State Sen. Brian Jones joined local leaders Friday at a news conference to announce a bill which would make it illegal to camp within 1,000 feet of “sensitive” areas where children gather.
The bill is intended to address the state’s homelessness situation, Jones said at Grape Day Park in Escondido alongside former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and Escondido City Councilman Joe Garcia, among others.
“We cannot simply continue allowing people to live in our parks and libraries or in front of schools and day-care centers,” said Jones, a Republican who represents East County. “It’s inhumane and unhealthy for the homeless to do so, and it’s unfair and often dangerous for the neighbors, families, and children in these sensitive areas.
“Our measure, along with recent “CARES” legislation sponsored by Go. Newsom, will hopefully help end the public camping in these areas while also compassionately assisting the homeless get treatment for their mental and health needs and find a more suitable place to stay, he said.
Jones will introduced the bill in the State Senate on Dec. 5, the first day of the upcoming legislative session.
“Homelessness is soaring in California and it’s soaring in San Diego,” Faulconer said. “It’s devastating for the people who are living it and of course it’s devastating for the communities and neighborhoods that are experiencing it. A street is not a home, period. This is commonsense and this bill will put commonsense into California law.”
According to Jones, the legislation is designed after a recent city of Los Angeles measure, aimed at preventing homeless encampments from being near sensitive areas where children are often present or gather.
Under Jones’ bill, law enforcement would first issue verbal and written warnings to those living in the encampments within 1,000 feet of those “sensitive” areas that they need to leave the area within 72 hours or face removal and possible misdemeanor prosecution.
“We see this bill as a bridge from a life surviving in chaos to a bridge over to a solution,” said Michael Branch, CEO of East County Transitional Living Center. “We can work for a solution for change.”
For those facing removal, the legislation would also require they be provided with information about homeless resources and agencies in the area.
“Alpha Project strives not to manage homelessness, but rather to end it for its clients by offering jobs not handouts, respect not pity and empowerment not control,” said Bob McElroy, CEO of Alpha Project, a homelessness-focused local nonprofit. “We believe Senator Brian Jones’s proposed legislation will help us carry out our organization’s mission by finding the appropriate balance between accountability and compassion as we lift individuals out of homelessness.”