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SAN DIEGO — San Diego police officers and city crews cleaned up East Village sidewalks Tuesday, asking the homeless population to move their belongings.

They are carrying out the orders of Mayor Todd Gloria who recently came under fire for not doing enough to clean up city streets from the homeless.

The mayor asserted Tuesday’s actions are not new. He pointed to the enforcement of pre-pandemic ordinances that make it unlawful to block city sidewalks or camp on them.

“As San Diegan’s got vaccinated, as we’ve had more ability to offer more services,” said Mayor Gloria. “We said we would start doing more enforcement much like we did pre-pandemic. This is a part of an expansion of those efforts to do that.”

The homeless situation in the East Village appears beyond control and addressing the problem is a massive undertaking. Block after city block, tent after tent, trash, filth, human feces, the stench — images do not adequately translate the magnitude of the problem.

Homeless advocates say this tactic though, will not help. 

“When all the city is doing is sending police out to chase people around and move them to sidewalk to sidewalk, nothing productive comes out of that,” said Michael McConnell, a local homeless advocate.

Mayor Gloria said, under his watch, the city has expanded the number of services and housing for the homeless — increasing the capacity by 38 percent.

“We have converted more of our properties in the shelters, we have expanded citywide outreach and we’ve built hundreds of new homes that are affordable and reserved for the formally homeless,” said the San Diego mayor. “We need to encourage people to accept that help.”

Meanwhile, McConnell said there are roughly 1600 people living on the streets downtown and about 2000 beds with only 20 or 30 available at any given day.

“It’s going to keep growing unfortunately because it isn’t tackling the real issue with real solutions to keep fooling around with Band-Aids like this, instead of going in all out effort to get more shelters and housing,” said the homeless advocate.