San Diego Police Cracking Down on Tents on the Street During the Day

SDPD said the move is an enforcement of an existing municipal code.

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The San Diego Police Department announced it will be asking homeless people living on the streets to deconstruct their tents during the day. This comes after the county declared homelessness a public health crisis last week.

San Diego Police said this follows the city’s municipal code for encroachment that states:

“It is unlawful for any person to erect, place, allow to remain, construct, establish, plant, or maintain any vegetation or object on any public street, alley, sidewalk, highway, or other public property or public right of way, except as otherwise provided by this Code.”

Downtown San Diego’s East Village is just one area where hundreds of people have resorted to seeking shelter as homelessness remains a crisis in the county. It’s a cause Michael McConnell has been advocating for, for more than a decade.

“Well it kind of feels like Groundhog Day,” McConnell said. “I’ve heard this so many times.”

This isn’t the first time the police have taken a similar approach. In a statement emailed to NBC 7 Monday, the department said this effort was also enforced during the 2017 Hepatitis A outbreak. Police hope this crackdown will encourage people to take advantage of services and accept shelter.

That’s exactly what McConnell said there just isn’t enough of.

”It’s actually about creating space, creating homes and shelter space, whether it’s safe campsites, whether it’s hotels for senior citizens who need their own space, more shelter beds, whatever it is," McConnell said. “If you don’t want somebody on the sidewalk, you have to have a good option.”

More options are on the way. On Monday, Mayor Todd Gloria announced on his Twitter the groundbreaking of his Bridge to Home program in San Ysidro. It will bring 100 homes for seniors, 25 of which he says will be for homeless seniors.

Others have been more vocal about the homeless crisis recently. Nearly one week ago, former NBA star Bill Walton publicly blamed Mayor Gloria during a forum for the city’s growing homeless population. The mayor’s office responded by saying the mayor has made the issue a priority through outreach programs, affordable housing and increased law enforcement.

A portion of the statement from San Diego police sent to NBC 7 included the following response in connection to asking homeless individuals to deconstruct their tents:

“This action is an extension of the Mayor’s direction in early June to step up enforcement of laws against blocking the sidewalk. Homelessness is a fluid situation, and we’re always evaluating our directives based on changing dynamics. It’s not appropriate for people to live on the sidewalks, especially as the City is increasing shelter opportunities.”

In addition to that statement, police said the goal of this is ensure no health and safety hazards can accumulate over time.

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