Imperial Beach outlaws camping, sleeping on public sidewalks

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IMPERIAL BEACH, Calif. -- The City of Imperial Beach has expanded an ordinance to outlaw sleeping, camping and storing private belongings on public streets and sidewalks.

The rule already regulated camping and storing belongings at public parks and beaches. On Sept. 18, the Imperial Beach City Council unanimously voted to expand the ordinance to include streets and sidewalks.

"It shouldn't be illegal," resident Janette Yarborough told FOX 5. "But if they are going to leave garbage they should have to pay a fine for that." Yarborough said she used to see more homeless encampments a few months ago, but the number seems to be diminishing.

Though the ordinance makes it illegal to sleep on public property, one resident told FOX 5 he still sees homeless people sleeping in public parks and stashing their belongings.

"There's a gentleman who's trying to get his life back together and during the day he leaves his stuff here," longtime resident Brian Cook said. "Usually there's a backpack there also."

Cook keeps the area clean by going out with a bucket and using a tool to pick up trash wherever he sees it. He said he doesn't harbor ill will toward anyone who happens to be down on their luck. "I've been through troubled times myself and I just want everybody to have a fair break," Cook said.

According to the City of Imperial Beach, the expanded ordinance is an effort to maintain cleanliness and safety by keeping streets and sidewalks clear and sanitary, and ensuring public areas are used for their intended purposes.

"I like Imperial Beach because it's not as built up and busy as, say, Pacific Beach, and it's more quiet. There seems to be more families out at the beach," Yarborough said.

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