SAN DIEGO — Mayor Todd Gloria is urging the San Diego City Council to pass a new ordinance that would help clean up tent encampments in certain areas at certain times across the city.
Families and the school staff at Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan have raised concerns about students being exposed to possibly dangerous homeless encampments as they walk to the campus.
Tents and trash line the streets just around the corner from the school, with homeless encampments blocking the sidewalks, forcing people, including kids, onto the street.
Speaking at the elementary school Tuesday morning, Mayor Todd Gloria said his proposed Unsafe Camping Ordinance, as well as, funding for the Safe Sleeping Program, need to pass in order to protect the public’s health and safety.
The Unsafe Camping Ordinance would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces within the city if shelter beds are available.
It would also prohibit tent encampments at all times in sensitive areas like parks or near schools, regardless of shelter capacity.
Perkins Elementary Principal Fernando Hernandez is hoping the city council responds by approving the ordinance next month.
“Some of our students have witnessed things that they shouldn’t see,” Hernandez said. “People in the process of defecating, people in the process of putting needles in their arms, cussing, people that are having psychotic episodes. Things that our students and children in Barrio Logan see on a daily basis.”
“As your mayor, I want to say very clearly, ‘that is not Ok!’” Gloria said.
The efforts to ban homeless encampments under certain parameters is a start to provide a real solution, according to Gloria.
“This is a two-part effort. The Unsafe Camping Ordinance will have a companion item at the same city council meeting surrounding our comprehensive shelter strategy and specifically a safe sleeping program at two sites at the edge of Balboa Park that will accommodate hundreds of unsheltered individuals in city provided tents,” Gloria said.
The Safe Sleeping Program would be located in Balboa Park at the 20th and B Street lot and Parking Lot O. The program would also provide bathrooms, security and other services for unsheltered individuals.