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Mayor Todd Gloria pushes San Diego homeless encampment ban amid chants from protestors

Mayor Gloria and public safety officials said the ban will improve public safety and help prevent fires started in canyon and riverbed encampments.

SAN DIEGO — Mayor Todd Gloria joined police and fire officials on Wednesday, June 7 to rally support of a proposal that would ban homeless encampments throughout much of the city.

Gloria appeared at San Diego Police Department's Northern Division to speak about the positive impacts that the proposed ban will have on public safety. The Mayor said if passed, the ban will help reduce the risk of dangerous canyon wildfires that are typically started at or near encampments.

The Mayor referred to city data that shows that nearly 2,500 fires were started in homeless encampments since 2021.

And while the Mayor and public safety officials from the fire and police departments are in support of the ban, a handful of protestors armed with bullhorns and a large five-by-five foot banner with the words, "two-faced Todd" scrawled on the front, drowned the message out. 

"Plan not ban. Plan not ban," yelled the demonstrators. 

Mayor Gloria responded with a message to the journalists and news crews at the conference.

"I want you all when you report this tonight to understand where the majority of San Diegans are," said Gloria before motioning to the protestors, "they support encampments, we don't. We will pass this ordinance." 

Meanwhile, outside groups are also voicing their concern over the proposed ordinance which, if passed, will outlaw encampments in city parks, near schools, trolley and bus stations as well as prohibit tent encampments throughout the city only if shelter beds are available.

Homeless advocates say the ban criminalizes homelessness and will lead to more arrests and citations for those living on the streets. The advocates also say the city does not have an adequate amount of shelter space and housing options, meaning more and more unsheltered people will spend their time and energy dodging clean-up crews and in jail rather than spending time trying to find shelter. 

On June 6, the California chapter of the American Nurses Association railed against the ban, calling it extremely dangerous for elderly and medically compromised individuals. 

"The proposed Unsafe Camping Ordinance does not address the critical need for safe walkways for our community. Instead, it exacerbates the human rights violations inherent to the conditions of homelessness in San Diego by criminalizing poverty and one of the last means of survival for a population of people. Should this ordinance be enforced, people will die," (emphasis theirs) reads the association's June 6 letter. 

The city council will vote on the ban on June 13.

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