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San Diego considers public camping ban

 March 31, 2023 at 12:00 PM PDT

S1: It's time for roundtable on KPBS. Today , we're talking about a proposal from local leaders to ban camping in public places in San Diego. It's a response to something that can be hard to miss the large number of people living in encampments throughout the city. We asked you , our audience , what you thought of the proposed ban.

S2: Find a place for these homeless people to reside. Banning them from existing is not going to work unless you want to put them all in jail.

S1: Would building enough affordable housing solve the problem ? And how Los Angeles public camping ban has impacted the number of people living on the streets there ? That's ahead on Roundtable. First , the news. Welcome to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're back with you after a few weeks away. And we have some news. Roundtable will now be an hour on KPBS Radio Fridays at noon. And there's going to be a rebroadcast that's airing Sundays at 6 a.m.. You can also stream our show at or from the KPBS app. Today on the show , homelessness. It's a top concern for many San Diegans. And if you've been downtown recently , it's hard to miss the situation that's unfolding on the streets. Now , city leaders have a proposal to address homeless encampments , a ban on camping in public places. The city is also planning to start enforcing a law that prohibits people from living in their vehicles. Joining us to discuss all this news on homelessness are Lisa Haverstock. She's the senior investigative reporter with the voice of San Diego. Gary Worth is also back with us. He's a reporter with the San Diego Union Tribune who often reports on homelessness. And finally , Gail Holland joins us. She reports on homelessness and addiction for the Los Angeles Times. I want to welcome you all to roundtable. Lisa , we'll start with you. This camping ban ordinance.

S3: And so Steven Whitburn decided that there needed to be more places for people to go so that the city could make a visible dent in unsheltered homelessness. Because per a 2018 Federal Court ruling , you can't enforce any sort of camping ban unless there are shelter options for people. So what he is proposing is to ban camping on public property when there is shelter available , but then also to ban homeless camps at all times within two blocks of schools or shelters in parks , which includes Balboa Park and Mission Bay Park along trolley tracks and some other locations as well. And what he's saying is he wants to open what he's calling see safe sleeping sites where people can be where they're allowed to camp.

S1: And Lisa , we've seen multiple months of record numbers of homeless in downtown San Diego.

S3: The latest downtown partnership count , which is a downtown business group , they had counted more than 1830 people that were sleeping downtown and some areas just outside of it. Um , folks throughout the city are also seeing more open drug use among unhoused folks. And there's a feeling that people that are housed can't escape seeing or running into unhoused people. And unhoused people really feel that tension , too. I think that's really important to mention , that they feel that they're not wanted.

S1: Gary , we understand that this ordinance is supported by the mayor as well.

S4: It's about like for six months , the Downtown Partnership monthly count was breaking a record every month. There was a record number of people downtown until it reached almost 2000 people. And constituents are , you know , approaching the mayor. And Councilmember Whitburn just wouldn't whenever they see them , I think in public , I hear and and bringing it up to them and it it is very visible. And I did a story a few weeks ago on just the number of people who are living downtown and saying it's just the quality of their life is just being affected and they're losing compassion about what they're seeing and they're losing patience with the mayor and with the city. And they just want to change. And I , I feel in a way , you know , what they're saying , though , isn't that different ? Because just for the past several years , the mayor said , I don't want to see people living on the street. I you know , I think that that's unacceptable. It's not sanitary. We're going to do more outreach. And , you know , we saw waves of increased outreach , but we've also seen the number of people downtown increase. We've seen more shelter beds , you know , get established under the mayor. And we've still seen more people downtown living on the street. So I think that they're just kind of responding once again to a lot of feeling from people downtown who think , you know , you're not doing anything , though. So , you know , they made this statement that after they have a couple more things in place are going to try to do some more enforcement. And just as the mayor put it , not take no for an answer. And the perception that people are turning down services and shelter , that's not always true. There's usually a waiting list to get in the shelters. But it is true that when you ask a lot of people downtown who are on sidewalks , would you go into a shelter ? They do say no. They always say , yes , I would take housing. But when I've asked them said , would you consider keeping your tent and maybe being in some safe campground that cops wouldn't bother you. There would be be more sanitary. And they said , yeah though. But we've we've never had that though. And they're still talking about maybe having something like that.

