Sat, May 11 2013 12:00 PM Posted By: Robert Moreno
National City’s City Council Tuesday night authorized the city manager to send a letter to Sacramento opposing Assembly Bill 5.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) drafted and proposed The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act to create a statewide framework in giving new protections and more civil rights to homeless people.
City Manager Leslie Deese said she and the City Council oppose the bill because the city is not properly equipped for the demands of the bill and, she said, the proposed piece of legislation does not solve homelessness.
“This legislation does not address the core roots of homelessness, which is to get help and provide services,” Deese said. “It doesn’t find solutions.”
The bill will require cities to have their public restrooms open 24 hours a day for seven days a week as well as provide public showers.
Deese said the city’s bathrooms are not made for bathing, just to wash hands.
She also said that National City does not have the staff, money and resources to meet this requirement.
National City Mayor Ron Morrison said the title of the bill is misleading.
“Even though it is called the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights, it is basically giving special rights that no one else would have,” he said. “The bill is hiding behind its title, it sounds very nice. Who wouldn’t want homeless people to be treated fairly?”
The proposed legislation also will allow the homeless to camp their vehicles legally on public property to sleep, which Morrison said would cause a security issue.
He also said the word public property is broad and could mean homeless people camping outside on the public part of the curb of a resident’s home.
National City, Deese said, cannot adhere to the bill without state funding.
“The state has not provided funding to cities to carry out this bill, if legislation passes,” Deese said.
According to a recent one-day survey conducted by the Regional Task Force on the Homeless, there are 157 homeless people in National City, up from 143 in 2012. National City’s homeless population represents 1.8 percent of the homeless population in the county.
Deese said since Petco Park was built the homeless in downtown San Diego are being flushed out and staying in National City and neighboring areas.
Morrison said the majority of homeless people in National City are not from National City.
Both Deese and Morrison said the city has numerous programs that help the homeless. The city has shelters, Morrison said, they also help churches and local organizations with food and clothing drives.
Morrison said he would like to see a bill designed specifically to help homelessness.
“It’s become the accepted way of living instead of doing something about it,” Morrison said.
The South Bay Community Service Center, a local organization that does homeless outreach, said they were unaware of the bill and couldn’t comment.
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