This post originally appeared in the June 14 Morning Report. Subscribe here.
The San Diego City Council just before 11 p.m. Tuesday narrowly approved a controversial homeless camping ban with some changes.
Council members Sean Elo-Rivera, Monica Montgomery Steppe, Kent Lee and Vivian Moreno voted against the ordinance following a slew of questions and failed attempts by Elo-Rivera to make amendments.
The tense deliberations and vote followed the presentation of a city strategy aiming to add hundreds of additional shelter beds, more than four hours of public comment and a series of attempts by Council President Sean Elo-Rivera and others to make changes.
The version of the ordinance approved late Tuesday bars homeless camps in public spaces at all times when shelter is available. When shelter isn’t available, tents would still be banned within two blocks of schools or shelters as well as in canyons and along transit hubs and waterways.
But per changes pushed by Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert, the ordinance now would only apply in parks where the city determines there is a “significant public health and safety risk” and signs are posted. The change frustrated Moreno, who had previously urged the inclusion of all parks in the city to avoid disparities throughout the city, particularly in historically underserved areas.
Councilman Joe LaCava also successfully added language clarifying that beaches are covered by the ban and that shelter availability rests on whether there is an open shelter bed that meets the needs of the homeless person police are engaging. He also called for regular updates on the impacts of the ordinance.
Gloria repeatedly addressed the City Council Tuesday, including after questions from Montgomery Steppe about whether the ordinance would spur more unsheltered people to accept shelter offers or more distrust.
“The message will be sent that it’s no longer acceptable to deteriorate on the sidewalk,” Gloria said.
But Lee, Moreno, Elo-Rivera and Montgomery Steppe questioned the potential impacts of the ordinance.
“I don’t think that what we have before us today is going to satisfy what people think it will satisfy,” Montgomery Steppe said.
And Moreno at one point attempted to postpone the City Council vote until September to allow time for police to etch out a more detailed enforcement plan.
Gloria praised the council members who supported the ordinance in a late Tuesday press release.
“I want to thank the five members of the City Council for voting to support the unsafe camping ordinance,” Gloria wrote in a statement. “When presented with the opportunity to take action or do nothing, Councilmembers Whitburn, LaCava, Campbell, von Wilpert and Campillo chose to act.”
He argued the ordinance will offer the city another tool to address and aid people in encampments.