The homeless create temporary shelters in downtown San Diego.
Makeshift tents on a street in downtown San Diego. Photo by Chris Stone

Mayor Todd Gloria called Wednesday for the City Council to pass an ordinance restricting homeless encampments throughout San Diego if sufficient shelter beds are available.

Gloria has pushed hard for the ordinance — written by City Councilman Stephen Whitburn — in recent weeks, urging citizens to sign a petition and speaking on the issue at news conferences.

He appeared with City Councilmember Joe LaCava at Fire Station 35 in University City to speak to the press about the ordinance.

The proposed change to the city code would prohibit tent encampments in all public spaces throughout the city if shelter beds are available and would ban tent encampments at all times in certain sensitive areas — parks, canyons and near schools, transit stations and homeless shelters — regardless of shelter capacity.

“Encampments pose an immediate threat to public health and safety, for both the people living in them and people living, working or going to school around them,” Gloria said. “Those living in encampments are in constant danger of disease spread amid unsanitary conditions, violence and exploitation by dealers of deadly drugs.”

“Encampments also frequently ignite fires that put the public and our first responders at great risk. The City Council must pass the Unsafe Camping Ordinance to protect the health and safety of all San Diegans,” he said.

The Mayor has proposed a number of safe camping sites on city property outside of the downtown area, including a large maintenance yard at 20th and B streets.

The council is set to vote on the ordinance June 13.

City News Service contributed to this article.

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.