San Diego police arrest people for encroachment to prevent Hepatitis A

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — San Diego County is in the midst of a public health crisis because of the spread of Hepatitis A  and as the City of San Diego continues its campaign to sanitize downtown streets, the City is also taking stronger steps to ensure that the streets remain clean.

We went to 17th street in the East Village and talked with a former New Yorker, named Tony. He showed us his possessions — a bicycle, two folding chairs and a cart neatly packed with blankets and clothing.

He told us some of his friends have been arrested in the last week, for violating a city ordinance that prohibits "encroachment.

Tony said if he doesn’t move his things from the street, he faces the risk of arrest. When we asked him where he was going to sleep later tonight, he told us he would stay on the street in a tent.

Police have always had the authority to ticket and arrest people for encroachment. According to the San Diego Police Department, arresting people is only a last resort.

Lieutenant Scott Wahl says people on the street are first given options to find a shelter or other services.  If they refuse to take their belongings and leave, they can then be arrested for encroachment, which is a misdemeanor.

Jia Lawton who lives under a freeway bridge says some of her friends were recently arrested and put in jail. Some of them are elderly and others have physical or mental limitations.

Lawton said one man was arrested and released from jail recently, without his wheelchair.

The Police Department said since the intensive street cleaning began a few weeks ago, arrests for encroachment have increased, from an average of 30 arrests a week, before the cleanup, to 50 arrests a week, in the last two weeks.

The Mayor’s spokesperson said that Mayor Kevin Faulconer may create a so-called camp zone, to help people who are displaced by city’s efforts to sanitize the streets.

More details on the plan could be released next week.

Related Link: MTS trolleys and buses being sanitized to prevent spread of Hepatitis A

Categories: Local San Diego News