If you don’t let them build it, they won’t come.
That, at least, is the experience of Coronado, California, Mayor Richard Bailey. The Republican boasts the lowest homeless population in a state known for a serious homeless problem.
How has he done it? By not letting homeless populations build encampments, he told Fox News.
In a Thursday interview on “Fox & Friends First,” Bailey said the solution wasn’t rocket science.
“The policies that are in place at the regional and statewide level that are tolerating this type of behavior that is personally destructive and also destructive to the surrounding communities are really enabling this situation to increase throughout our entire state, and throughout our entire region,” the mayor of the San Diego-area city said.
“Changing these policies will actually have a major impact.”
Instead of throwing money at the problem or endorsing woke solutions, Bailey said Coronado police and a homeless service provider they work with give homeless individuals in the city one option — get help.
The city has a zero-tolerance policy for violating codes against encampments and other violations, but it funds “reasonable” services to get homeless people “back on their feet.”
Coronado has emerged as a shining example in addressing homelessness, and its efforts are gaining recognition. Unlike other cities that permit tent encampments on sidewalks, we prioritize getting help as the only choice.
“We also make it very clear that we don’t tolerate encampments along our sidewalks, and we don’t tolerate other code violations such as being drunk in public or urinating in public or defecating in public,” Bailey said.
“We just simply don’t tolerate these basic code violations. What ends up happening is an individual either chooses to get help or they end up leaving.”
For those who found this approach heartless, Bailey had a message for them.
“The fact of the matter is there, although there are a myriad of reasons that people end up homeless, they eventually only fall into two camps — those that want help and those that do not want help,” Bailey said.
“Those that are refusing to get help shouldn’t be granted … the ability to break laws such as tent encampments on the sidewalk or urinating or defecating in public,” he said.
“We need to be enforcing these policies to ultimately kind of help them get into that other camp that eventually get help.”
These seem like sensible measures. Indeed, they led to Coronado having just one homeless individual in the city — and even that person was getting help to get off the streets, Bailey told Fox News.
Meanwhile, California has 30 percent of the country’s homeless population and has spent $10 billion since 2018 trying to curb the problem — although little of that has gone to enforcing laws against massive homeless encampments or open-air drug markets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District.
While there are doubtlessly other things that could help out — reducing property taxes, for instance, or loosening California’s restrictive zoning laws — cracking down on massive homeless encampments seems like good old-fashioned common sense.
Alas, this is California — the place where common sense goes to die. At the very least, Richard Bailey and Coronado have found a way to keep homelessness to near-zero levels. Other California politicians would do well to follow suit.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.
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