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President Trump Announces That The Homeless Problem In San Francisco Could Be Given Notice By The EPA

An EPA sanction against an entire city would be unprecedented

By Evan Symon, September 19, 2019 5:48 pm

President Donald Trump has announced that he will have the EPA give the city of San Francisco “notice” over the pollution caused by the homeless in the city.

Trump’s announcement came during his two day visit of California. In a statement made on board Air Force One, President Trump announced his decision.

“It’s a terrible situation that’s in Los Angeles and in San Francisco,” stated President Trump. “And we’re going to be giving San Francisco – they’re in total violation – we’re going to be giving them a notice very soon.”

The president further clarified that the EPA will be giving the city a notice for “a very serious violation,” while the EPA also clarified, saying the issue was about water and the impact of wastewater.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed responded in a tweet, calling Trump’s remarks “ridiculous,” stating that the city had a commitment to combating homelessness and water quality.

“If the President wants to talk about homelessness, we are committed to working on actual solutions, like adding 1,000 new shelter beds by next year and working to pass a $600 million affordable housing bond to create more badly needed housing,” announced Mayor Breed.  “In San Francisco we are focused on advancing solutions to meet the challenges on our streets, not throwing off ridiculous assertions as we board an airplane to leave the state.”

The EPA notice is widely seen as a move by Trump against the city of San Francisco, whose residents have not been supportive of him.

However, the notice, and possible investigation, is largely surprising. The EPA usually reserves notices for companies violating pollution standards, such as Occidental Chemicals over the Love Canal chemical dumping disaster in the late 1970’s, or against Volkswagen for illegally altering their diesel vehicles to pass inspections in 2015.

An EPA notice has never gone to an entire city before. The closest equivalent would be the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2017 for failing to correct water pollution during the Flint Water Crisis

For San Francisco, an EPA notice could mean anything from helping implement higher standards to combat homeless waste pollution to facing large fines.

Regardless what is decided, the EPA notice against San Francisco could be the first of many measures President Trump may decide to take against cities that he sees as not doing enough about the homeless crisis. Opponents worry that there may be similar retaliatory measures taken by the President against places that have disliked his administration. 

Evan Symon

Evan V. Symon is the Senior Editor for the California Globe. Prior to the Globe, he reported for the Pasadena Independent, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and was head of the Personal Experiences section at Cracked. He can be reached at evan@californiaglobe.com.
Evan Symon
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