San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer announced last week his goal of taking a ballot initiative to combat homelessness in California, directly to the voters. Faulconer is the only big-city California Mayor who has successfully reduced homelessness in his city using an “all-of-the-above” approach.
The “Rebuilding the California Dream” committee’s mission is to support state and local ballot measures in California to grow the economy, decrease homelessness, increase public safety, clean up public spaces and the environment. The committee will work to develop a statewide measure for the 2022 ballot.
“California has lost its way on homelessness, and it’s up to us to find our moral compass once again. I am building a coalition to craft a statewide initiative that brings solutions to our homeless crisis directly to California voters,” Faulconer said to California Globe. “It’s time to get real about these problems. It’s not acceptable to condone living outdoors in urban areas. It’s not humane to let people with severe mental illness wander our streets. It’s not responsible to turn a blind eye to drug abuse. It’s time to clean up the unsafe homeless encampments that symbolize California’s failure to act. To anyone who says it’s not compassionate to move a person off the street, I say it’s not compassionate to let a person die on it.”
In his State-of-the-City address last week, one of his strategies will be forming a new partnership with San Diego County to deploy mental health teams at the City’s four bridge shelters and expand residential services for severely addicted individuals, as well as a public-private partnership to open the first County bridge shelter to support the City and County’s mental health priorities.
“It’s time to get real about these problems, Mayor Faulconer said. “It’s not acceptable to condone living outdoors in urban areas. It’s not humane to let people with severe mental illness wander our streets. It’s not responsible to turn a blind eye to drug abuse. It’s time to clean up the unsafe homeless encampments that symbolize California’s failure to act. To anyone who says it’s not compassionate to move a person off the street … I say it’s not compassionate to let a person die on it.”
San Diego has implemented the largest expansion of homeless services in City history with four new bridge shelters, the expansion of safe parking lots and storage centers, a new Housing Navigation Center and more. Those efforts resulted in San Diego being the only major county in California where homelessness went down last year.
Mayor Faulconer also noted the affect new state laws have had on significantly limiting the ability of local governments to address homeless individuals struggling with substance abuse. Those laws turned many serious drug offenses into misdemeanors, removing the ability judges had to give felony offenders the option for treatment over jail, Faulconer said.
“The so-called reforms succeeded in promoting crime by decriminalizing many crimes, and reclassifying violent crimes as ‘non-violent,’” California Globe reported. “Gov. Jerry Brown’s A.B. 109, ‘realigned’ California’s overcrowded prison system, shifting responsibility of repeat, newly classified ‘nonviolent’ offenders from state prisons to county jails. Those released were assigned county probation officers rather than state parole officers. Those newly ‘non-violent’ criminals let out of county jails due to overcrowding are living on the streets, living on our parkways, rivers, and canals, and using the streets as their toilets.”
Assembly Bill 109, Proposition 47, Proposition 57 decriminalized theft, drug crimes, sex crimes, and emptied out California prisons. Proposition 47 also reclassified shoplifting, grand theft, receiving stolen property, forgery, fraud, and writing bad checks as “non-serious, nonviolent crimes,” and any theft valued at $950 or less as a misdemeanor, even if committed every day.
Proposition 57, “The California Parole for Non-Violent Criminals and Juvenile Court Trial Requirements Initiative” allows criminals convicted of rape, lewd acts against a child, and human trafficking to be released early from prison. Prop. 57 allows career criminals to be treated as first offenders, and it overturned victims’ rights legislation like Marsy’s Law, “three strikes,” Victim’s Bill of Rights, and the Californians Against Sexual Exploitation Act.
Making dangerous cities even worse, in 2017 the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 180, entirely on a party-line vote, to limit the ability of law enforcement to send chronic drug abusers back to prison. Judges were already neutered by Prop. 47 in 2014, which removed their ability to sentence drug offenders to drug treatment programs, rather than prison.
California cities have even repealed anti-begging and loitering laws.
Mayor Faulconer said: “If you think someone who is addicted to drugs and sleeping in a canyon is going to turn their life around without an intervention, you’re not being honest. These laws are letting people slowly kill themselves right in front of our eyes. These are cries for help, and folks are not going to change without consequences for their actions. … That’s why I will be working in 2020 and beyond to make sure our state’s laws actually fulfill their intended purpose: to rehabilitate lives and keep neighborhoods safe.”