SUPPORT THIS INDEPENDENT JOURNALISM
The article you’re about to read is from our reporters doing their important work — investigating, researching, and writing their stories. We want to provide informative and inspirational stories that connect you to the people, issues and opportunities within our community. Journalism requires lots of resources. Today, our business model has been interrupted by the pandemic; the vast majority of our advertisers’ businesses have been impacted. That’s why the SC Times is now turning to you for financial support. Learn more about our new Insider’s program here. Thank you.
By Eric Heinz
Details about enforcing nuisance and code compliance infractions caused by homeless people were presented at the Tuesday, Feb. 21, City Council meeting.
San Clemente Chief of Police David Moodie and Joe Bull, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department community liaison for the city, attributed the rise in the populations, in the city and county, to various sources. The biggest reason, Moodie said, is likely from the effects of Prop 47, which makes narcotics possession and other “lesser” crimes punishable by citation only.
Moodie said the department receives calls regarding homeless people trespassing or disturbing businesses constantly, but there isn’t always something they can do.
The city’s most recent trespassing laws gives business owners the ability to have people who are causing problems removed and cited, but only if the owners are willing to press charges to have the person prosecuted, which Bull said can deter people sometimes out of either compassion for the offender’s situation or fear of retaliation.
Room at shelters is also meager, Bull said, and sometimes it can be difficult to get some homeless people to go to them.
San Clemente is estimated to have more than 70 people who are chronically homeless—people who are seen on the streets in a particular area for more than four weeks at a time.
Moodie said calls to the city’s Police Services Department are up 15 percent from 2015 to 2016, with many of them related to homelessness or other nuisances.
When asked about certain known locations of homeless people, such as convenient stores, Bull said Police Services keeps in contact with the owners of the locations but can’t situate a deputy at those places at all times. The officers are continuing to work with Family Assistance Ministries, the nonprofit 211 and the city’s Targeting Reduction Investigation Prevention (TRIP) program, which helps locate and enforce infractions.