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San Diego homeless enforcement ban begins enforcement on Monday

SAN DIEGO — Enforcement of the City of San Diego’s homeless encampment ban is set to begin on Monday after the “Unsafe Camping Ordinance” went into effect over the weekend.

The ordinance, which was passed by the City Council last month, bars unhoused residents from camping throughout the city if shelter beds are available.

It also prohibits encampments in certain areas at all times, including parks, canyons and the space within two city blocks of schools, transit centers and homeless services centers.

New signs that read “no camping” have been put up over the last few weeks in certain sites impacted by the ban throughout the city, such as Balboa Park.

“It is unsafe, inhumane and unhealthy,” said City Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, who spearheaded the ordinance with Mayor Todd Gloria. “Enforcement is going to priorities areas around schools and in many of our public parks.”

The ordinance went into effect on Saturday, roughly 30 days after the city’s first safe camping site opened for unhoused residents. San Diego police, however, will not start enforcement until Monday morning.

Enforcement of the ban will follow a three-step approach called the “progressive enforcement model.”

On first contact with police, shelter and a warning will be offered to those deemed to be in violation. The second contact with police will have the offer of a shelter bed, as well as the issuance of a misdemeanor citation. The third encounter when an unhoused person is believed to be in violation of the ban could result in an arrest.

But homeless advocates say this doesn’t help solve the problem, arguing that outreach workers will have an even more difficult time providing services and connecting with people in order to get them into housing.

“The more you move people around the harder it is for them to get help from the connected services,” said McConnell. “We all want clear sidewalks, clean streets — everybody wants that … the majority of homeless people don’t want to be on those sidewalks, but there are no good options.”

Those opposed to the measure are also concerned about how the ban could impact the already short-staffed SDPD respond to other calls.

“It depends how many officers the police want to use,” McConnell said, “if they want to have longer wait times for responses for real crimes.”

Whitburn says SDPD officials have assured him that they have enough personnel to tackle enforcement of the ban and other calls, adding “I would point out that one of the number one concerns reported to the police are concerns about encampments … so police are really responding to neighborhood concerns.”

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