SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria says the city will change the way it addresses homeless encampments and belongings.
"While the City has an obligation to make sure we don’t have another communicable disease outbreak like hepatitis A among our homeless population, we can do so with compassion and while respecting their dignity," said Mayor Todd Gloria. "As we work every day on solutions to connect folks to permanent housing, shelter and supportive services, these changes apply a measure of respect and compassion that will reduce the trauma for those San Diegans experiencing homelessness."
Gloria says the changes are based on "dignity and compassion" and the city has already started some of the policies, including:
- Suspending cleanups and enforcement during inclement weather, like hail, rain, or extreme cold. SDPD will also suspend issuing certain citations;
- Suspending cleanups during nighttime hours;
- City crews will be responsible for saving and storing items that may have personal value, such as jewelry, photos, identification, or legal documents. Staff will post cleared and detailed instructions for how to contact the city to retrieve items;
- City will post clearer and more consistent notices of cleanups scheduled. Larger, less-frequent cleanups will be preempted by outreach;
- City teams will have less visible police presence, those officers will be present to protect crews and be available if needed. Police will reduce their visibility by avoiding the use of emergency lights and rely on city truck safety lights and position patrol cars further from sites;
- Coordinating cleanups with outreach activities to ensure homeless individuals are offered shelter and services before cleanups
Changes that involve new signage with be implemented over the next several weeks.
The changes were developed by the city's Homelessness Strategies Department, which incorporates feedback from people who have been homeless, as well as experts and local environmental services and neighborhood policing groups.
Gloria points to the city's 2017 hepatitis A outbreak and other outbreaks in cities with large homeless populations as further need to make sure sidewalks and the public right-of-way is kept clear and clean. The mayor adds that the new policies should provide less uncertainty for homeless individuals.