SAN DIEGO — Mayor Todd Gloria joined city park officials and community leaders Friday at Balboa Park’s Mingei International Museum to highlight the impacts that homeless encampments are having on parks and open spaces across San Diego.

“Park users and park employees regularly encounter makeshift camps with piles of garbage, damaged or destroyed restrooms, discarded hypodermic needles, feces and urine and other hazards created by people who should not be living in or near our parks,” Gloria said. “And we cannot help the people who are living in these encampments if they continue to say ‘no’ to services. The City Council must pass the Unsafe Camping Ordinance to protect our parks and the health and safety of all San Diegans.”  

The Unsafe Camping Ordinance, proposed by Councilmember Stephen Whitburn, would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available and would ban tent encampments at all times in certain sensitive areas, such as in parks, including Balboa Park, canyons and near schools, transit stations and homeless shelters – regardless of shelter capacity.

“If they do the encampment ban, we’re just going to move to your neighborhood,” said
Rachel Hayes, who lives on the street.

Hayes says she’s been waiting to get into housing for 10 years and that there needs a to be a housing plan before a ban is implemented.

Homeless advocate John Brady says without a plan to house people, the move will not solve the problem.

“It’s a lie to represent people as service resistant when hundreds of people every week can’t get into shelter because we don’t have beds,” said Brady.

Gloria says additional shelters are part of the proposed plan but advocates are skeptical.

City Council is expected to vote on the Unsafe Camping Ban Tuesday.