“Criminalizing Homelessness”

This past Tuesday Council considered an ordinance to prohibit tents on the beach, I have received several calls and emails about a quote that was referenced in many news outlets and I wanted to take a moment and provide some context of the quote as well as expound on my position on the ordinance that was brought before Council.

Council was requested to vote on an ordinance that would prohibit tents on our city beaches and violators could be charged with a Misdemeanor 2 and up to a $1,000 fine. Council was never briefed that this issue would be coming before us nor did we have any discussion there that there was a problem in need of immediate remedy at any of our beaches.

I can understand the concerns of visitors and residents who may experience a less than an ideal encounter with someone who is experiencing homelessness and can agree that allowing anyone to sleep on the beach could poses a threat to their safety and well-being. The city currently prohibits sleeping on the beach and this ordinance would only put a criminal record (and a hefty fine) on some of our most vulnerable populations. The homeless do not belong in our jails.

I am not opposed to solving the problem, but I was opposed to solving it the way that was presented to us on Tuesday. I look forward to the future conversations with my colleagues and I appreciate the dialogue I have had with many residents so far and encourage further dialogue on this topic.

You can view my full remarks below:

One thought on ““Criminalizing Homelessness”

  1. Hi Jessica,
    You stated that “Council was never briefed that this issue would be coming before us nor did we have any discussion there that there was a problem in need of immediate remedy at any of our beaches.”
    My question is who decides what “comes before you” and when prior to the informal or public meetings? Who writes up the agenda? There is no input from council members? I would think that council would agree as a body on what ordinances or items would discussed prior to being put on the council agenda so no one is blindsided in public.
    That makes no sense to me at all.

    Like

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