Senate Minority Leader Jones leads effort to compassionately clear encampments

SB 31 Press Conference - Compassionately Clear Encampments

A group of community leaders including Senate Minority Leader Brian W. Jones (R-San Diego), former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Senate Minority Caucus Chair Janet Nguyen (R-Huntington Beach), Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh (R-Yucaipa), Senator Kelly Seyarto (R-Murrieta), and homeless advocate Brett Boman today held a press conference to promote Leader Jones’s bipartisan Senate Bill 31, which aims to compassionately clear homeless encampments. A video recording of the press conference can be found here.

SB 31 prohibits homeless encampments near the sensitive community areas of schools, daycare centers, parks, and libraries. Additionally, the bill requires enforcement officers to give a 72-hour notice before an encampment sweep, and requires enforcement officers to provide information about sleeping alternatives, homeless and mental health services, and homeless shelters. Over 2,000 Californians have signed the petition in support of SB 31.

California has 30% of the nation’s homeless population, yet only makes up less than 12% of the U.S. total population. Sadly, California’s homelessness crisis has become a public health and safety crisis. Modeled after a recent measure passed by the City of Los Angeles, Leader Jones’s bipartisan bill will help compassionately clear encampments and help connect homeless individuals to services they desperately need. SB 31 specifically protects sensitive community areas closest to our most vulnerable population—our children who go to schools and daycare centers, play in parks, and read books at libraries.

“California has spent $20 billion over the past 5 years on homelessness and what do we have to show for it? Encampments line nearly every block. Children are being exposed to open drug use and dangerous situations. Our current approach to homelessness is clearly failing and Californians are tired of it,” said Leader Jones. “Our bipartisan measure would compassionately clear encampments near sensitive areas to protect our kids. It’s a shame that the Democrat-led Senate Public Safety Committee doesn’t understand the necessity to protect our most vulnerable population. The bill was granted reconsideration and we will continue pushing to pass this commonsense measure.”

SB 31 was stalled in the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 1-1 party-line vote with Senator Ochoa Bogh voting in favor of the measure while Senator Aisha Wahab (D-Hayward) opposed the measure. Senators Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), and Scott Weiner (D-San Francisco) did not vote.  SB 31 was granted “reconsideration,” so it can be brought up again for a second vote before April 28th.

What they’re saying about SB 31

“A street should not be a home. Period. It’s commonsense and this bill will turn commonsense into California law. We cannot allow homeless encampments to overwhelm the cornerstones of our community, like parks, schools, and libraries. Homelessness is soaring in California, including in our hometown of San Diego. Senator Jones’s bill compliments the efforts I took as Mayor of San Diego.” – Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer

“My time on the street has given me some insight into the lives of many homeless and the reasons why they are homeless vary. I support Senator Jones’s measure as it provides hope for many who find themselves at times feeling “hopeless” in their situation. We need to ensure our sensitive areas in communities such as parks or daycare centers are not inhibited by encampments, but also that those who need it get access to the services they desperately need. SB 31 balances both of those approaches and our legislators should support this measure.” – Brett Boman, Homeless Advocate

“I want to commend Senator Jones for his leadership in addressing homelessness. It’s simply inhumane to allow people to live on the street. As a society – we can do better. Some may say it’s inhumane to force people off the streets and into treatment, but I think it’s more inhumane to keep people on the streets. I look forward to supporting Senator Jones and bringing these efforts to North County.” – Supervisor Jim Desmond

“El Cajon and the greater San Diego region continue to face challenges in addressing homelessness. As law enforcement, we are focused on protecting the public, but oftentimes, our hands are tied due to legal constraints. It’s time we take a different approach. I believe Senator Jones’s proposed legislation will give law enforcement more tools to help compassionately clear encampments and protect our communities’ most sensitive areas.” – El Cajon Police Department Chief Mike Moulton

“We see this bill as a bridge from a life surviving in chaos to a bridge over to a solution.  We can work for a solution for change.” – Michael Branch, CEO of East County Transitional Living Center

“Alpha Project strives not to manage homelessness, but rather to end it for its clients by offering jobs not handouts, respect not pity and empowerment not control. We believe Senator Brian Jones’s proposed legislation will help us carry out our organization’s mission by finding the appropriate balance between accountability and compassion as we lift individuals out of homelessness.” – Bob McElroy, Alpha Project CEO, a local non-profit