Golden Hill Citizen Asks City to Enforce Vagrancy Laws

“The place down there reeks,” Norman Starr told the San Diego City Council on March 22. “It’s frightening to walk among that many panhandlers.”

Starr described an area occupied by homeless people near his rental properties located on 19th Avenue (between B and C street), adjacent to the Interstate 5 underpass. He requested that the City enforce its vagrancy laws near his buildings, which he claimed to have renovated and rebuilt with a lot of money and care. He said the situation is not ideal for the homeless or the community.

“At the moment, the homeless folks that are living under the bridge — they defecate on the property and urinate in public,” said Starr. “The police are unable to do anything about it.”

According to Starr, his tenants — some of whom attend nearby City College — enjoy walking downtown. However, he added that the bad odor and the large homeless population around the area makes walking toward downtown “difficult.”

Share / Tools

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • AddThis
  • Email

More from SDReader


The most recent ARJIS report for the past 1-month period shows little crime for the 7 to 8 blocks north/south and east of the 19th and C underpass. In the past month, one commercial burglary, one public drunkenness, and one theft were reported. That's it. I sympathize with your tenants and understand that their displeasure could impact your rental income, but if the people huddling under the public property overpass are trespassing and violating your private property, please report the incidents.

Being smelly isn't illegal. Urinating and defecating in public are citable. You and your tenants can report those violations, if you witness them and then stand by to wait for the police to arrive.

But what are the "vagrancy laws" to which you refer? Penal code, please?

The United States Supreme Court has held statutes or ordinances which declare a person to be a vagrant if he loiters, wanders, or roams about, to be void on grounds that such statutes are too vague to meet constitutional requirements.

Sounds like Democracy, yes? The good, the bad, the ugly, all bundled up in our system, which protects us all to one extent or the other, more fairly than most other systems.

But what are the "vagrancy laws" to which you refer? Penal code, please?

============= There is no such law.

In fact the LAPD lost a major case over this issue a few years back where they were rousting homeless people who had no place to live-they got their clock cleaned in federal court.

In fact you cannot even ask someone for an ID without resonable suspecion thanks to a SCOTUS case that arose right here in San Diego with our very own Bill Kolander.

. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kolender_v._Lawson .

Thanks, SurfP. It seemed to me that the term "vagrancy laws" was really outdated, ...a phrase that represents removal from everyday reality and the well-known, real-world, much-discussed and documented problems of people living on America's streets.

I don’t think there are vagrancy laws in California. It was struck down by the Supreme Court. The law was replaced with drunk in public, but don’t quote me.

Why not ask the city to build more public restrooms and some public showers?

Does the MAD clean up people poop, or only dog poop? Just asking, a question for the MAD oversight committee.

Who knows? Hope somebody asks. The answer would be interesting.

Since there aren't any vagrancy laws to harass the homeless away and make them LEAVE, to somewhere distant from Mr Starr's properties, maybe the MAD or the Downtown Clean and Safe could foot the bill for a Life Coach for the homeless. A new solution? People do make money by selling pop-psychology pep talks.

A Life Coach could come down to the underpass, say, every Friday night, and talk to the folks there about getting fitter and healthier, making lasting changes, improving their relationships, increasing income (better "panhandling style?) and/or healing their relationship with money, dissolving blocks, exchanging old beliefs with new supporting beliefs, turning stress into bliss, reintroducing creativity and joy into their lives,... helping them through this time of transition. All this could happen in a joyful and energetic way. The "clients" (NOT "vagrants," mind you!) get to be their true magnificent selves and leave empowered and happy. Emphasis on LEAVE.

Yes, that's just what we all need. Sounds like the crap Terry Cole-Whittaker was selling here thirty years ago. Only she was supposedly part of a church. The church had an interesting name (which I will not mention) that was an oxymoron inside an oxymoron. Sometimes in the central city you just have to put up with life as it is. And life there ain't pretty, not by a long shot.

I don't recall what is was. Could it have been the First United Church of the King?

Yep, Vis, I was def tongue-in-cheek. Complaining about vagrancy laws to the Council is so pathetic that I just couldn't resist spoofing on it. Believe it or not, someone involved in this article DOES have a family biz selling pop-psych cr*p and I took the spiel almost directly from their promo. Also, adrian commenting below is spot on. Homelessness, mental illness, poverty, dysfunctional government,... are such seriously unaddressed problems that the void they create opens the door to cultish nonprofits. Of all types, not just churches. Not meaning to dis those 501c3s that do try to help by feeding and caring for helpless people, but many "nonprofit"-associated profiteers are also out there. And sometimes their access to government allows them to publicize trivial complaints that really have an underlying motive.

Actually, Mr Starr, you should just complain to the Downtown San Diego Partnership (the arm of the Redevelopment Agency group, Centre City Development Corporation, involved in the privatized property tax collection business known as the PBID, or "Clean and Safe").

The 19th and C underpass is not inside the Golden Hill district, but rather is inside the downtown district. If the biggest offense is that the presence of the homeless in the underpass "makes walking toward downtown 'difficult'" for your tenants, call on CCDC/DTSDP. Surely they will be happy to help you. Maybe your area could be called "adjacent to blight" and you could get some $$ out of it.

That's what happens when there's no public restrooms, and business's in the area refuse to help non paying customers(mostly homless people with bad odor). Theres practically no public restrooms downtown outside of Horton plaza, and nobody's truly doing anything about the problem we face with the growing poverty population. We have no sufficient programs to help the homeless, theres over crowding in what we do have, and not enough funding. we need to accept the fact that there are homeless people downtown and until we are sufficient enough to help them with jobs and housing, we need to accommodated them with at least restrooms, or continue to face problems like these.

Log in to comment

Skip Ad