Mayor Todd Gloria campaigns for the Unsafe Camping Ordinance at Balboa Park
Days before the San Diego City Council is set to vote on a proposed Unsafe Camping Ordinance designed to get unsheltered people off the streets, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria made another pitch supporting the ordinance, with a news conference Friday inside the Mingei International Museum.
“It’s also one of the museums, among the many cultural institutions in our city’s crown jewel that have been impacted by homeless encampments,” Gloria said.
The Unsafe Camping Ordinance would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available.
It would also ban them at all times in certain sensitive areas, such as in parks, canyons and near schools — regardless of shelter capacity.
Gloria was joined by Parks and Recreation Department director Andy Field, who said, “Our staff have been subject to attacks, threats of violence and aggressive encounters with people, all while they are just trying to do their job."
Field went on to describe what his staff sees on a daily basis: “Drug paraphernalia, hypodermic needles, weapons, fires, aggressive dogs, human waste, soiled clothing and filth and trash, stolen property, prostitution, vandalism, damage to restrooms and playgrounds.”
A group of protestors rallied against the ordinance outside of the Mingei, including John Brady with Lived Experience Advisers, a group that assists the unhoused.
“Writing an ordinance that criminalizes homelessness is A: unnecessary because we already have an ordinance that does that, and B: does nothing to solve the fundamental problem that we don’t have beds and we don’t have housing for people that have recovered,” Brady said.
Brady also sits on several homeless advocacy boards and says no one in that space thinks this ordinance is a solution.
“It’s a political maneuver,” Brady continued, “And it’s a lie and there is not going to be any good outcomes.”
Gloria said a safe sleeping program is being introduced along with the ordinance. The program will provide two sites, with approximately 534 city-provided individual tents, bathroom facilities and security.
“We can’t help these people unless they say yes,” Gloria said. “The unsafe camping ordinance is another tool to get folks to say yes.”
According to Gloria, if the ordinance is passed on June 13, one of the safe sleeping sites could be open by July 1.