San Jose students and city staff have crafted a new proposed ordinance to address concerns about safety when it comes to homeless encampments near schools.
“To prohibit encampments and vehicle dwellings from 150 feet within any licensed preschool, day care, or K-through-12 schools,” Councilman Peter Ortiz said.
On the books right now is what’s called informal guidance that only recommends the 150-foot buffer. The new policy would be in the form of an ordinance and enforceable by law.
“[The students] spoke out because homeless neighbors were sleeping on school grounds and in school bathrooms,” Mayor Matt Mahan said. “They spoke out because they were finding needles on their lunch tables.”
Students and city leaders said part of the issue is RVs and other vehicles parked for prolonged periods along walking routes to schools.
Fernanda Morales rarely walks to school any more.
“If I do, I do have to carry my pepper spray, which is obviously not something I hope to use,” she said.
Morales said she was followed one day by a man who came out of an RV that was parked in front of her school, KIPP San Jose Collegiate. Other times, the high school senior said she’s faced verbal harassment.
Alberto Oseguera and his neighbor Francisco live in an RV near the school. They said they never bother children but realize they’ll have to find a new place to park.
The city vows to fight for more services for the unhoused but knows it needs to act fast.
“Our students should not have to face the ramifications of our failure on homelessness,” Mahan said.
Source: NBC Bay Area