S1: And Gail Holland from the Los Angeles Times is also here with us. Gayle , it sounds like Los Angeles also has a camping ban that's already in place.

S5: It's been there for two years and 2000 different sites near schools , daycare centers and some of the other categories have been cited. I don't know how many people in Los Angeles feel that the visual impact of encampments has changed enforcing. Well , for one thing , enforcement is very tricky because of the court decision that was. That was mentioned earlier. Enforcement. Every dollar you spend on enforcement is $1 that comes out of money that can be spent on housing , which is really what I think Los Angeles has come to the conclusion. I think we're a little bit ahead maybe of San Diego is the only solution. Shelters are expensive. Safe camping is also expensive. And there is a record I know there has been more recent safe camping places in Seattle and Portland that have worked well , But there is a history of disorder and some of the same problems that people see in the street and those campgrounds ending up being closed down. So think one , what Los Angeles is doing now kind of moving. They're still continuing to expand the same kind of no go zones that San Diego is. Sounds like they're about to start. But one of the the new mayor , Karen Bass , is trying to move encampments , everybody in one encampment together into a motel room and then move them to housing.

S1: The proposal in San Diego to ban camping on public property. It largely relies on shelter beds being available. I think everybody sort of mentioned this. And Lisa , we know that the city has been trying to increase the number of shelter beds they have.

S3: So as of this week , city officials told me that there are about 1829 shelter beds. Now , you know , as we talked about before , there are close to that number of people sleeping in the general downtown area. But if you look at the last point in time count , which we have the data for 2022 , and I would note that that is just broadly considered to be an undercount even by the organization that leads that effort. They counted just under 2500 people citywide in 2022. What we're seeing around the city suggest that there's going to be a higher number to report when the 2023 count is unveiled. Um , I think with this all comes down to is that the city is going to have to provide hundreds of additional options. And this is very challenging for a lot of reasons. It's it's tough to cite shelters. But to to Gary's point earlier , I think , you know , the type of shelter that they offer is really crucial as well. A lot of folks aren't necessarily interested in that straight shelter bed. However , I will tell you that in a given week , a good percentage of shelter referrals don't actually result in people being placed into housing. I think it's just , you know , about just over a third in an average week of shelter referrals , including from outreach workers , including from police , result in somebody actually ending up in a bed now. So it's not as if no one wants shelter. A lot of people do want shelter , but a lot of the people that the community is most concerned about , they may not want to go into it. That traditional shelter that that people envision of , you know , dozens of bunk beds in a single room.

S1: And Gary , we know that you spoke with one homeless advocate who says that this proposed public camping ban is sort of redundant.

S4: So if they wanted to enforce those , they and they have enforced those. So I , I don't see the big difference between , you know , it's like saying we're going to do this now when they could have done it already , you know , and they and they have you know , they've they've cited a lot of people for an encroachment and illegal lodging. And so that's that's what he meant by being redundant though. But I wanted to also add to , you know , something that Lisa was talking about. I think that the city does hold some shelter beds just to be able to legally , you know , force people to make a choice. You know , it's like we do have these shelter beds open , but they're about to lose shelter beds , too , with a winding down of the golden shelter. So that's like 500 beds. So it used , you know , before that announcement. Every time you open up a new shelter , it was a net gain. But now it's going to be just making up for something that's lost until they create another 500 beds. And then we could start seeing that that we're getting some some new beds as far as shelters go. But as as we were talking about , maybe they could offer something besides shelters like the. More safe parking lots and some a safe campground to.

S1: And that Golden Hall shelter that you mentioned. That's the old San Diego Convention Center located in downtown San Diego. And Gary , we know that you had a recent story about downtown condo owners , and they seem to be fed up with what they perceive as increases in homelessness in their neighborhood. We heard from someone from our audience who referred to it as compassion fatigue.

S4: And this is from some people who have told me I have been compassionate , but , you know , they might have had an encounter with somebody. And you always remember the bad encounter that you have. And and and maybe make a generalization about , you know , a group of people or even a profession , though. And , you know , I think everyone who lives downtown probably has had some kind of uncomfortable encounter with with somebody or they're just sick of having to walk around the sidewalk and push their baby carriage into the street because they can't use the sidewalks anymore. And and these people where they were living , it was a it was a bad area , but it wasn't even the worst area. They they were like on Ninth Street. And if you go on 17th Street , it's it's definitely a lot worse.


