San Diego Mayor to the Homeless: Leave the Encampments or Face the Consequences

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria on Monday pleaded with homeless people living in downtown roadside encampments to accept offers of accommodation, warning there would be consequences for those who refuse to ugly.

As the city steps up enforcement against sidewalk encroachment, Gloria said those consequences could include arrests for people who continue to camp in the downtown East Village. Three people have been arrested in the neighborhood since the city began ramping up enforcement last week.

“We don’t like to do that,” he said during a Monday press briefing with law enforcement and city officials.

“Please accept the help that is offered to you,” he said in a message to people living without shelter. “I can’t imagine what made you end up on the streets. Bad luck. Divorce. Job Loss. Generational trauma. The list continues. What I know for sure is that there is a better life for you, and we will do everything we can to put you in that position.

Gloria said the city received about 1,200 encampment complaints through San Diego’s Get It Done app last week, and enforcement of encroachment laws on city sidewalks has increased due growing concern about the problem.

San Diego Police Lt. Shawn Takeuchi, who leads the department’s neighborhood policing division that includes the homeless outreach team, said three people in the East Village were arrested and three others had accepted shelter since last week.

Takeuchi said officers last week contacted more than 200 homeless people in the East Village, where tents and makeshift shelters lined the sidewalks along Commercial Street, National Avenue and other roads in the area. Besides the three people who accepted shelter, one person agreed to be directed to a free storage area, he said.

Appearing at the press conference with Gloria, Takeuchi said he did not know how many citations were issued, but noted that tickets and arrests are part of the department’s escalation policy which includes a warning , an offense citation and a misdemeanor citation before an arrest.

Gloria said the increased enforcement was a necessary step because the encampments are unsafe, unsanitary and prohibit pedestrian use.

“I’m asking you to please connect with the accommodations and services that are out there,” he said. “We have shelter beds available right now with low barrier access. You can bring your personal effects, your pets, your loved one. You don’t have to be sober. We will take you as you are.

Sidewalk clean-up days in the East Village are scheduled for Tuesdays and Thursdays, but many homeless people in the area said they were taken by surprise last Wednesday when city crews came by and removed items from the sidewalks, sometimes throwing unattended property into a truck where it was run over.

Takeuchi said at the press conference that tents are not thrown unless the owner wants them, which led to an exchange with a reporter who said he saw a woman pleading with an officer not to. take away his tent.

“What you more than likely saw was an individual telling us he didn’t want his property,” Takeuchi said. After the reporter again said he saw a woman take items out of her tent to prevent them from being thrown into the garbage truck, Takeuchi said he would investigate the incident.

Homeless lawyer Michael McConnell did not attend the press conference and said he had heard of the incident but had not seen it himself, but had seen tents thrown up.

“Many times they threw up tents when their owners weren’t even there,” he said. “It’s just an outright lie, and they’re trying to tell people not to believe their eyes and ears. I’ve seen people who come after their tent has been thrown away and they try to take it out of the trash can and they won’t let them.

Gloria said the number of beds in the shelters had increased by 25% during her time as mayor and could accommodate around 1,200 people each night. The shelters are around 90% capacity and Gloria said 450 more beds are planned by the end of the year.

While many people on the street say they don’t want to go to a shelter, Gloria said the city is looking to provide more diverse alternatives, such as safe camping sites.

City Councilman Stephen Whitburn, also at the press conference, said he supports safe campsites and recently visited one in Denver that seemed to be working well.

“But if they still refuse, we have to enforce the rules against camping on sidewalks,” he said, agreeing with the mayor. The Whitburn neighborhood includes Balboa Park and East Village.

Journalists noted that there are more people on the streets than available beds in shelters, and people who cannot afford tickets are cited. Gloria responded that people on sidewalks are breaking a law and the city needs to take action to remedy a dangerous situation.

“Ignoring this issue is a path to death for these people,” he said. “It won’t happen under my watch.”

McConnell said increased law enforcement may not be driving people into shelters, but rather pushing them from the East Village to other areas, such as state property near highways or into canyons. .

About Chris Stevenson

Check Also

Iran indicts 11 in murder of paramilitary Basij

Iran has charged 11 people with the killing of a member of the Basij paramilitary …