SAN DIEGO — In a unanimous vote, the County Board of Supervisors took the first step for an unsafe camping ordinance in the county.
The letter from Supervisor Joel Anderson, directed the Chief Administrative Officer “to create an unsafe camping ordinance to ensure that public property, such as parks and riverbeds, are cleared from fire and pollution threats,” according to Anderson.
While the details of the potential ordinance still need to be detailed, it would be similar to the City of San Diego’s ban, but Anderson said it would go a step further in trying to address more issues of homelessness.
Anderson’s recommendation also asked the CAO “to develop a list of safe shelter sites to move people out of unsafe camping situations and connect them with resources towards permanent housing.”
Boards of Supervisors Chair Nora Vargas said this is not an easy task.
“Unlike the City of San Diego, ours has a component in it where we are going to double down on creating more shelters and more shelters beds, because we want to give those people a place to go, we don’t want to just push them down the street, we want to get them off the street,” Anderson said in an interview with FOX 5 Tuesday.
He has said the focus of the ordinance would be to protect vacant property from wildfires and protect the homeless who have been living along the riverbeds, where fires have been started.
“This is a regional issue, not a community issue,” Anderson said. “I’m not going to live like this and I’m not going to let any of my constituents who are homeless live like that either.
People on both sides of the issue spoke during public comment. While some people called this a step in the right direction, critics and supporters both agreed this would not be a long-term fix.
“I’m here to support it,” one man said during public comment. He went on to say, “this isn’t a solution, this is a stop gap measure to protect certain areas of our county, certain areas that need to be worked on.”
“When it comes to the solving the challenge of homelessness, we must first start with the dignity of all homelessness,” Samuel Tsoi, with the policy team for Alliance San Diego spoke out against the measure during public comment Tuesday. “Encampment bans violate human rights, punishing people for people sleeping on the street is the epitome of cruelty.”
Changes and revisions will be made before this is brought to another vote at the County Board of Supervisors.