S3: And when he actually took office , though , he started making some of the comments like Gary was talking about , which are very similar to what Kevin Faulkner said , No is not an okay answer. You need to accept the services that are offered. He continued that enforcement and at different points has sort of ramped it up. And here we are again with this discussion , you know , of of cracking down with this with this new proposal. I will say I think he would probably want me to to say that he really has also tried to champion reforms and to work on getting more housing production , especially for that very low income and affordable housing and middle income housing as well. And you know that there has been an effort to really open up more shelters. But I think , you know , where I've seen the most variance in his approach is really when it comes to enforcement and his thoughts on that. And that's more comparing the campaign versus when he actually took the office.

S1: We'd like to hear from you about if you're affected by homelessness , give us a call at (619) 452-0228 and leave us a voicemail. Coming up , we'll hear some questions from our audience about this proposed camping ban.

S2: What are you going to do with all the homeless that are now in these encampments ? You're going to tell them it's illegal.

S1: You're listening to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. This week , we're discussing homelessness as the city of San Diego considers a ban on camping in public areas. Our guests are voice of San Diego's Lisa Halberstam. Gary Werth from the San Diego Union Tribune and Gail Holland from the Los Angeles Times. So , guys , we put out a question to our audience earlier asking if they agreed with the city's proposed ban. And in short , we got a lot of responses and most people we heard from do support the ban. But a lot of those people also mentioned the need for affordable housing and other wraparound services. Now , there were others who disagreed saying that it criminalizes homelessness and they ask where the city expects people to go. So we have some questions for you guys. We'll ask you guys to respond or help. Give us some perspective here. A question from Alisha. She said , Can't the city find a place nearby downtown like a field and make it a camp land for homeless ? But rules and recovery have to be followed ? Lisa I think you touched on this earlier. That has been in the works , right ? Yes.

S3: So I'll give you some history and then I'll talk about where we are currently. So months back , the city had identified a fairly small parking lot downtown that it wanted to put a safe campground on , but that plan fell apart. As I reported earlier this year , after a provider that the city had been in talks with walked away. And the big issue that sort of became clear to me at that time is that providers , Mayor Todd Gloria's office , the housing commission , which oversees a lot of the shelter contracts , they really think that you need to have a certain amount of staffing and amenities like bathrooms , you know , like certain services or oversight to make a project like this a success. So a lot of people think of , well , why don't you just , you know , tell people they can be in this parking lot. They aren't interested , though , at the city level in pursuing a sanctioned camp that doesn't have services and amenities. And so now to talk about where we are now. So the mayor and council member Whitburn recently had their press conference and they're I asked them about , okay , so you're talking about the piece of this this ordinance and crackdown. Where are people going to go ? And what I got them to to share with me is that they are checking out Inspiration Point , which is a parking lot in Balboa Park that is kind of far flung. It's on the edge of the park. A lot of people don't even know that it exists , but they're looking at that to see if it could be workable for some sort of safe campground. They're looking at other options , too. They haven't made their final decision yet. And what Mayor Gloria , as chief of staff told me is if the city were to proceed with inspiration point as its spot , it would probably put about 200 to 300 campsites there. And council member Whitburn has told me that he would want to make sure to respect the fact that this is located in a park and make sure that there's , you know , some sort of screen or something to make sure that people have their privacy. And also the park isn't so impacted by having this location. Now , still very much to be determined here. A big question that I have is how much is this all going to cost ? Is that going to be feasible ? How are they going to get utilities set up there ? Because that's often something that adds a lot of cost to is actually like making sure that when you go to the bathroom and has a place to go and that you can get running water. So that's where we are with that now.

S6: And we know that there's definitely been some delays on there , too. And Gary , we want to get your perspective here , too.

S1: Here's a similar question that we had.

S6: From a listener who.

S1: Called into the.

S6: Roundtable voicemail.

S2: My name is Joan and I live in San Diego. I don't know what good that's going to do. What are you going to do with all the homeless that are now in these encampments ? You're going to tell them it's illegal. Where are they supposed to go ? So the answer is. Find a place for these homeless people to reside. Banning them from existing is not going to work unless you want to put them all in jail. So I don't know what you're thinking. I think it's stupid to put a ban on people that don't have homes.

