SAN DIEGO – On Monday, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria laid out new initiatives in the effort to fight homelessness in the area.

“It’s about having fewer people on the streets. This shouldn’t be controversial. I have yet to meet a San Diegan, no matter where you are on the spectrum of this issue, that thinks it’s acceptable to have people living on the streets,” said Mayor Gloria.  

Gloria, alongside members of the San Diego City Council, made it clear that they are stepping up efforts to clear sidewalks through a new four-stroke policy.

The new enforcement policy directs the police to first direct a homeless person to a provided shelter or treatment program. The second contact comes with a citation for refusal of services. Contact three is a misdemeanor and if the tent owner refuses a fourth time, they can be arrested.

“We will offer people more options for shelter to meet their needs,” San Diego Councilmember Stephen Whitburn said. “But if they still refuse it, we need to enforce the rules that prohibit sidewalk camping. We have an obligation to clear and to clean our public walkways, and ensure that our sidewalks are free of encampments.”

City officials Monday said that they have already removed roughly 600 homeless persons from the streets by finding them temporary housing, treatment facilities, or permanent housing. Despite the number, Mayor Gloria said that he acknowledges that homeless numbers are on the rise and that they can’t ignore the problem.

“This mayor has not forgotten what happened when we turned a blind eye to encampments and 20 people died of something for which we have a vaccine. Ignoring this issue is a path to death for these folks,” Gloria said.

Last week, there were 1200 complaints logged with residents asking for tents to be removed from sidewalks.