A row of tents can be seen on 12th Avenue in downtown on July 31, 2023.
A row of tents can be seen on 12th Avenue in downtown on July 31, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

This post first appeared in the Morning Report. Subscribe to the daily newsletter here so you don’t miss a beat.

Just over a month ago, San Diego police began enforcing a new homeless camping ban – and as of the end of August, they had yet to report a single arrest for the offense.

City spokeswoman Ashley Bailey said Friday that police wrote four misdemeanor citations and gave 85 warnings for camping ban violations between July 31 and Aug. 30.

By comparison, police data shows officers in the first five months of 2023 wrote an average of 139 citations a month using the city’s longstanding encroachment law, which essentially bars blocking a sidewalk. They also made an average of 10 encroachment arrests a month.

Reminder: The new city law only allows police to crack down on people who are setting up makeshift structures – not simply for appearing to be homeless.

“The ordinance can only be enforced if certain criteria are met so every contact officers make may not qualify as enforcement of this ordinance,” Bailey said.

The ordinance bars camping on public property when shelter is available. Police can enforce the law even when there aren’t open beds in so-called sensitive areas such as within two blocks of schools and homeless shelters, in certain parks and near transit hubs.

Where enforcement is happening:  Police first began enforcing the new law in Balboa Park, where Mayor Todd Gloria said last week that parking rangers are reporting a “significant decrease in unsheltered activity.”

Bailey said police are now focused on parks and schools throughout the city. 

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

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    1. Why Jamie? Explain you’re prejudgement, how the homeless aka thee disadvantaged and housing impaired should be jailed. Why? Not all of them? Or just the criminal ones ? Now whats to say you lost you’re job youre cars youre house everything stripped away from you, now how would you feel then look at it on both sides before you cast judgment apon youre fellow man or woman only one shall judge 👆👆👆🙏🙌 and honey you are not him….. just saying now good day to you and God have mercy on your heart and soul…….

      1. Not2bmessedwith: What has worked in the past too keep citizens off of the sidewalks? What works is employment, renting, buying and as a result – you stay off of public sidewalks. It’s worked in America for quite some time now. Look into it.

    2. Well Heyman, I’ll have you KNOW that any arrest of homeless men and woman for camping in, on, and at public locations & public property is DIRECT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL CASE LAW OUT OF THE 9Th Districts Supreme Court in, on, and at Boise, Idaho! If that means anything to you and you limited train O’Thought(s)

  1. I cannot countenance how these people enjoy living in such squalor. Even my maid has a summer residence in her home country which she visits twice a year. Surely these “homeless” individuals could similarly invest in an overseas property that would meet their needs. I don’t see the appeal of sleeping on the street or on a park bench. It doesn’t look remotely comfortable.

    1. They are worthless losers whose families have abandoned them because they’re worthless losers. You can’t imagine because you are not a worthless loser.

      1. Drugs, alcohol and the internet are their addictions and they’re not going anywhere any time soon. They cry, “give me housing” (for free, mind you) but when they finally get it, they lose it too drugs and alcohol and start the process all over again.

      2. Lmao! Little do you know you shall be inserted to Karmic Homelessness, hopefully sooner than later you gross grimey sorry butt cheeks hole!

  2. We have a Department of Corrections for a reason and this is the reason. These people need a structured program to get their lives on track again and society has every right to set boundaries and say enough is enough. I think it’s long past time to use our criminal laws to deal with this open sore.

  3. NOTICE: to the paragraph in, on, & at this article where it reads
    “Reminder: The new city law” here’s a more accurate and truthful REMINDER! There is No NEW CITY LAW, there maybe an alleged NEW CITY ORDINANCE!
    That said for those that beLIEve an #ORDINANCE is/was an ACTUAL #LAW please try TO GRASP Thee idea that if an ORDINANCE is/was infact an ACTUAL LAW then ordinance would be obviously be L, A, W & not O, R, D, I, N, A, N, C, E…..

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