Anti Homeless Laws To Take Effect Soon
The city of Santa Monica is attempting to pass the single biggest anti-homeless law in the nation, which has infuriated civil rights activists and some students at SMC.
If passed, the collection of city laws will make it illegal for any homeless person to set down a back pack for more than ten minutes on any sidewalk, a person will not be allowed to lie or sit on any sidewalk in the city as well. It will be forbidden to shave, bathe, wash ones clothing or otherwise utilize any public restroom. Sleeping in a vehicle will also be prohibited.
The Santa Monica city council is also proposing that anyone who is found intoxicated by the Santa Monica Police will be relocated to what they call a "sobering center" in Culver City. Santa Monica is considered one of the top 20 "meanest cities" towards the homeless by the National Coalition for the homeless. Local activist David Busch, who volunteers with the Los Angeles Coalition to end hunger, believes the city is being very unfair and discriminatory.
"This is clearly a long planned out effort to now lead America and make Santa Monica first in pushing draconian new anti-homeless measures. If these laws pass in Santa Monica what will it mean for the rest of L.A.?" Busch said. He is imploring L.A. residents and others nationwide to "stop this new push in Santa Monica now."
Current laws in the city make it a crime to hand out food to a homeless person without getting permission first.
How will this affect students here at SMC? It is impossible to determine how many students are currently homeless without conducting a school census. Statistics state that one in 20 L.A. residents has faced homelessness in the last five years. Presently, there are 1,000 transients living in Santa Monica. Homelessness applies to living in cars and motels and shelters.
"This really sucks," says Joanne Sullivan, an SMC student. "Santa Monica has a reputation for being a liberal city; this sounds like fascism."
Although not homeless, Sullivan mingles with some of the city's indigent residents and feels empathetic towards them. "I feel guilty for having an IPod and living near the beach in a nice house. The people I have talked to on the street or at the board walk were friendly and seemed sane. I think they just had a stroke of bad luck."
Her sentiments, though, are not shared by everyone here in Santa Monica. "Most of them are drug addicts or crazy," said Joe Cooper, also a student, who says he had "bad experiences" with some of the local homeless.
"I don't mean to sound insensitive but the ones I have seen are usually loaded and begging for money to buy drugs. One time a guy tried to assault me when I declined to help pay for his habit. Luckily for me he was too messed up to try to punch properly," Cooper said.
Other students are concerned about how these laws will affect them even if they are not homeless.
"Are you telling me that if I want to nap in my car between classes I am breaking a law and could be arrested?" Jennifer [Last Name?], a sociology major said. "That is preposterous."
When told about the proposal to ban people from laying down items on the sidewalk, Jennifer said, "This will definitely affect students. What happens when some students lay their backpacks on the ground to wait for the bus? Will the police arrest them? I am really disappointed with Santa Monica; this place is becoming more like a city in Orange County every day."