Assembly Republicans take aim at Newsom over homelessness

California has spent $20 billion to fight the homelessness crisis with little to show for it. Assembly Republicans want to see anti-camping ordinances back in action.

Thursday, California’s entire Assembly Republican caucus signed sent a letter to Gov. Gavin Newsom urging him to push the Supreme Court to overturn a court case that prohibits cities from enforcing anti-camping ordinances under certain circumstances. 

The lawmakers also laid out a blueprint for the governor to tackle the state’s homelessness crisis in addition to petitioning the Supreme Court. 


The backstory: Five years ago the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled against the City of Boise in Martin v. Boise, ruling that cities cannot enforce anti-camping ordinances if they do not have enough homeless shelter beds to meet the demand. 

  • Recently the City of Grants Pass in Oregon petitioned the Supreme Court to take on its own case, City of Grants Pass v. Johnson. Last year the Ninth Circuit court ruled against the city, ordering the city to stop banning homeless people from sleeping on public property. 

The big picture: Assembly Republicans urged Newsom to formally petition the Supreme Court to hear City of Grants Pass v. Johnson, which would review the Martin v. Boise case and potentially allow California cities to enforce camping bans. 

  • Outside of legal means, the caucus asked Newsom to stop legislative measures such as Assembly Constitutional Amendment 13, which, in part, would make it harder for people to pass initiatives seeking to enforce Proposition 13 and keep property tax rates low. 
  • The caucus also urged Newsom to “stop enabling” the homelessness crisis by reevaluating the housing first and harm reduction strategies. Assembly Republicans also asked for stronger penalties for fentanyl dealers and criminals victimizing Californians and to ensure mental health and substance abuse treatment services have the resources they need. 

What they’re saying: “We acknowledge that homelessness is a complex and multifaceted issue, but addressing this crisis requires accountability for the policies and decisions made at the state level, instead of shifting blame elsewhere,” the letter reads. “California has more than half of the country’s unsheltered homeless population despite spending more than $20 billion in taxpayer money. It’s time for a change.” 

  • Assembly Leader James Gallagher (R–Yuba City) said Newsom is great at two things: talking and spending money. 
  • “Unfortunately, neither of those have put a dent in California’s homelessness crisis,” Gallagher said. “Rather than just whining, Newsom needs to get the cost of living under control and fight back against activist judges and their out of touch rulings that perpetuate homelessness.”
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