This editorial in the Sacramento Bee about the irrationality of the homeless rights bill being introduced in the California State Legislature is a welcome one.
“Imagine that a mentally ill homeless man has taken up residence in front of Joe’s Coffee Shop in downtown Sacramento. His grocery cart, filled with all his possessions, sits beside him.
“The homeless man – let’s call him Tom A., a fitting moniker for purposes of this editorial – sleeps, eats, solicits money from passers-by, urinates on and generally occupies the sidewalk, just inches from the front door of Joe’s Coffee Shop. He’s a turn-off for customers, but the proprietor is powerless to interfere with Tom. The cops are barred from forcing him to vacate the sidewalk or arresting him.
“If the “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act,” a measure introduced by San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, were ever enacted into law, the nightmare scenario described above would become reality. As introduced, the bill would give homeless people the right to commandeer sidewalks, parks, beaches, subway tunnels, bus stops or plazas – virtually any and all public spaces in California.
“Ammiano says that is not his intent, that his bill “is far from being fully formed” that he “is not interested in usurping local authority,” or “permitting bad behaviors.” Rather he wants the state to develop “uniform policies” on how to deal with homeless people.
“Whether the assemblyman is serious about this measure or is simply seeking a more robust debate about homelessness, his bill has failed on both counts. As introduced in its extreme form, it has become a silly distraction, easy to parody, not a vehicle for a serious discussion about homelessness. And such a discussion is sorely needed.”