Homeless encampment ordinance met with protests

Homeless encampment ordinance met with protests
Posted at 12:17 PM, Jun 07, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-07 15:17:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — It was a confrontational morning for Mayor Todd Gloria on Wednesday, as he tried to discuss the Unsafe Camping Ordinance in La Jolla while homeless advocates shouted over his speech.

“Today we want to discuss the serious risks to public safety that are posed by homeless encampments,” Gloria said.

The ordinance comes on the basis that tent encampments are dangerous for homeless populations and people living nearby.

“Firefighters had to respond to nearly 500 fires in canyons thought to have originated from encampments so far, just this year,” Gloria said.

It would ban tent encampments in all San Diego public spaces if shelter beds are available. If there are no shelter beds, the ordinance would ban encampments specifically in sensitive areas. This includes near parks, riverbeds, schools, transit stations and homeless shelters.

“Residents need to feel safe taking their kids to the playground for the afternoon," said Bari Vaz, President of Mira Mesa Town Council. "We also need assistance for the homeless residents.”

Advocates with Alliance San Diego say this is not a solution to homelessness.

“Instead of getting rid of homelessness, really it just makes it less visible by moving folks into other neighborhoods,” said Erin Tsurumoto Grassi, policy director for Alliance San Diego.

They're asking for the city to provide more shelter beds and affordable housing.

“It would be displacing folks from where they currently are," Tsurumoto Grassi said. "It would be moving folks away from services, away from where they feel safe.”

The mayor says if this passes on Tuesday, outreach workers and police would play a key role in offering services and enforcing the law.