homeless surging san diego
Homeless residents’ tents line Island Avenue in downtown San Diego. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

A few weeks ago, the Politics Report revealed that former Mayor Kevin Faulconer was making calls to rally support for a ballot initiative that would make it a misdemeanor to camp in San Diego if shelter space was available.

His plan is to do something in 2024 similar to what is going on the ballot in Sacramento this year.

However, Tuesday, Sacramento’s City Council amended that initiative to require that the city and county of Sacramento have a deal in place before enforcement happens. Sacramento city leaders want the county to commit to a certain level of services and housing before they’ll be willing to arrest homeless residents. 

“Without the county and their massive mental health, substance abuse, child welfare and domestic violence infrastructure and resources, this initiative as it stands will not provide the relief that we want and that the people expect,” Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg told Capitol Public Radio.

Scott Lewis

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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8 Comments

  1. Go for the lowest hanging fruit first. Ban tents and improvised shelters. This only requires an ordinance approved by city council.

  2. No one wants to criminalize homelessness, but tent lined sidewalks create a very real public health problem. Find some parcels of government properties where homeless people can “camp”. This can be done immediately and without much cost. If the city can afford to spend millions to rearrange streets to accommodate bicyclist surely we can get the local government to provide vacant lands for our “tented community”. I recognize this is not a solution to homelessness but it is a solution for safe and healthy right of way for pedestrians using the sidewalks.

    1. If you’re smoking meth on the sidewalk and I’m walking by with my kid, does getting arrested for smoking meth on the sidewalk = criminalizing homelessness?

      I wouldn’t worry about it, I lived here 6 months before I realized this city even has a police force.

      1. If a person is smoking meth on the sidewalk, that person is breaking the law.
        Enforcing the law shouldn’t be contingent on you walking by or who you’re walking with.
        Whether the person gets arrested, should be based on his meth smoking; not whether he’s unhoused or owns a penthouse.
        California is a Housing First State.
        A place to pitch your tent; a lot to sleep in your car or a bed in a giant communal tent is not Housing.

        How does this City or State propose criminalizing a person for being homeless when they are not fulfilling their legal obligation to provide HOUSING FIRST?

  3. It’s hard for me to understand since NYC has 5x the population but you’ll never see a tent on the sidewalk because values in the northeast mean that your family’s safety is more important than “homeless dignity” so violent drug addicts, murderers, and pedo’s hiding from their warrants are arrested, not permitted to live in tents next to your home.

      1. True but not relevant here since both cities have shelter space. The problem is that in SD if you refuse shelter you are permitted to remain in your garbage fort on the sidewalk whereas in NYC you’re arrested and brought to a shelter if you don’t go voluntarily.

      2. You bring up an important point. If New York is required to provide shelter for all and they are fulfilling that requirement… then it’s fair for them to enforce laws RE: no illegal lodging; no loitering, etc.
        We are a Housing First State. Not a “Provide Shelter” State.
        When we fulfill our legal obligation to offer Housing to unhoused people, we also earn the right to arrest people who refuse this service.
        Until then, it’s unconstitutional to threaten arrest due to the absence of Housing, when we have failed to provide Housing as required by law.

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