POWAY, Calif. — The city of Poway has approved an ordinance to help limit illegal encampments in public spaces.

“We have an obligation to protect those public spaces for safe for use by all,” Poway Mayor Steve Vaus said.

Poway City Council voted unanimously 4-0 Tuesday evening to begin regulating camping and storing personal property in public areas.

The ordinance would allow the sheriff’s department to remove unlawful encampments and impound any property being stored in public with 24 hours notice, according to Poway City Attorney Alan Fenstermacher.

Before any action could be taken, deputies must offer available shelter space.

“There should be regulations everywhere however, I also believe there should be services offered for individuals in those situations everywhere,” Poway resident Liz Harris said.

Councilmember Brian Pepin proposed the ordinance after hearing from concerned parents at Meadowbrook Middle School.

“There was a number of campers and trailers things like that, and it was essentially rapidly becoming a homeless encampment and students from the school were walking by,” Pepin said.

Driving around the school and city of Poway on Tuesday, FOX 5 did not see any immediate signs of the problem. However long-time residents of the area shared otherwise.

“This amendment is the first step and acknowledging that Poway has a problem. Thankfully, we are not in the same predicament as downtown San Diego, El Cajon city, but if we do not taking action, we will one day be in the same position,” Gary Bowman said.

The San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness reports 23 unsheltered people in Poway in 2022, up from 15 in 2020. The city of Poway told FOX 5 it believes those numbers to be even lower.

In 2022, the city of San Diego saw a monthly average of about 1,500 unsheltered people, while El Cajon’s estimates for 2022 were around 1,300.

In Poway, there will be a second reading of this ordinance at next month’s city council meeting. It would go into effect 30 days after that.