Where should the homeless go?

The city council of San Antonio Texas just enacted a new city ordinance that targets the homeless. San Antonio does in fact have some problem with homeless people congregating in the downtown area. The major problem that the political types have with them is that it makes a bad image for our tourist! After all these homeless people are sleeping and pan handling within view of the Alamo and our beautiful river walk. These homeless people urinate against walls and defecate in alley ways which does cause a health hazard.

It was quite comical watching these political types discuss these ordinances as they were trying to look tough on crime and look compassionate to those less fortunate and look like they were taking care of the downtown business all at the same time! The citizens that signed up to speak during these meetings did their best to try to point out the fallacy of the politicians knee jerk proclamations. I will break down a few of these new city laws for you.

Pan handling is now against the law?

You know what pan handling is don't you? Well being politicians as they are, they had to figure that one out. The politicians decided that pan handling was basically when s person asked another person that they did not already know for money! That all seemed fairly simple until a few concerned citizens stood up to speak. A citizen that is a lawyer stood up and said that just asking somebody for money was protected as free speech according to the supreme court. The politicians did not like hearing that and still thought they should do something about that problem. We can't just have people walking up asking other people for money! The next citizen that spoke informed the councilman that in fact on the way to the meeting somebody had stopped him on the street asking for money so the councilman could run for mayor! The council quickly huddled and decided that there was going to have to be more work on that definition. After many weeks of hard work they decide to outlaw aggressive pan handling. That meant touching the person or following them when they said no.

Sitting in a public area where there is no chair or bench.

The problem is these homeless people are sitting and sleeping on sidewalks and in our downtown parks. This one should be easy, just make it against the law to sit or recline if there is not an official chair or a bench for such use. A citizen spoke of her concern of being arrested for having a lunch time picnic while sitting or laying on a blanket! The council said that the police would be able to use their judgment on that. An officer stood up and said that they did not want to be put in that position of selectively enforcing the law.

Public urination and defecating.

We can't have the tourist seeing that! A retired DPS officer spoke and said that the state already had laws that covered that. Not the bodily functions but the fact that some other person could see it. Where are the homeless going to go? There are no public bathrooms downtown and when you got to go you got to go! Several upstanding citizens spoke to that fact, telling of having to go into a business and buy something just so they could answer natures call. The council informed the citizens that there is one bathroom open during daytime business hours and one bathroom at a city parking garage open for a few hours at night. San Antonio has over one million documented residents and only two public restrooms that are open for restricted hours!

How does this affect the law enforcement officers?

San Antonio Texas is patrolled by three branches of law enforcement. The San Antonio Police Department, the Bexar County Sheriffs Department and the Park Police all said they did not want to have to enforce these new laws. They are aware of the homeless problem and know most of these homeless people by name. They do not want to have to selectively enforce these laws and in most cases the person they arrest will be back on the street before the officer is through with the paperwork!

Where should the homeless go?

This article by Douglas J. Rasor
17-Mar-2005 04:44 PM

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