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Homeless Advocate Decries Imperial Beach’s Move To Ban People From Sleeping On Streets

Imperial Beach's city logo, Sept. 23, 2019.

Photo by Nicholas McVicker

Above: Imperial Beach's city logo, Sept. 23, 2019.

Imperial Beach says its decision last Wednesday to ban people from sleeping on city streets is an effort to clean up the neighborhood.

"We need a regional approach to this issue (homelessness) and Imperial Beach needs to be a good partner in that, and this isn’t being a good partner," said homeless advocate Michael McConnell.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

McConnel said Imperial Beach prohibiting people from sleeping on sidewalks and city property is telling.

"They obviously don’t want homeless people in their city," he said.

Imperial Beach City Manager Andy Hall said that is not true.

Reported by Matt Hoffman , Video by Nicholas Mcvicker

"We don’t have a lot of homeless people here — but we don’t chase them off," Hall said. "We don’t give them a bus ticket, we don’t just try to chase them out of town we try to find them shelter."

But Hall said the city has seen an increase in trash and human waste from people who are homeless.

"We’re really trying to balance the ability to keep the community safe and sanitary while at the same time being compassionate with the homeless," he said.

McConnell said the city should be helping the homeless instead of trying to move the problem elsewhere.

"Imperial Beach can’t disconnect themselves from the region and in the region, there is 8,000 to 10,000 homeless people," he said.

Homelessness was not mentioned in the actual ordinance adopted last week, but it was discussed before it was approved. City officials said they will not be using the law to crack down on the homeless.

"I don’t think we would ever get involved with someone sleeping — that’s not the issue," said Hall. "What we have been challenged with lately is the accumulation of debris."

Imperial Beach had previously prohibited people from sleeping in parks and beaches. The city might be opening itself up to lawsuits. It says it will deal with them when or if they come.

San Diego News Matters podcast branding

As childbirth is riskier for some moms than others, local groups are working to address the threat. Plus, Imperial Beach has banned people from sleeping on its streets in what the city says is an effort to cleanup the neighborhood. But homeless advocates say it’s criminalizing homelessness. Also on today’s podcast, hear how high schools students across San Diego recently ... Read more →

Aired: September 24, 2019 | Transcript

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