S6: Along those lines. Gary , you know , Lisa just talked about it , addressing the question of where people would go. I mean , it sounds like that the mayor and council member Whitburn have addressed that is the only option that Lisa is talking about. That's the one on the table.

S4: No , it actually it came up in the press conference. I think Lisa was the one who brought this up , that or maybe it was it was the mayor who brought it up that Lisa had written about. The regional Task Force on the Homeless Monthly report shows that a number of people are housed every month , like 700 and something. People , for instance , may be House of those , most of them like 500 and something find housing on their own. And I think the mayor brought up it's like , look , they don't all have to be going into shelters that the city is providing a lot of these people every month as this shows , find housing on their own. However , I don't think that those people are the same people that are just living on sidewalks and then deciding that they're going to go rent an apartment. I actually brought this up to Tamara Kohler , the head of the Regional Task Force on on Homelessness , and said , Who do you think those people are , that 500 people ? I've got a feeling that they are not chronically homeless people who are living on the sidewalks , but perhaps more likely is somebody who has just fallen into homelessness for a month or two and might have some temporary situation and then they do financing on their own. So I don't think it's that easy that just to say , well , maybe they're just going to find their own housing , where else they might go ? I don't know. But maybe on the trolley and go to another city , though , to the east or to the south , if if they continue to get hassled by police telling them that they're not supposed to be. And that's not a solution. You know , we don't want to see that happen , to just have homeless people go to Santee or somewhere south of San Diego. And nobody is saying that that is what might happen. But , you know , I got to think , if somebody doesn't want to go in into a shelter and they also don't want to be bothered , you know , hassled by a cop every day , they they may take another alternative. And and and they may go someplace else. And that won't be a very friendly , neighborly thing to do for another city.

S1: And Gayle , how is Los Angeles handled , this idea.

S6: Of where.

S1: People would go.


S5: And these they're not traditional. They're called a bridge home. They're not traditional large shelters. They're they're much more controlled population , but they don't have enough places for people to go. I think with the new mayor and the person she put in charge of the homeless authority , they would like to see more money going to permanent housing because temporary housing is not of all the different descriptions , is not has not thus far made much of a dent.

S1: Lisa you know , Gayle brought up this idea that in Los Angeles they're using kind of these tiny homes. I remember seeing that in headlines that that was something that San Diego was going to do. Whatever happened to that.

S3: So that has been discussed a lot over the years in San Diego. I believe there are now some tiny homes in El Cajon that I think Gary has written about in the past. And there are some discussions , you know , initially when they were talking about the safe villages or the safe campground , there was some thought , could they be tiny home villages ? Possibly. I will say that the next big thing on the tiny home front is that the governor recently decided to send communities across the state , basically these these tiny homes , for lack of a better term. And San Diego will be getting 150 of them. So I'll be watching to see what is the decision on where those go and how will they be used. There is a lot of debate on , you know , the efficacy of tiny homes. And , you know , you still have to have I mean , the the question that just comes up constantly with with all of these topics we're talking about today is where is it going to go ? Like whether it's a tent camp , whether it's a tiny home , whether it's a permanent home , you have to figure out where it's going to go. And that's a challenge in San Diego , just as it is across the state.

S1: And Gary , a couple of our audience members. They called into question the legality of this proposed ban. An audience member named Marisa wrote in saying it's illegal to ban camping if there's nowhere else for people to go. And we know we've talked about this.

S6: Court ruling and we know.

S1: Part of the San Diego proposal does take this into account.

S6: But I.

S1: Know you're not an attorney , but does Marisa have a point there that.

S6: This could be.


S4: Think it was from 2017. And after that , you know , it was decided that you can't cite people for sleeping in a public place if they don't have any other place to go. So cities have gotten around that , though. For instance , in Oceanside , there was a large encampment and there was no shelter in Oceanside. So they created a hotel voucher program. And the day that went into effect was the day that they cleared out that large encampment. So you legally do have to give people a choice and understand that sometimes they do leave a dozen or so shelter beds open specifically to be able to use them for that type of enforcement. Now then there's this other level of enforcement that Lisa referred to that they want to do near schools and parks and say no exceptions , even if there's no other place , you know , no shelter , bed open , you're not going to be allowed to be here. And Brian Jones had proposed a bill that does the same thing statewide. It would prohibit outdoor camping in certain places. And the mayor didn't explain it , but I think he said we've already talked to the city attorney and he says that it's that will be legal to do so. I'm not sure how , but I guess you can say you can't camp in some places no matter what , and that that court decision doesn't apply. But overall , it's like I guess we're thinking that , well , if you move to someplace else , then we'll let you stay there if there's not a shelter bed open.

