California lawmaker calls on state to ban homeless encampments near schools and parks

California Assemblyman Josh Hoover (R-Folsom) is calling on state lawmakers to ban homeless encampments within 500 feet of schools, day care centers, parks and libraries.

While some cities have been implementing such rules locally in recent years, Assembly Bill 257 would make the ban statewide.

Hoover introduced the bill on January 23, saying in a statement that it will help ensure that students are safe and not in danger while walking to school.

“As our local communities work on housing and mental health solutions for the homeless, it is critical that the Legislature act to ensure our most sensitive public spaces remain safe,” he said in a statement issued the same day. “No parent should be afraid to let his children walk to school or worry about finding needles in the park where his children play, but that is the current experience of far too many families across our state. This legislation would change that.”

Photo of the time
A tent stands on a sidewalk in Sacramento, Calif., on April 18, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

If passed and signed into law, the bill would prohibit a person from “sitting, lying down, sleeping, or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property on any street, sidewalk, or other public property within 500 feet of a school.” , nursery center, park or library.”

Violations would result in a misdemeanor or infraction.

The proposal comes on the heels of a federal homelessness report (pdf) released last month that revealed California’s homeless population increased 6.2 percent from 2020 to 2022, a greater increase than any other state. .

Additionally, the report says that California accounts for 30 percent of the nation’s homeless population, despite having only about 12 percent of the total US population.

The Los Angeles City Council passed its own ban last August despite opposition from activists.

Photo of the time
Volunteers look at a neighborhood map as they walk the streets of downtown Los Angeles during the third night of the Greater Los Angeles Homeless Count in Los Angeles on Feb. 24, 2022. (Frederic J. Brown/AFP via from Getty Images)

Los Angeles experienced an approximately 33 percent increase in its homeless population from 2018 to 2022, from 31,285 to 41,980, according to its 2022 Point-In-Time Homeless Count.

The Sacramento City Council also passed a similar ban on Oct. 18, after homelessness in the county increased 67% from pre-pandemic numbers: from 5,561 in 2019 to 9,278 in 2022, according to its point count plus recent (pdf) .

Hoover also plans to propose an audit of statewide homelessness spending to “provide more accountability and determine which programs are effective in reducing homelessness,” according to his statement.