Chronic camping by homeless people gets banned in Fresno

Homeless people camp on Mono Street at Fresno’s Chinatown.
Homeless people camp on Mono Street at Fresno’s Chinatown. jwalker@fresnobee.com

A law to ban chronic camping by homeless people on public property or on private property without the owner’s permission was approved Thursday by the Fresno City Council.

The 6-1 vote came after Abré Conner, attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, cautioned the council against a law that she said could represent an unconstitutional violation of the civil rights of homeless individuals. But councilmen Garry Bredefeld, Oliver Baines, Paul Caprioglio, Clint Olivier and Luis Chavez joined the law’s author, Steve Brandau, in approving the measure. Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria was the lone vote against it.

The ordinance will now take effect in 30 days. The law would make illegal camping a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or by up to six months in jail. Alternately, illegal campers can opt to allow police to take them to MAP Point, a multiagency clearinghouse for housing, shelter, health and social services based at Poverello House, instead of having their belongings confiscated and being booked into jail.