This is an official letter to the San Diego Mayor and City Council by ANA\California and its San Diego Taskforce opposing an unsafe camping ordinance impacting the health and lives of unhoused San Diegans.
The Honorable Mayor Tod Gloria
The Honorable City Councilmembers
RE: OPPOSE - The Unsafe Camping Ordinance Proposal
Dear Mayor Gloria and San Diego City Councilmembers, As members and local representatives of the American Nurses Association\California, we urge you to vote NO on the proposed Unsafe Camping Ordinance. This ordinance poses extreme dangers for elderly and medically fragile persons experiencing houselessness. For hundreds of San Diegans, the encampments are not camping, they are a means of survival. As nurses who provide street triage services in these encampments, we implore you to appreciate the extreme medical fragility and disability of people living in these encampments; disabilities so severe that they are disqualified from shelter options, and it would be physically impossible for them to move their tents.
ANA\C is a bi-parSsan professional nursing organization representing the interests of more than 500,000 licensed registered nurses in California. Our mission is to advance the quality of health care such as access to care and ethical practice of nursing in contemporary society through education, legislaSon, regulations & policy advocacy. As a professional advocacy organization, ANA\C has been extensively involved in legislative & policy efforts that became California’s laws and policies and that are currently making California a place of Nursing Excellence.
Tent one is a recently pregnant woman who is paralyzed from the waist down. She lives with her developmentally delayed family member who has multiple severe chronic health conditions, can barely walk, and requires a dozen daily medications. They keep each other alive. They live next to a double amputee who is deaf and blind. The next tent is a diabetic elderly person who is wheelchair-bound and incontinent. Down the path is a severely cognitively impaired woman who just had her second baby. None of them have access to shelters because of the supportive care they require. As noted in the recent press conference, these people defecate in buckets and diapers. They do this because there are no bathrooms within several blocks, and the ones that are nearby are not wheelchair or assistive-device accessible. The ANA Code of Ethics directs us to intervene in structures and policies that have the potential for human rights violations. The encampments are unsafe, for all of us, but they are the most unsafe for the very people that are forced to live and die in them.
The proposed Unsafe Camping Ordinance does not address the critical need for safe walkways for our community. Instead, it exacerbates the human rights violations inherent to the conditions of homelessness in San Diego by criminalizing poverty and one of the last means of survival for a population of people. Should this ordinance be enforced, people will die. Guided by the ANA Code of Ethics, and by our professional experiences caring for people living in these encampments, we strongly oppose this ordinance.
For these reasons, we urge your NO vote, and instead look toward interventions that align with your inspired strategy, Mayor Gloria, when during your Mayoral campaign throughout 2019, you called for a strategy “focused on permanent supportive housing, ending chronic homelessness, and no more criminalizing the existence of San Diego’s poorest and sickest residents.”
We are available to discuss this important issue with you further and look forward to collaborating with You and this Council on just and sustainable interventions to address human rights and this public health crisis.
Dr. Marketa Houskova, DNP, MAIA, BA, RN
ED@anacalifornia.org (916) 346-4590
Dr. Danisha Jenkins, PhD, RN
Nursing Practice Director, Board Member (2023-2025)
Laura Chechel, MSN, RN, CNS
Legislative Director, Board Member (2021-2023)
1107 9th Str Suite 350 Sacramento, CA 95814
O: (916) 346-4590