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Carlsbad could outlaw aggressive panhandling

Posted at 5:33 PM, Sep 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-23 20:42:26-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- A spike in homeless-related complaints in Carlsbad could lead to a series of new laws that would make aggressive panhandling illegal in the city.

On Tuesday, the Carlsbad City Council will consider a series of ordinances that would make it a misdemeanor to solicit aggressively to pedestrians and motorists, camp on private property and open space property, cook and start fires on public property, store or leave personal property unattended at certain times of the day, and prohibit open containers of alcohol at two city parks.

Carlsbad Police are reporting an average of 497 homeless-related calls each month so far in 2021, on pace for a 32 percent annual increase. Most involved drugs, alcohol, assault and property crime, though the city says not every call resulted in an arrest or citable offense.

"The City of Carlsbad’s compassionate enforcement approach is focused on linking people experiencing homelessness to critical shelter and services they need while ensuring our laws are being followed," the city said in a statement. "Both are critically important to Carlsbad’s quality of life. Updating city laws is just part of a comprehensive approach that is being developed in partnership with our community so we can make a local difference on this national problem."

Business owners in the downtown area have also expressed concern over the impact.

"I think unfortunately due to Covid there’s just been an uptick in it and there's been a lot of loss, an so you're kind of seeing that becoming the issue," said Carrie Moore, who owns Trove Marketplace on State Street.

But homeless advocate Jessica Kramer said the approach being considered Tuesday is too focused on punishment, and instead wants a solution that prioritizes housing.

"If the city were moving forward with providing options and resources, then it would be more reasonable for them to enhance enforcement," she said.

Also Tuesday, the council will receive an update on a hotel voucher pilot program in development.