Bipartisan proposal would ban homeless encampments on California’s sidewalks

Cities would be allowed to sweep homeless encampments off the streets as long as they have homeless shelters available.

A bipartisan coalition of California lawmakers are looking to “compassionately” clear homeless encampments off the streets. 

Republican Senate Leader Brian Jones (R–Santee) introduced Senate Bill 1011 to the Legislature to outlaw encampments in certain areas. 


The big picture: SB 1011 would prohibit encampments on sidewalks only if a homeless shelter is available. 

  • All encampments within 500 feet of a sensitive community would be prohibited. That includes areas such as schools, open spaces and transit stops. 
  • The bill would require a 72-hour warning warning before an encampment sweep to give homeless individuals an opportunity to find an alternative. 
  • Enforcement officers would also be required to provide information to the homeless about shelters and mental health services. 

The backstory: SB 1011 is modeled after San Diego’s Unsafe Camping Ordinance. 

  • San Diego passed the ordinance last summer to ban camps near certain areas such as parks and schools. 
  • By last October, San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria praised the ordinance for being “extremely successful.” 

Bipartisan support: Sen. Catherine Blakespear (D–Encinitas) is the principal coauthor of SB 1011. 

  • Sen. Marie Alvarado-Gil (D–Jackson) and Sen. Bill Dodd (D–Napa) were the other two Democrats to sign on as coauthors and are joined by 15 Republicans. 
  • Coauthors from the Central Valley are Sen. Shannon Grove (R–Bakersfield), Asm. Heath Flora (R–Lodi) and Asm. Juan Alanis (R–Modesto). 

What they’re saying: Jones said in a statement that Californians should not have to tolerate the encampments that now fill the state’s open spaces with trash, needles and human waste. 

  • He added that clearing encampments is clearly possible when there is a political will to do so, pointing to San Francisco during the APEC conference. 
  • “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,” Jones said. “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.” 
  • Blakespear added, “Public spaces are not living spaces. 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.” 
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