AB 5 (Ammiano; D-San Francisco) the bill that would enact the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act, which would specifically restrict local law enforcement, local governments, and business improvement districts, from enforcing local ordinances that regulate activities such as sitting, laying, and/or soliciting, passed its first policy committee this week.

At the Assembly Judiciary Hearing this week, just prior to the bill being presented, the author promised to re-write the bill in a way that he said would take care of many of the issues moved forward by opposition groups such as the CBPA, CDA, CalChamber, League of Cities, and many many individual Business Improvement Districts throughout the state.  The bill was voted on based on a “mock-up” provided to committee members, and passed on a 7-3 vote (all Democrats voting “aye” / all Republicans voting “no”).

Although we recognize the interconnectedness of safe, decent, and permanent housing when addressing other needs of California’s homeless population, such as mental health or substance abuse treatment, and unemployment, we think that any proposed laws must strike a balance between promoting health and safety for all residents and respecting the local designation of resources.  Unfortunately, AB 5 would create costly mandates, blur the line between local jurisdiction authority, and undermine the local decision making process. We are opposing the bill – however, we have been very successful in paring some of the more onerous provisions of the bill back and remain hopeful that we can continue to work with the author to address remaining issues.

We’d like to acknowledge and thank California Downtown Association (CDA) for its leadership and activity on this bill.  Aside from creating a resource web page on the bill, they have been actively meeting with legislators, and had several professionals at the hearing.

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