S3: Well , part of what they're using there is public health and safety is what they're really hanging their hat on with that piece. And , you know , I'd be really interested to hear , you know , if Gayle has any insight on how that's worked in LA or some of these other communities that have done that , because the argument San Diego is making is they can say , you know , you can't be in some of these areas because it poses a safety risk. Now , we'll have to see more of the legal analysis. We haven't seen a final ordinance , but I'm not sure how they've worked that out in other communities.

S5: Well , I think part of it is that no lawyer wants to go to court for the right for an encampment to sit next to a preschool or an elementary school. I mean , there would be a huge consensus that there should not be encampments while kids are walking to and from school or getting dropped off by their parents. I think that one of the things that came to mind while you were talking is part of what's going on right now in Los Angeles is that Los Angeles can have that on the books for two years. It doesn't seem to have had a great impact. But then city of Santa monica had a surge downtown surgeon encampments that sounds similar to yours. They passed the ordinance and then the city of Culver City did , because they neighbor each other. And their concern is that the people will be pushed into their area and it becomes kind of an arms race. And as far as enforcement and the legality of the enforcement , I think a problem with that is that it becomes arbitrary. There's no way that in Los Angeles they can possibly patrol 2000 sites that are no ghost sites. So by definition , some people will be cited in one area and other people will not be. And some people who object to the school in their area being near an encampment will be able to get that encampment moved and other people will not. And that's something that could have legal implications but mean a lot of the decisions. It's not like there's a huge rich lobby of lawyers or law firms that want to bring civil rights litigation on behalf of homeless people. A lot of the decisions that have been won , including the Boise decision that you mentioned , were done on the cheap by small groups. So to some extent , it's who has the will to go to court.

S1: And we do have some more sound here.

S6: We have one from.

S1: A listener who did not provide a name , but they also brought up sort of what we were talking.

S6: About earlier , this idea that laws are already on the books that prohibit encampments.

S7: It's not for lack of legislation. It's for lack of enforcement. Police have not been allowed to enforce existing laws. Duh.



S6: Could be the case , that these laws.


S3: And you know , the city is this listener pointed out , does have rules on the books related to homeless camps. But the department has cut staffing for that division and cut overtime for this this division that does that sort of enforcement. And so there's a question of does the police department have the capacity to enforce these current rules or the new rules ? And obviously , that's that's controversial. A lot of folks don't feel that it's appropriate that they should be enforcing. And I think it's also important to note that the enforcement itself for crimes associated with homelessness is complicated because the city follows a progressive enforcement model , which means that there are multiple contacts before somebody is cited or arrested for one of these violations. And so if you're the resident that's calling in or making a Get It Done complaint on the city's app , you might call or make a complaint. And it might be that the police are coming out multiple times before there's ever any action and maybe there's no action because there aren't aren't shelter beds available. So I think it's really important in the context of this to think about police staffing. I will note , too , and I said this to the mayor the other week as well , he had announced several months back that he wanted to have unhoused individuals take their their tents down during the day. I think anybody looking around San Diego right now would tell you that that's not happening. The reason for that , from everything I've been able to report , is that something very similar to what Gail was saying before is you can't have a police officer on every corner and there's a staffing shortage on top of that. So the enforcement will be challenging. Now , I will say after this press conference , I reached out to the San Diego Police Department. They said that they're supportive. They're going to do whatever they can to support this new tool , as they would refer to it if the city council indeed approves the ordinance. But I'm going to be watching to see what they're actually able to do if it does pass. And I do suspect that , you know , it's not going to be an overnight difference and what things look like around the city.

S1: And our final question from our audience. It's a woman named Lenora who agrees with the ban and says that the current situation is unsanitary , unsightly , bad for families , tourists and homeless. Gary , question for you here. You know , we've seen some of these unsanitary conditions contribute to public health crises. People may remember the hepatitis A outbreak back in 2017 , starting to see some more of those cases. Again , not yet.

