Police increasing enforcement of homeless camps along San Diego River
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The San Diego Police Department is stepping up enforcement on the homeless. But the crackdown may be behind the growing number of people living alongside the San Diego River.
According to the San Diego River Park Foundation, there are 101 encampments alongside the river, or about 250 people. That is nearly double the number from last year. Homeless and river resident Louie Riccardi told KUSI that’s because of the city’s crackdown, on homelessness in Downtown San Diego, directed by Mayor Kevin Faulconer and City Council, in part due to the spread of Hepatitis A.
The homeless can be penalized for staying in tents and blocking sidewalks. But police have to give them 72-hours notice.Many times the transients will just move their tents and belongings to different areas and police play a game of whack-a-mole. If they do kick someone out of a dwelling, the officers must first have a bed to offer them.
Even so, police arrested 270 people in September, compared to just 84 people last September. That’s an 83 percent spike in prosecutions.
A ticket hovers around $900, and not paying will land a person in jail for three days, their belongings usually tossed.
So now the crackdown has created a new task for the city, cleaning up the river. Council members are aware of growing issue, but Father Joe’s Villages CEO Jim Vargas said citing and arresting the people who call the San Diego River home is not a long-term solution.
With or without penalty, these people have no home. Vargas recommends creating affordable housing and job placement.
If you’d like to help Louie Riccardi from a job, visit his GoFundMe page.