by Photo courtesy of Sen. Brian Jones

Sen. Brian Jones announced new legislation aims to address the homeless crisis in San Diego by making homeless encampments unlawful within 1,000 feet near identified "sensitive areas". 

The proposed state law aims to prevent encampments from being near “sensitive areas” where children are often present or gathered. The legislation will be proposed by Jones on Dec. 5, the first day of the upcoming 2023-24 legislative session.

“We cannot simply continue allowing people to live in our parks and libraries or in front of schools and day-care centers,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones. “It’s inhumane and unhealthy for the homeless to do so, and it’s unfair and often dangerous for the neighbors, families, and children in these sensitive areas. Our measure, along with recent ‘CARES’ legislation sponsored by Governor Newsom, will hopefully help end the public camping in these areas while also compassionately assisting the homeless get treatment for their mental and health needs and find a more suitable place to stay.”

It would become against state law to camp within 1,000 feet of these areas under Jone’s legislation. Law enforcement and other officials would first issue verbal and written warnings to those living in the encampments that they need to leave the area within 72 hours or face removal and possible misdemeanor prosecution.

For those facing removal, the legislation would also require they be provided with information about homeless resources and agencies in the area.

"Homelessness is soaring in California, and it’s soaring in San Diego. It’s devastating for the people who are living it and of course, it’s devastating for the communities and neighborhoods that are experiencing it. A street is not a home, period. This is commonsense and this bill will put commonsense into California law," said former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. 

The legislation is patterned after a recent Los Angeles City measure that mandates no person shall “sit, lie, sleep, or store, use, maintain, or place personal property, in or upon any street, sidewalk, or another public right-of-way within the distance stated on the posted signage (up to a maximum of 500 feet) of a property designated as a sensitive use”. Jone’s legislation has garnered the support of San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Escondido City Councilmember Joe Garcia, Escondido Union School Board Member Joan Gardner, and Michael Branch, CEO of the East County Transitional Living Center. 

Bob McElroy, Alpha Project CEO, a local nonprofit said that the proposed legislation “will help us carry out our organization’s mission by finding the appropriate balance between accountability and compassion as we lift individuals out of homelessness.”

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond said, “it’s simply inhumane to allow people to live on the street. As a society – we can do better. Some may say it’s inhumane to force people off the streets and into treatment, but I think it’s more inhumane to keep people on the streets.” 

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