Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights
One bill causing quite a stir right out of the gate is Assembly member Tom Ammiano’s (D-San Francisco) AB 5 – the “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act.”
This sweeping law proposes to amend multiple areas of the civil and government codes to create a new protected class of individuals and confer them a wide variety of “rights,” including the right to access and occupy virtually any public space in the state, including sidewalks, parks, bus stops and plazas in our Downtowns, shopping center common areas, and even foyers of office buildings.
The bill specifically prohibits property owners and managers, business owners, BID agents, and security contractors from “restricting homeless individuals from moving freely in public spaces,” and would prevent “unreasonable searches and seizures” of personal property including removal of tents and searching of bags if the action is based on the “perceived housing status” of the individual.
As the Sacramento Bee editorialized, this bill would create a “nightmare scenario” wherein businesses are powerless to remove homeless individuals from impeding their daily activities. Here is the Bee editorial, “Ammiano bill on homeless is an embarrassment (01/05/2013).”
We are already working with a coalition of business groups, property owners, small business advocates, and local government groups to explain how this bill will negatively impact public spaces in the state. Although it is extremely early in the process and the bill has not been assigned to committee, grassroots contacts are already underway to leadership offices.
The L.A. Times has also weighed in, stating in its own editorial entitled “Homeless rights bill is wrong (01/11/13),” – “Ammiano’s bill is part of a heated debate that has been underway in cities for many years: how to balance the rights of homeless people who are down on their luck or mentally ill or drug addicted against the rights of residents and business owners to clean streets and safe, habitable neighborhoods.”
At this point we ask that all of our members be aware of this bill and take any opportunity you can to educate policymakers at the local and state levels about the difficulties we already face keeping our properties clean and safe.
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