El Cajon City Hall / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

This post first appeared in the June 29 Morning Report.

The El Cajon City Council decided Tuesday to take a wait-and-see approach before proposing their own unsafe camping ordinance.

With San Diego’s ordinance likely taking effect in late July and Poway’s proposed ordinance tentatively in August, El Cajon is worried about an influx of unsheltered people moving there. What is more worrisome to city leadership, however, is the threat of legal action. 

Here’s why: Cities wanting to crack down on homelessness encampments must comply with a 2019 federal appeals court ruling that declared it’s unconstitutional to prohibit people from sleeping outside without offering indoor alternatives. Although San Diego and Poway intend to abide by the ruling, there is some ambiguity in this ruling. 

El Cajon Assistant City Manager Vince DiMaggio said both San Diego and Poway have added language in their ordinances to fill in gaps for situations the appeals court decision did not account for. For example, DiMaggio said, San Diego’s ordinance bans camping in open spaces and along waterways even when shelter isn’t not available.

For now, DiMaggio suggested El Cajon could use what it can within its existing municipal code – which prohibits camping or sleeping on public property including streets, highways, city parks, playgrounds, the Civic Center, Judson Park and Prescott Promenade – to mitigate a possible increase in homeless people.

The City Council unanimously voted to heed DiMaggio’s suggestion.

Kathryn Gray is a Voice of San Diego intern.

Join the Conversation


  1. Dan Smiechowski is a candidate for San Diego Mayor. Are you voting DAN.

  2. Imagine one judge states away from you decides that your city is going to be a cesspool before retreating to his daddy’s cabin where no homeless losers are allowed within miles.

  3. Please just push all the junkies out to El Cajon then. Downtown is tired of them.

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