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San Diego Mayor Gloria, city officials increase encroachment enforcement for homeless sidewalk encampments

Posted at 6:44 AM, Jun 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-07 09:56:52-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and city officials on Monday made a passionate plea to those who are living on city sidewalks, asking that they use the resources that are available.

“I would ask these individuals to please avail themselves of what we’re providing,” Gloria said.

City officials said it’s been making good on its promise to have shelters beds and resources for the unhoused. The city is also stepping up encroachment laws when it comes to those camping on the sidewalks.

“Last week alone, the city received 1,200 reports from residents about homeless encampments submitted through our 'Get It Done' app,” Gloria said. “We are enforcing our laws forbidding encroachment on the public right of way. Now, to be clear, every enforcement operation follows days, if not weeks, of outreach teams repeatedly offering assistance and shelter.”

One of the most recent housing efforts is the former motel on Palm Avenue that just opened to house some of the city's homeless and the building of the shelter in the Midway District.

“In the last year, my administration’s increased shelter bed capacity in the city by 25 percent. We’ve got 450 more beds coming online later this year,” Gloria said. “So, there’s always been some level of enforcement through all of this. But we haven’t always been able to be able to do everything because we haven’t necessarily had the shelter capacity or places to offer folks."

San Diego Police said the enforcement aspect works in four steps for those who don’t leave or accept help. First, it’s verbal contact warning while offering assistance and shelter to the homeless. Then, two different types of citations can follow; and lastly, an arrest can be made.

“If it means offer shelter, offer shelter. If it means holding people accountable for the law that they violate, it’s holding people accountable,” SDPD Capt. Shawn Takeuchi said. “So, I wouldn’t say it’s easier, but we’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and we’re not going to give up.”

The endgame for this strategy is still to house as many people as possible.

“But we cannot allow our streets to deteriorate while we do that work,” Gloria said.

San Diego Police said the direction that’s being given to officers during this period of stepped-up enforcement is if a person isn’t going to jail, the unhoused tents and other items aren’t being taken from them.

“If an individual is at that fourth state of progressive enforcement and we are making a custodial arrest, then yes. We are asking the person to identify their personal belongings and we are taking custody of that per our policy and procedure,” Takeuchi said.

“Anything else that the person does not claim or says that they don’t want, then, with the assistance of Environmental Services Division, we are disposing of that property," the captain added.

Takeuchi stated during Monday’s briefing that in many cases that there’s property that’s tainted and soiled that they cannot imposed due to health and safety reasons.