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Debate Continues Over Ticketing the Homeless


For about two years, San Diego has been involved in a legal battle over ticketing homeless people who sleep on the streets of downtown. Police issue hundreds of tickets a year to homeless people for what’s called “illegal lodging.” But homeless people and their lawyers argue that practice is unconstitutional. In fact, earlier this year the 9th Circuit Court of appeals ruled against the City of Los Angeles in a similar case. A court panel decided that ticketing homeless people for sleeping on the street, when homeless shelters were full, was cruel and unusual punishment.

Los Angeles has decided to appeal that ruling. But the San Diego city attorney wants to abide by the court’s decision. City Attorney Mike Aguirre has entered into talks with homeless advocates that have resulted in a proposal to create legal homeless sleeping zones. The Mayor and the police chief, however, don’t like this idea at all.


  • Fred Sainz, spokesman for Mayor Jerry Sanders.
  • Tim Cohelan, local attorney who represents homeless people as a member of the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program.

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