Slim Majority of City Council Finalizes Their Ban on Tent Encampments

by on June 28, 2023 · 3 comments

in Homelessness, Ocean Beach, San Diego

On Tuesday, June 27, the San Diego City Council approved the City’s controversial “Unsafe Camping Ordinance,” which bans tent encampments in certain public areas of the city in its second and final vote on the measure.

The exact same line-up of council members voted for and against it as they had back on June 13.

Council members Marni von Wilpert, Joe LaCava, Stephen Whitburn – the author of the proposal, Jen Campbell, and Raul Campillo voted again for the ordinance, and Council members Sean Elo-Rivera, Monica Montgomery Steppe, Kent Lee and Vivian Moreno voted against it.

Reportedly, once the city launches a Safe Sleeping Program that would allow for more than 500 tents at two sites near Balboa Park –the first one is expected to open by July 1st on 20th and B St. — enforcement of the new rules would begin 30 days afterwards.

The Unsafe Camping Ordinance makes tent encampments illegal in certain public areas, if shelter beds are available. But – and here’s the catcher – in some areas, like near schools or homeless shelters, or in parks, canyons, and beaches, encampments would not be allowed at any time, regardless of shelter capacity.

“It is legally, practically, and morally not the right thing for us to do at this time,” said Council President pro Tem Monica Montgomery.

Long-time homeless solutions advocate, Michael McConnell, was one of 30 people who showed up in Council Chambers — most of whom opposed the measure. McConnell told the council:

“It’s just going to make things worse, we all know it. We’re going to see the same folks on the streets, they’re just going to move around to different neighborhoods.”

With the 2023 point-in-time count recording a minimum of 6,500 people experiencing homelessness, critics say there are not enough shelter beds to fit the need. One opponent said, “To the general public, I can assure you that there will be no good outcomes and reduction in homelessness. Our system is overwhelmed, we need housing.”

Critics also maintain the harsher portion of the new law is unconstitutional and many expect a legal challenge.

News source: CBS8

The new law does not include all parks:  changes pushed by Councilwoman Marni von Wilpert means the ordinance now would only apply in parks where the city determines there is a “significant public health and safety risk” and signs are posted.

And good ol’ Councilman Joe LaCava successfully added language clarifying that beaches are covered by the ban and that shelter availability rests on whether there is an open shelter bed that meets the needs of the homeless person police are engaging.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

DiegoK June 28, 2023 at 10:38 am

Why doesn’t the City use the old Chargers training facility on Murphy Canyon Rd. as a camp site? This location is owned by the City has grass and artificial turf fields, locker rooms, classrooms and offices for support services.

The City should create separate camping locations, one for the mentally ill, another for drug addicts and another for those who are able to work or can’t afford rent and see if they can start to get the latter group back to work and into a viable living situation.


Mat Wahlstrom June 29, 2023 at 7:59 pm

Wow, yes, DiegoK! Call our electeds out on how serious they are about “actions” instead of “acting!” Certainly not a new idea,


Gravitas June 28, 2023 at 10:42 am

Good idea Diego…OR just go with Bill Walton’s plan.


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