The ordinance is due to go into effect on Sunday.

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