Only a former member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors would come up with a bill called “Homeless Bill of Rights and Fairness Act.”
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Key among the rights Assembly Bill 5 would give the homeless are “The right to engage in life sustaining activities that must be carried out in public spaces because of homelessness, including, but not limited to, eating, congregating, possessing and storing personal property, urinating, or collecting and possessing goods for recycling, even if those goods contain alcoholic residue, without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions, harassment, or arrest by law enforcement, public or private security personnel, or BID (Business Improvement District) agents.”
It would amend the Unruh Civil Rights Act to include “housing status,” or more correctly a lack of such status to be a protected civil right.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, proposes to freeze in place the status of the masses of homeless in San Francisco. Urinating in doorways of businesses, defecating wherever, seems OK to the assemblyman, along with whole groups of homeless sleeping and congregating on the street, blocking sidewalks from near Van Ness Avenue to Market Street.
San Francisco voters approved a no-sitting, no-lying ordinance, which the police largely ignore except in the Haight Ashbury, where the merchants have complained the loudest about aggressive homeless panhandlers blocking their doors and harassing customers.
Ammiano, who couldn’t seem to solve the homeless situation in San Francisco, now wants to inflict his San Francisco radical do-nothing plan on the rest of the state. He’s just giving us the bums’ rush.
There has always been a homeless population in big cities like San Francisco and Sacramento. Every community has to work out its own solutions. Placerville, for the time being, has done better than most by setting up a private, self-policed and well-organized tent camp on private property with hygienic facilities. Ultimately another location may need to be found, but this has eliminated camping in a public park or private doorways, as advocated by Assemblyman Ammiano.
Sacramento is still struggling to find a solution for its homeless population other than ruining the American River Parkway. San Francisco hasn’t come up with a solution and every decade its population grows bigger until it seems at times to outnumber the tourists. All it generates is more aggressive homeless advocates — something Ammiano wrapped into his “Homeless Bill of Rights.”
Keep this issue out of state law. Let local communities arrive at their own solutions. Ten percent or less are involuntarily homeless by virtue of economic misfortune. The rest have chosen it as a lifestyle or are afflicted with mental issues.
In El Dorado County there are many men and women of good faith who are doing their best to feed, clothe and aid the many varieties of homeless. The homeless population here is a more manageable size. San Francisco is faced with such a larger and more challenging homeless population. It will never solve its homeless problem as long as it expends more energy giving the homeless more rights than property owners.