El Cajon bans feeding of homeless people in city parks
EL CAJON (KUSI) — A small taste of Halloween showed up at Wells Park in El Cajon. A woman who lives in the city drove up with a Halloween cake, with hopes of giving it to some of the homeless men and women who gather at the municipal park.
However, under a new ordinance passed by the City of El Cajon last week, it is against the law to share or distribute food in parks and other public spaces.
The "urgency ordinance" was enacted to minimize the risk of spreading the highly contagious Hepatitis A virus through handling food given to the homeless. There are some exceptions to the rule. Events such as birthday parties, sports team celebrations and wedding anniversaries are exempted from the ordinance.
While city leaders don’t want food to be passed around and shared, the city is also taking a dim view of handouts.
Earlier this month, the city launched an anti-panhandling campaign. Street signs discouraging people from handing out cash and small change have appeared throughout El Cajon. Mayor Bill Wells said if people really want to relieve the hardships of those who live on the street, it’s better to support shelters and programs for the homeless.
The ordinance against food sharing is only a temporary measure. In the meantime, city staff is working with churches and community groups to come up with a long-term plan that will allow the distribution of food to the homeless and needy.