The Riverside City Council created a new rule Sept. 13, banning public camping from streets, sidewalks and parks.
Camping in Riverside on public property can now lead to an arrest or a citation. A permit is now required for any public camping. City officials said this new rule applies to everyone, not just the homeless population.
Council member Jim Perry said the rule was intended to help keep the streets free and accessible.
“We aren’t going to do a street sweep of those on the street, but they are given three options before anyone is cited,” Perry said. “It depends on who you talk to about advocating for this new rule, such as homeless shelters and businesses that have different views about the rule.”
Two advisements are given out before a ticket. If there is no cooperation, an arrest may take place.
Darryl*, who has been homeless for 28 years, said the rule is unfair and unjust.
“I was there when they came and told us to leave,” Darryl said. “I used to stay by City Hall, and they took all the benches out. Now we can’t stay over there anymore.”
Darryl said although it was looking a bit messy, people should not have put up a “Zero Tolerance for the Homeless” sign around City Hall.
Adam Goodwin, senior biomedical engineering major, said Riverside has a large population of homeless people and it will affect them directly.
“As a university focused on following Jesus, we should be promoting justice and protection of the vulnerable in our city,” Goodwin said. “My hope during this difficult time is that the community of
Riverside will continue to protect and support the homeless.”
One of the reasons Riverside City council members are banning public camping has been the increase in people camping and showering in public spaces.
Jesse Power, junior mechanical engineering major, said this new rule might encourage students and faculty to get involved with homeless outreach projects.
“Local churches and organizations are needed especially during this time to provide food and shelter,” Power said. “I feel the CBU community can help the homeless by feeding their souls with the Gospel and understanding their need for Christ during this time.”
There are a number of cities in California and the United States that prohibit public camping, including Anaheim, Santa Monica and Denver, Colorado. Some cities have faced protests and difficult legal challenges that claim the bans are unconstitutional.
*Last name withheld