Assemblymember Marie Waldron – Surveys indicate that 70% of Californians see homelessness as a big problem. That’s understandable since almost one half of all unsheltered homeless persons live in California, though we have only about 12% of the nation’s total population. Over the past three years, our homeless population increased by over 22,000 persons, to almost 174,000. In San Diego County, the homeless population increased by 10% in the last year alone. California spent $20 billion on the problem in recent years, but homelessness has only gotten worse.
Immediate action must be taken. That’s why I joined Senator Brian Jones to co-author Senate Bill 1011 (SB 1011), which creates a concrete and humane solution for homelessness. The bill will prohibit a person from sitting, lying, sleeping or storing personal property on a street or sidewalk, and within 500 feet of a public or private school, parks or major transit stops.
SB 1011 mirrors actions taken recently by several local governments. These include the City of Los Angeles, which banned homeless encampments near certain schools, parks and daycare centers, and the City of Sacramento, which banned encampments within 500 feet of schools, childcare centers, colleges and hospitals
SB 1011 will require enforcement officers to provide information about sleeping alternatives, homeless and mental health services, and/or shelters in the area. The bill requires a 72-hour warning period before an encampment is cleared to give homeless persons a chance to find a shelter or other services. After the 72 hour warning period, the camp can be declared a public nuisance, and individuals may be charged with misdemeanors or infractions, at the prosecutor’s discretion.
Drug abuse and mental illness are major root causes of our growing homelessness crisis. Allowing homeless encampments to fester in our communities without intervention or care for the homeless is inhumane. The negative impact on homeless persons themselves and on the safety and overall quality of life in surrounding communities should not be allowed in a civilized society.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, R- Valley Center, represents the 75th Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes the cities of Poway, Santee, portions of the City of San Diego, and most of rural eastern and northern San Diego County.
Assemblymember Marie Waldron, AD 75 9820 Willow Creek Rd, Ste 240, San Diego, CA 92131Phone: (858) 566-7538