Our industry unfortunately must oppose SB 876 (Liu; La Candada Flitridge) as we believe the measure will make it more difficult to keep public areas safe and clean while not actually addressing the root causes of homelessness.

SB 876 would create a new right for any homeless person to “sleep or rest” in any “public space” broadly defined as “any property that is owned by a government entity or any property upon which there is an easement for public use and that is held open to the public, including, but not limited to, plazas, courtyards, parking lots, sidewalks, public transportation facilities and services, public buildings, shopping  centers, and parks.”

By declaring the right to sleep or rest on any property that has a public easement, SB 876 creates a special set of exemptions, privileges and rights for the homeless to occupy public and private property, including sidewalks, without complying with laws that apply to everyone else. Such an approach is inherently unfair and would erode the ability of property owners to operate their properties in safe, clean, and non-threatening manner.

Homelessness is a pervasive problem that must be dealt with.  However, we do not believe ceding possession of lawfully owned private property to anyone that deems it a suitable place to set up camp, is the right approach.

Last year, the Sacramento Bee referred to a similar attempt to create such rights as a “nightmare scenario” wherein businesses and their patrons would be powerless to remove homeless individuals from impeding their daily activities.

Homeless individuals – like every other Californian – already have the protections offered by the U.S. and state constitutions to protect their civil liberties.  This bill would create additional rights for a favored class of citizen at the expense of others’ private property rights and freedom of association.

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