Senate Public Safety Committee rejects bipartisan solution to clearing inhumane homeless encampments cowritten by Brian and Megan Dahle

The Senate Public Safety Committee recently  voted down Senate Bill 1011, a bipartisan measure to compassionately clear homeless encampments by Senate Minority Leader Brian Jones and Senator Catherine Blakespear.

Click here for more information on the bill, here for the fact sheet, and here for the video of the hearing.

State Senator Brian W.Jones.

“California’s homelessness crisis is dangerous, inhumane and unacceptable,” said Jones. “Our bipartisan SB 1011 would have provided a compassionate solution for clearing homeless encampments, ensuring both the safety of our community and the dignity of homeless individuals. This is not a partisan issue, which is why we have Democrats, Republicans, homeless advocates, and mental health experts in support of this bill.

“I’m disappointed in the closed-minded opposition from the majority party members of the Senate Public Safety Committee to new approaches and their knee-jerk support of just throwing more money at the problem with no real plan. Today’s continued rejection of real solutions during this health and safety crisis is immoral and irresponsible,” continued Jones.

District 1 State Senator Brian Dahle.

SB 1011 has strong support from a variety of stakeholders including Democrats, Republicans, homeless advocates, and mental health experts.

Specifically, SB 1011 prohibits homeless encampments near the sensitive community areas of schools, open space and transit stops. The bill also prohibits camping on sidewalks and streets if shelter space is available. 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.

Megan Dahle.

Modeled after the City of San Diego’s successful “Unsafe Camping Ordinance,”  Jones’s bipartisan bill would have helped compassionately clear encampments and connect homeless individuals to services they desperately need.

The hearing featured testimonies from Dr. Drew PinskyVista Mayor John Franklin, and formerly homeless individual Brett Boman.

Earlier this year, a group of community leaders including  Jones, Republican and Democrat legislators, Escondido City Councilman Joe Garcia, social media influencer Ricci Wynne, and homeless advocate Brett Boman held a press conference to announce the bipartisan SB 1011. A video recording of the press conference can be found here and pictures can be found here.

The bipartisan SB 1011 has 18 bipartisan coauthors including principal coauthor Senator Catherine Blakespear, Senate coauthors Marie Alvarado-Gil, Bill Dodd, Shannon Grove, Brian Dahle, Roger Niello, Janet Nguyen, Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh, Kelly Seyarto, Scott Wilk, and Assembly coauthors James Gallagher, Megan Dahle, Heath Flora, Juan Alanis, Joe Patterson, Bill Essayli, Kate Sanchez, and Laurie Davis.

SB 1011 was stalled in the Senate Public Safety Committee on a 1-3 vote with Senator Kelly Seyarto voting in favor of the measure, Senators Wahab, Skinner, and Wiener. opposing the measure, and Senator Bradford abstaining from the measure.

SB 1011 was granted reconsideration and is eligible to be voted on again in committee before the April 26, 2024 deadline. The measure is similar to Jones’s bipartisan SB 31 from last year. Almost 2,000 Californians have signed the petition to support SB 1011. For more information about SB 1011 and Jones’s efforts to compassionately clear encampments, click here.

What they’re saying about SB 1011
“California’s homeless crisis is truly out of control. The state is allowing people to die on the streets on a daily basis. The situation is not sustainable and Senator Jones’s bipartisan bill, Senate Bill 1011 will help. I strongly support his efforts to compassionately clear encampments and connect people with desperately needed medical and mental health services and shelters. It is morally and bioethically wrong to leave people to die on our streets of a progressive illness…This is a social experiment that has failed and it is time to wrap it up.” – Dr. Drew Pinsky (Internist and Addictionologist).

“I am disappointed that this bipartisan legislation, which is modeled on a program that is working well in the City of San Diego, is not moving forward this year. We need to do better on homelessness, and the current state of affairs – the lack of housing, the homelessness encampments in public spaces in our cities – is not acceptable. I am committed to working with fellow legislators and advocates to take immediate steps to address this crisis.” – Senator Catherine Blakespear.

“Addressing the widespread issue of homelessness is a shared responsibility to ensure our most vulnerable populations receive the proper care, resources, and shelter to begin rebuilding their lives. While we must work together to safeguard our children and families by providing a clear path to our sidewalks, schools, and public spaces, it is imperative we guarantee dignity, respect, and support to those facing homelessness. I stand behind Senator Jones’ initiative to prioritize compassion and equitable treatment for all members of our community.” – Senator Marie Alvarado-Gil.

“Solving the homelessness crisis is not a partisan issue and I’m happy to join with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to connect homeless people with services and get them shelter” – Senator Bill Dodd.

“By compassionately clearing encampments, we aim to ensure that families can go about their daily lives without having to worry about the dangers posed by unhoused individuals suffering from behavioral health and opioid addiction issues, trash, and drug paraphernalia. Our goal is to strike a balance between accountability and compassion. We want to ensure everyone’s needs are met and everyone feels safe in their community, and we believe that we can achieve this by working together.” – Senator Rosilicie Ochoa Bogh.

“Drive down the streets – walk down the road – my story is not alone, nor unique, and California needs to step up to tackle this issue. I am standing with Senator Jones again this year as we address this issue with an improved bill. This is not a Republican or Democrat issue, but a California issue. If you care about what is happening in California, I urge all members of the California State Legislature to join Senator Jones and those lawmakers who support his efforts.” – Brett Boman, formerly homeless individual.