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San Diego mayor backs proposal to ban encampments on all public property

Councilmember Stephen Whitburn will introduce the unsafe camping ordinance next month to the city council.

SAN DIEGO — San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria is throwing his support behind a new aggressive plan to crack down on homeless encampments.

The support comes as Governor Gavin Newsom announced San Diego County will get more tools to do just that.

"This is the number one issue in our city," said Gloria.

Gloria spoke at a news conference Thursday to discuss a proposal that will be introduced to the city council next month by Councilmember Stephen Whitburn.

"This is a measure that I support and that I’m requesting city council pass it so I can sign it and enforce it," said Gloria.

It's called the Unsafe Camping Ordinance.

Whitburn represents District 3, which includes areas heavily impacted by homelessness.

Whitburn says while there are encroachment laws, this proposal expands on that by banning camping on public land.

"That includes sidewalks, parks, canyons and riverbeds-all public property," said Whitburn.

In order for the ban to apply, shelter options must be available, except in certain circumstances.

“In compliance with court rulings, the prohibition will apply only when there is available shelter and regardless of shelter availability, the prohibition on encampments will always apply where the risks to health and safety are highest. These include within two blocks of a school, within two blocks of a shelter along trolley tracks, along any water way, in any open space and in Balboa Park, Mission Bay park, Presidio Park and the shoreline parks," said Whitburn.

When asked how this proposal would be enforced given the current officer shortage, Gloria said he expects laws to be followed, although there's no timeline as to when enforcement would start.

Regarding access to shelter, Gloria also said he intends to propose a safe camping program in the city where people can legally go. He also said the addition of a new safe parking lot at Rose Canyon will help.

News about the proposal comes on the same day Newsom made a big announcement of his own: the state will pay to build and install 1200 tiny homes where homeless people can be housed.

San Diego County is set to receive 150 by the fall.

Newsom also pledged to release an extra one-billion dollars in state funding as a way to help cities reach their goal of reducing homelessness by 15% in the next two years.

Newsom will be in San Diego talking about his plans on Sunday.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego District Attorney, Summer Stephan proposes new app aimed at finding homeless shelter beds (March 2023).


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