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Bi-partisan bill would ban some homeless encampments

Lynn Friedman
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Flickr / Creative Commons

Modeled after San Diego's "Unsafe Camping Ordinance," Senate Bill 1011 prohibits encampments within 500 feet of schools, open spaces and major transit stops.

It also bans camping on sidewalks if shelter space is available; requires cities or counties to give an unhoused person 72-hour notice before clearing an encampment; and mandates "enforcement personnel" to provide information about homeless shelters in the area.

Jones told Bay City News, "California has spent $22 billion in the past six years on homelessness and what do we have to show for it? Nearly a 40 percent increase in the homeless population.... Clearly California's current approach to homelessness is failing and Californians are tired of it."

The most recent count found more than 181,000 unhoused Californians last year, nearly 30 percent of the national total.

Jones denied that the legislation was an attempt to criminalize homelessness, arguing that the problem is a nonpartisan issue.

Though both legislators emphasized clearing encampments "compassionately," advocates for unhoused people argue that displacing homeless people from their dwellings is traumatizing and dangerous to their health.

Sunni M. Khalid is a veteran of more than 40 years in journalism, having worked has in print, radio, television, and web journalism.