Home>Articles>Bipartisan Bill to Create Statewide Homeless Encampment Ban Introduced In Senate

Senator Brian Jones and Senator Catherine Blakespear announce new SB 1011 legislation on 2/6/2024. (Photo: sr40.senate.ca.gov)

Bipartisan Bill to Create Statewide Homeless Encampment Ban Introduced In Senate

‘It’s dangerous, inhumane, and unhealthy for homeless individuals to live on sidewalks’

By Evan Symon, February 7, 2024 12:25 pm

A new bipartisan bill to ban homeless encampments from many public areas across the state was introduced in the Senate this week, with Republicans and Democrats coming together.

Senate Bill 1011, jointly authored by Senator Brian Jones (R-Santee) and Senator Catherine Blakespear (D-Encinitas), would  prohibit a person from sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property upon a street or sidewalk if a homeless shelter is available to the person. The bill would also prohibit sitting, lying, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property within 500 feet of a public or private school, open space, or major transit stop.

In addition, SB 1011 would specify that a violation of this prohibition is a public nuisance that can be abated and prevented and would also provide that a violation of the prohibition may be charged as a misdemeanor or an infraction, at the discretion of the prosecutor. The bill would prohibit a person from being found in violation of the bill’s provisions unless provided notice, at least 72 hours before commencement of any enforcement action.

Both the Senators wrote the bill because of the safety issues caused by homeless encampments. Notably, they highlighted how many encampments are near vulnerable people such as children and the elderly, and how homeless people themselves are in danger by setting up encampments so close to cars and other vehicles. Fairness to residents and businesses were another point, as drug use and trash build up in encampments impact both groups.

Both Senators also noted the success of local encampment bans in Los Angeles and San Diego. In an announcement on Tuesday, Jones specifically noted that SB 1011 was modeled on San Diego’s encampment ban because of the success of the program there.

“Californians should not have to tolerate the encampments that now fill our open spaces with trash, needles, and human waste,” Senator Jones said on Tuesday at a press conference. “We know that clearing encampments is possible when there is the political will to do so—just look at San Francisco during the APEC conference. It’s dangerous, inhumane, and unhealthy for homeless individuals to live on sidewalks, near our schools and transit stops, and in our open spaces. It’s also not safe or fair to nearby neighbors and local businesses. Our bipartisan SB 1011 will help compassionately clear encampments, clean up California, and protect public safety and health.”

“Our SB 1011 strikes the appropriate balance between accountability and compassion in helping tackle the homelessness crisis while putting public health and public safety as the top priority. Our measure will hopefully help end the public camping in sensitive community areas while also compassionately assisting the homeless to get treatment for their mental and health needs and find a more suitable place to stay. Simply buying more tents and saying ‘problem solved’ is not acceptable.”

Widespread support for SB 1011

“Public spaces are not living spaces,” Senator Blakespear also added. “People deserve to live inside, and the public deserve to use their parks, sidewalks and streets as they were designed. This bill is a step toward creating that reality.”

Unlike other encampment bills in the past, a large number of lawmakers from both parties threw their support behind SB 1011 immediately after being introduced. In the Senate, this included Senators Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson), Bill Dodd (D-Napa), Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), Brian Dahle (R-Bieber), Roger Niello (R-Fair Oaks), Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach), Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa), Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta) and Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita). Meanwhile, in the Assembly, Assemblymembers James Gallagher (R-Nicolaus), Heath Flora (R-Lodi), Juan Alanis (R-Modesto), Megan Dahle (R-Bieber), Joe Patterson (R-Fresno), Bill Essayli (R-Corona), Kate Sanchez (R-Rancho Santa Margarita), and Laurie Davis (R-Laguna Niguel) announced support.

While no lawmaker in Sacramento has yet to come forward against the bill, those in the Capitol say that, because of the bipartisan nature of the bill, it would be hard for any opposition to stop SB 1011 later this year.

“This is a mix of constituents being fed up with homeless encampments and the dangers they pose, successful programs being implemented in cities with a lot of homeless encampments, and many lawmakers who want to tackle the homeless issue,” said Dana, a Capitol staffer. “And it won’t take a lot to convince lawmakers from notoriously stubborn areas on homeless reform, like the Bay Area, to vote this way.”

“Besides constituent pressure, there is growing concern about encampment safety in those places. Today, there were stories about a record number of encampment fires occurring in San Francisco. While this bill isn’t a total solution, it would significantly cut down on incidents. And that’s just on fires. And if they vote against the bill, they’ll have to explain to their constituents, during an election year, why they went against the safety of the public and the safety of homeless people. You can say that the bill came out at the right time.”

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2 thoughts on “Bipartisan Bill to Create Statewide Homeless Encampment Ban Introduced In Senate

  1. I think this has the possibility of being a round about way to get more funds for more shelters and housing.

  2. We gave up our libraries,
    —we gave up our parks,
    —we gave up our creek beds,
    —we gave up on pollution of our beaches ,
    —we gave up our bikeway safety,
    —we gave up our RR tracks,
    —we gave up our freeway underpasses,
    —we gave up our downtown retail,
    —we gave up our bus stops bench,
    —we gave up our highway on ramps and off ramps
    —we gave up all public bathrooms

    …….. all turned over to vagrants.

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