City Council Plan to Address Homelessness

In response to persistent complaints from downtown and Eastside business interests about homeless people and panhandlers harassing passersby, the Santa Barbara City Council unanimously embraced a 12-point program that seeks to balance enforcement with prevention and intervention. Details have yet to be worked out, but the plan-authored by councilmembers Iya Falcone, Helene Schneider, and Dale Francisco-calls for tougher anti-panhandling laws and for the business community to participate in an “alternate giving” anti-panhandling program, proceeds of which could fund social service agencies that help area homeless. It also calls for City Hall to spend nearly $50,000 a year to house the most vulnerable homeless in motels if and when the shelters are full. Those funds will come from a $1 million housing fund exacted from developer Bill Levy to offset the loss of affordable accommodations when the California Hotel closed. Finally, the plan calls for greater cooperation and coordination between the police and outreach workers in seeing that the homeless-and the 100 top open container offenders in particular-are referred to the appropriate agencies for help.

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