The anti-street camping ordinance targeting homeless encampments has now gone into effect in the city of San Diego.
Five officers spent Monday morning contacting homeless campers in Balboa Park warning them they are breaking the rules, offering assistance and then ultimately removing their camps. Several people were detained because of prior warrants; others were simply warned.
“It’s not acceptable to be out here living on the streets. It’s not safe, it’s not safe for the individual and it’s not safe for the community,” said Capt. Shawn Takeuchi with San Diego Police Department.
The ordinance prioritizes ending encampments in parks and near schools first.
Homeless advocates say the new action is the talk of the homeless community, which is wondering where to go next.
“The ordinance is from downtown all the way over to Old Town and now people are heading to the beaches,” said Mama Heather, a homeless advocate.
The ordinance says urban camping is simply against the law.
An unsheltered camper will be offered services three times and if they do not accept help or get off the streets on the third contact they could be arrested.
Homeless folks say it’s drug rehab that is desperately needed.
“This for homeless people and drug addicts is like Disneyland … I fell in love with it, who wants to live indoors … but later it becomes a party you can’t get out of,” said David Kolloo, a former homeless man.