S6: Considered an outbreak , but.

S1: How big of a concern is it ? You know , this aspect of the problem as it relates to to public health or unsanitary conditions.

S4: It's always a concern. And like Lisa said , that that's what they're hanging their hat on , saying this is a public safety and health issue. It's it's very unsanitary. They they do abatements and they make people clear out and then they clean the sidewalk and people just move back in. And yeah , an outbreak can happen any time , but it's just unsanitary conditions overall. It stinks on 17th Street and you walk down it and there's a I mean , you you could find drug paraphernalia. You see people using drugs , you know , openly to and there is worse things that you see on the street. And even though they they clean up , it's mean it's also dangerous in some ways like when they did the big abatement on Sports Arena Boulevard. You know , the the the crew that did the work talk to me afterwards and you know , they were finding things that they were really afraid that they were just dangerous , like , you know , kerosene cans , open fuel. And and , you know , we've known there's been fires and in encampments before. So there's a lot of unsanitary conditions. And it's it's always going to be a health issue and it's. It's just like drugs.

S5: That some of the worst health outbreaks among homeless people have happened at shelters. Of course , it's very unsanitary on the street and we all see what it looks like. So I think we know it's dangerous and it's unsanitary , but those problems don't necessarily go away by putting people in shelters. The biggest disease outbreak that ever had homeless people in Los Angeles was a shelter outbreak of tuberculosis.

S1: We'd like to hear from you all our audience , about if you're affected by homelessness. Give us a call at (619) 452-0228 and leave us a voicemail. Our discussion continues right after the break. You're listening to KPBS Roundtable. You. You're listening to KPBS Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about recent news on homelessness in San Diego. Our guest this week are Lisa Halberstadt from Voice of San Diego. Gail Holland from the Los Angeles Times and Gary Werth from the San Diego Union Tribune. You know , Gary , maybe one piece of news that's sort of flown under the.

S6: Radar is San Diego Mayor Todd. Gloria says that the city.

S1: Will once again start enforcing the ban on people living in their vehicles.

S6: That was something that the previous.

S1: Mayor , Kevin Faulkner , pushed harder on that vehicle camping ban.

S6: Gary , it's been on.

S1: Hiatus since the pandemic.


S4: And that's going to be the ones that in Claremont that has some of the FEMA cottages that are trailers that they've had for a couple of years. They also changed the hours at the parking lot that's around the the stadium. So it's it allows RVs to be there 24 hours. And I guess it's just thinking that this is a way of getting these people into the lots that they're paying for. We want these people off the street. It was never legal before. They got a break for a while. But we're spending this money on these safe parking lots. And this is a way of encouraging people to to get in them , I think.

S1: And quickly , Lisa , I know you've done some great reporting showing how cars can be a.

S6: Lifeline for the. Unhoused.

S1: Unhoused.

S3: So , you know , just to so everybody's clear , you know , this law bans sleeping in vehicles and there has been a federal legal challenge , a federal case actually challenging this this enforcement. And the attorney who's leading that charge told me she was just completely caught off guard by the news that this enforcement was going to be restarting. But she actually thought it was good for her lawsuit because she said it will allow her to collect more evidence of how this is harming her unhoused clients. But , of course , she and other advocates are very angry about this. They argue that there aren't enough safe places for people to park in their vehicles and that the specifics of these lots often don't work for all of the folks. You know , it can be really hard for people in RVs , for example , to get into the Mission Valley lot. It's it's kind of hard to get in and out of , I hear. And , you know , now two of the lots are going to be 24 hours , but that had certainly been a problem. Also , you know , a lot of folks have broken down vehicles. They're not in the nicest vehicles. And so , you know , driving in to one of these locations might be challenging. And then there's also the fact that you have to get intake into one of these places. You can't just most of the time just drive up and get in. There's a process and , you know , certainly that can kind of hold some folks back who might otherwise be interested. You know , maybe they decide to go elsewhere because they can't get a spot or maybe their vehicle gets towed before they can actually get a safe parking spot. That is something that I have heard from a couple of others whose vehicles were towed last year.

S1: And Gail , have you seen anything in Los Angeles ? Is that a pretty.

S6: Big like a lot of people sleeping.

S1: In their vehicles out there ? It sounds like.

