February 25, 2024
Homeless tents on arrange on sixteenth Avenue in downtown San Diego. Picture by Chris Stone

The county Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday in favor of drafting an unsafe tenting ordinance just like ones lately handed within the cities of San Diego and Poway in an effort to curb homeless encampments.

Supervisor Joel Anderson mentioned the ordinance is critical to deal with the continuing homelessness disaster, and likewise harassed that it might assist scale back wildfire dangers.

Supervisors directed the chief administrative officer to draft an ordinance that “would permit regulation enforcement to ban and abate unlawful encampments, take away improperly saved property on public property, and shield vacant property, such because the San Diego River hall, from hearth and air pollution,” in accordance with info on Tuesday’s agenda.

There isn’t any timeline laid out in drafting the ordinance, which will probably be introduced to the board for overview and doable revisions throughout a future assembly, in accordance with Anderson’s workplace.

Anderson’s proposal additionally requested workers “to establish potential properties that might function regional homeless shelter options to assist guarantee the supply of shelter area to maneuver these residing in encampments and join them with wrap-around providers and a path to everlasting housing.”

Nonetheless, with a scarcity of shelter beds and sources for the unhoused within the county, it was unclear the place folks might go within the interim between a proposed ban and the eventual securing of sufficient beds for each homeless particular person.

“Though the county and its companions efficiently cleared encampments such because the North Magnolia Avenue web site in unincorporated El Cajon, the county enactment of an unsafe tenting ordinance will present one other device to assist clear up related encampments on a wider scale all through the county’s unincorporated communities,” Anderson wrote in a letter to the board.

In a press release after Tuesday’s assembly, Anderson mentioned he was grateful for his colleagues’ assist.

“I’ve lengthy mentioned that there isn’t any `one-size-fits-all’ answer in relation to addressing homelessness and right this moment’s motion will assist be sure that we should not have one other disastrous hearth, just like the Cedar Fireplace, as a result of unsafe tenting in our public parks and riverbeds within the unincorporated areas of the county,” Anderson added.

Anderson mentioned through the assembly that he doesn’t wish to criminalize homelessness. He touted the county’s earlier efforts to assist folks get off the streets, together with the acquisition of small houses, however added that shelters must be a primary possibility.

With Wednesday marking the twentieth anniversary of the lethal Cedar Fireplace in San Diego County, Anderson mentioned it was vital to make sure that security guidelines are in place, including that the county responded to greater than 100 reported fires final 12 months.

“For those who put your self in hurt’s method … we are able to prohibit that,” Anderson mentioned. “I’m finished with the established order — I wish to see change.”

Board Vice Chair Terra Lawson-Remer and Chairwoman Nora Vargas advocated for a coverage that doesn’t do additional hurt to these on the streets.

“Let’s do that ordinance in a humanitarian method,” Vargas mentioned.

Lawson-Remer referred to as it immoral that folks sleep on streets on the earth’s wealthiest nation. She added that the board’s choice “would simply be the very starting of the start” as “the county doesn’t work like the town.”

Supervisor Jim Desmond mentioned the ordinance received’t be a panacea, however since county homeless numbers have elevated by 22 %, it was time to do one thing totally different. He mentioned it is very important strike a stability so residents can take again their streets and sidewalks.

Throughout an hour-long public remark interval, most audio system have been against any new ordinance. Erin Grassi of Alliance San Diego mentioned the proposal is the costliest and least efficient option to finish homelessness, makes it tougher to entry important providers and runs counter to a “housing first” coverage.

She mentioned the county might additionally lose funding from the U.S. Division of Housing and City Growth.

“We’re watching, and we are going to keep in mind who stood up right this moment for human rights and who doesn’t,” she added.

San Diego resident Giorgio Kirylo was in assist of the tenting ban, which he described as a stop-gap measure specializing in safety.

“The fact is that we’ve to attempt to do one thing,” he mentioned.

Town of San Diego’s tenting ban isn’t being dealt with it in addition to it may very well be as a result of a scarcity cops, Kirylo mentioned, including, “We would like an answer, we wish to save lives.”

On June 13, the San Diego Metropolis Council permitted a measure that prohibits tent encampments in all public areas all through the town if shelter beds can be found. It additionally bans tent encampments always in sure delicate areas — parks, canyons and close to colleges, transit stations and homeless shelters — no matter shelter capability.

The council handed the ordinance 5-4, with Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Stephen Whitburn being sturdy advocates. Critics say it criminalizes homelessness and received’t resolve the general downside.

Those that voted no on the ordinance have been council President Sean Elo- Rivera and his colleagues Kent Lee, Monica Montgomery Steppe and Vivian Moreno.

Poway permitted its ordinance in July, “permitting regulation enforcement to abate unlawful encampments and take away improperly saved property.”

Santee made it unlawful to have an ignition supply within the San Diego River hall and the cities of Encinitas, El Cajon and Chula Vista Metropolis Council are contemplating related bans.

In September, 1,930 folks experiencing homelessness requested a shelter mattress for the night time, and all however 393 have been turned away, in accordance with the San Diego Housing Fee.

The variety of folks coming into homelessness within the area has outpaced these discovering everlasting shelter for greater than a 12 months. Based on the Regional Activity Drive on Homelessness month-to-month stories, in September, 1,195 folks within the area turned homeless for the primary time, whereas 776 folks discovered housing.

Up to date at 5:45 PM, Tuesday, Oct 24, 2023