As County and Downtown Hit Record Highs of Unhoused Citizens, San Diego City Council to Consider Mayor’s Plan to Restrict Homeless Encampments

by on June 9, 2023 · 4 comments

in Homelessness, San Diego

As San Diego Mayor Gloria called for the City Council to pass an ordinance on June 13th restricting homeless encampments throughout the city, recent counts of the county and downtown’s unhoused population show record highs.

A count conducted in January found a record high 10,264 homeless people throughout San Diego County, including 5,171 living outdoors or in vehicles. The results of the Jan. 26 count represent a 22 percent increase from last year’s count of 8,427 homeless people.

The count showed more women and seniors are homeless this year, and both represent a greater percent of the homeless population than last year. The number of homeless veterans also increased, though their percent of the population remained the same. SDU-T

At the same time, more than 2,000 homeless people were counted on the streets of downtown San Diego one night in May, marking a new high in the number of individuals living without shelter in the area. The number of people counted each month by Downtown San Diego Partnership has been rising since mid-2022, but has never reached the 2,000 milestone until the May 25 count, which found 2,104 people on sidewalks and in vehicles.

The unrelated annual countywide count of unhoused people noted above found 3,285 homeless people living without shelter in the city of San Diego, a 32 percent increase from 2022. SDU-T

Yet, with these record-breaking numbers, Gloria’s proposed ordinance — written by City Councilman Stephen Whitburn — would ban tent encampments at all times in certain sensitive areas — parks, canyons and near schools, transit stations and homeless shelters — regardless of shelter capacity, and would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available.

A Gloria-type ban is also being planned by the City of Poway.

To be fair, it has to be mentioned that Gloria has proposed a number of safe camping sites on city property outside of the downtown area, including a large maintenance yard at 20th and B streets. The council is set to vote on the ordinance June 13.

Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO at Father Joe’s Villages had this response to the new numbers:

“We are disheartened to learn that the homeless population continues to grow in San Diego at an alarming rate, and that so many families and individuals are living on the streets. This reality underscores the urgent need for action. These numbers serve as a stark reminder that we must implement more strategic solutions to eradicate homelessness from our community. …

We must continue to advocate for more diverse shelters, comprehensive services, including housing, meals, health care, behavioral health, employment services, and therapeutic childcare to help thousands of people overcome obstacles to housing and income.

Until we have enough shelter beds, many will remain living on the streets. Until we have enough affordable housing, the ultimate solution to homelessness, the number of unhoused will remain an issue.”

Vargas did not mention the encampment ban.




{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

anna daniels June 12, 2023 at 12:04 pm

Vote no against a ban that will not reduce homelessness and WILL increase the misery of homeless people.

Fill out an ecomment before tomorrow’s (July 13 meeting). It will be read at the meeting.
The agenda number is 613 Amendment to San Diego Municipal Code to prohibit unauthorized public encampments.


GML June 12, 2023 at 1:02 pm

Anna, what is your solution to handle these encampments that hurt local businesses, threaten the security of the people in the neighborhood and are unsafe for the occupants? I do understand it may not be ideal for some of the homeless but you also have to consider others as well.

There obviously isn’t an easy solution, if there was it would’ve been enacted by now. However, I do believe we need to try multiple steps to alleviate the problems encountered by both homeless and the general public. None of these will be an ultimate solution on their own but hopefully they improve things overall.


nostalgic June 12, 2023 at 5:53 pm

It’s easy. They will camp in your yard, on private property, or in the bank parking lot. They can only be offered shelter, and if they refuse, there are no private property rights.


Carl M Zanolli June 13, 2023 at 11:48 am

A lead story in the UT today has the headline: “Where Do They Want Us To Go?” San Diego’s Homeless People Question Proposed Encampment Ban”

The answer is quite simple: anywhere but public streets and places and parks. Perhaps those who oppose the proposed encampment bank would open up their homes and property. I’ll wager, however, those same people live far from where the so-called unsheltered are encamped or are even present. Those same people are only too happy to let others carry the burden who lives in those areas.


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