RIVERSIDE, Calif. (FOX 11)
A new rule approved on Tuesday prohibits camping on public property in Riverside.
Scott Heekin is one person who is upset about Riverside's new ordinance aimed at keeping people from camping and storing personal items on Riverside's streets, sidewalks and parks. The measure was approved at City Council by a 6 to 1 vote. It was an ordinance proposed by Councilman Jim Perry who says, "we get plenty of complaints from homeowners and business owners who, when they walk down the street or into their business, they're either having to step over people, walk around tents...walk around other camping material."
Heekin, who has been homeless for 9 years, has very few possessions. His suitcase is stuffed with a couple of dusty blankets to keep him warm. He has three pair of broken down shoes, a tent and that's about it. That tent is his home and shelter. But, because he won't be able to pitch it on public property he says he'll try to find some other place to go.
The 52-year old is frustrated as he says, "They're being real cruel to the homeless. What have we done?" He understands the problem, "... but they also have to understand one thing," he says, "where are we going to go? Where are we going to go?
Some go to the Santa Ana river. Now, they won't be able to go there, or the sidewalks or the parks..
He says it's "not fair". But, Perry says it's not about being fair or unfair. He says it's about another tool after they've already tried advising the homeless on ways they can get help. He says don't expect homeless sweeps just because the rule would make that possible. Says the 6th Ward Councilman, "When it come down to the enforcement of it we have three choices. Arrests, cite and release or advisement. Advisement is just as important and if there were to come a time to where an arrest or citation was issued we want some documented background to show there are multiple violations before we move forward."
The new municipal rule goes into effect in thirty days.
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