S6: Los Angeles has something similar to San Diego.

S5: Yeah , they do. And I think to the extent that there is enforcement and again , those no go areas near parks and and schools , there's enforcement against people living in their cars in those within those same limits. But there's also a lot of areas where it's tolerated. And in my own neighborhood , there's there's a number of streets where it's clearly tolerated because it's not hidden. There's , you know , along the freeway , there's a lot of trailers and RVs. I don't think it's as big a focus of people's anger as the street encampments. So I , I haven't heard about a lot of enforcement.

S1: And Lisa , let's come back as we wrap up here to the proposed camping ban.



S3: And before that happens , they'll have to release the actual ordinance. And I know there's a lot of folks literally just today got an email from somebody who's interested in seeing that ordinance. I don't know for sure that it's going to go direct to council yet or if there's a chance it might go to a committee hearing first. But I think there's going to be some action on that this coming month.



S3: I believe it's going to restart April 1st.

S1: And as we wrap up the show here , quick final thoughts. What are you looking for ? Or ahead as it relates to homelessness. And Lisa will start with you.

S3: Well , certainly , you know , April is going to be a busy month for homelessness news. I'll be watching to see what happens with this camping ordinance and any updates on the possible safe campground. Brian Jones , as we talked about earlier , state senator also may try to get his legislation in front of a committee again , which which also looks at trying to ban homeless camps in certain sensitive areas. And then we also have former Mayor Kevin Faulkner , who's working on a ballot measure. I'm really eager to see what that's about. And then always just there's there's a lot of people suffering on the street. And I just think we shouldn't shouldn't lose sight of that suffering as we talk about this and that people are out there every day living in this and that crisis continues.


S4: A lot is going to be happening this this month and also the start of the ban on vehicle habitation. I think Lisa and I will be out on the street talking to some people in in cars who might have to deal with that. That's that that's going to be a big change happening. But I'm eager to see , you know , what's going to happen with inspiration point or wherever something may is be decided to put up something like that. Just looking for , you know , like new proposals. I think Father Joe's is working on , you know , two new sites that they want to develop for for housing. There's one vacant site and then there's the God's extended hand , um , you know , ministry there. They're going to demolish that building and , and , you know , taking and Vargas had a Father Joe's who was saying , I want to hold Mayor Gloria to what he said about having 30 day processing , you know , for affordable housing. And he was hoping that this project will get built a lot faster than past ones had.

S5: Well , not until it's I'm. I think it'll be great if the council decides to actually order a study of a similar ordinance. We have that's already been in place for two years and see what the impact has actually been. And also Los Angeles had a $2.1 billion housing. For homeless people initiative and that housing should start actually in real numbers coming online. I have covered this for a long time. I have met the people who people think are don't want to come in. But now for years , the city is getting people in motel rooms , hotel rooms and people that I've known for years on the street are getting housed. But it seems to me they're in apartments and they're in motel rooms. They are not staying in shelters.

S1: We're going to have to end it there for this week's edition of KPBS Roundtable. And I want to thank our guests , voice of San Diego's Lisa Haverstock staff , Gary Wirth from the San Diego Union Tribune and the Los Angeles Times. Gail Holland Roundtable is produced by Andrew Bracken , and Rebecca Chacon is our technical director. I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. And remember , we'd love to hear your thoughts on today's show. Feel free to leave us a message by calling (619) 452-0228. Thanks so much for being here with us. Have a great. Weekend.

S6: Weekend.

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A San Diego Police Department officer searches a homeless man who lives in an encampment on Sports Arena Boulevard in the Midway District, February 14, 2022.
Matthew Bowler
A San Diego Police Department officer searches a homeless man who lives in an encampment on Sports Arena Boulevard in the Midway District, February 14, 2022.

On KPBS Roundtable on Friday, homelessness is a top concern for many San Diegans. If you’ve been downtown recently, it’s hard to miss the situation unfolding on the streets. Now, city leaders have a proposal to address the homeless encampments: a camping ban in public places. The city is also planning to enforce a law that prohibits people from living in their vehicles. Also, San Diego’s homelessness czar is leaving her post this week.


Lisa Halverstadt, senior investigative reporter with Voice of San Diego

Gary Warth, reporter, The San Diego Union-Tribune

Gale Holland, reporter, the Los Angeles Times