Quality of Life: The legislature may guarantee it of the poor too

January 7, 2013
Stew Jenkins

Stew Jenkins


The inalienable right to life and liberty. So simply stated in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, would be guaranteed to desperately impoverished Californians by proposed amendments to multiple statutes if the “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act”, Assembly Bill 5, is adopted.

Who would have thought in California that a statute would be needed to open public places, public parking lots, sidewalks, parks and streets to permit people to move, use, and innocently rest without being subjected to local criminal ordinances and police harassment?

Who would have thought that Cities would make it a crime to give or share food in a public place with a poor person, and that a State Statute would be necessary to protect your right to feed a needy neighbor. But in the second decade of the 21st Century, that is exactly what Cities like San Luis Obispo have triggered Assembly member Tom Ammiano propose. His Assembly Bill 5 would supersede local ordinances like those adopted by San Luis Obispo, and many other California Cities, that target the poor forced to shelter under bridges and in their vehicles.

To illustrate the need, Ammiano’s bill starts by setting out findings on the tragic history of local California communities using “ugly laws” (1867), “anti-Okie laws” (1937), “sundown laws” (abolished in 1968), “vagrancy laws” (revise in 1961, and struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983), and now “quality of life” and “civil sidewalk” ordinances used to force homeless people to flee local jurisdictions and impose de facto segregation against poor people. These local ordinances, Ammiano says, “tend to condemn large groups of inhabitants to dwell in segregated districts or under depressed living conditions that result in crowded, unsanitary, substandard, and unhealthful accommodations [which] result in criminalization of homeless persons who choose not to migrate [out of the towns seeking to exclude them].”

Simple things are proposed in the Act to keep local governments from targeting poor people, guaranteeing the right to use public restrooms and public showers at all times, the right to occupy, rest and use a vehicle that is legally parked, the right of the individual to decide whether or not to enter a public or private shelters, and the right to vote and to enroll children in public schools.

Ammiano’s proposed AB 5 clarifies that no homeless person may be denied equal access to benefits administered or funded by any agency that receives financial assistance from the state. And finally, his Bill proposes state funding of community compliance, and of community construction/acquisition of housing to raise the “quality of life” of the poorest among us.

Assembly Bill 5 may benefit from some minor amendments in committee, but it is a comprehensive way to return California to being a leader in human rights for all. Ammiano deserves support to get AB 5 passed, and signed by the Governor.

Stew Jenkins is a San Luis Obispo based attorney known for his civil rights cases.


Ted Slanders

Mr. Jenkins,

Stu Jenkins quote; “Who would have thought in California that a statute would be needed to open public places, public parking lots, sidewalks, parks and streets to permit people to move, use, and innocently rest without being subjected to local criminal ordinances and police harassment?”

So, subsequent to reading your opinion about homeless rights, then we can only preclude that it’s okay for said homeless to legally park and “innocently rest” in front of your office on Morro Street, and within the area of your home as well? While doing so, it’s obvious that it’s okay for the homeless to “move and use” public sidewalks in front of your business to confront your clients for money and food while entering or leaving your place of business?

After all, you did say, to wit: “Who would have thought that Cities would make it a crime to give or share food in a public place with a poor person.” Did you not? The public place in this case, is the sidewalk and parking area in front of your business and/or home.

If the worst case scenario happened while using the public sidewalk and parking outside of your business and/or home, where the homeless disregarded your neat surroundings and left trash and possible human waste therein, you would not be disturbed in any way like others have been?

If the chickens came home to roost in front of your business and/or home, and especially if you have children, or they discouraged possible clients from doing business with you, I really believe that you just may have a slightly different opinion than what you gave in your initial post above.


Excuse me, if these people are truly down and out then there is help and programs for them to get into, but camping on our citys sidewalks panhandling isn’t one of them, many have mental problems such as the vagrant that grabbed at the young girl a couple months ago at a crosswalk, we don’t want these people wondering loose on our city streets, there are the ones that have staked out their spots at the driveways in and out of markets and malls, those people are to damm lazy to get a job, they ARE making more money panhandling at those driveways, between that and food stamps that we the taxpayer give them they do better than most, don’t force these people down our throats, they are not willing to do a thing for them selves but some of you feel we should enable then some more.


The sight of people like Jenkins and his bull makes me sick.

If this particular bill , in the way it is written passes, it will no longer be logical to endure a life of struggle and suffering!


This bill, as written, would actually give homeless people more rights than the rest of us. For example, if you pitched your tent on public property such as the courthouse lawn, you could be removed by police if you have a home. If you are homeless, then you have the right to stay, and if the police hassle you, then you have the right to an attorney, free of charge to you.

As written, the bill gives homeless people the right to defecate, pee, and camp on the sidewalk area in front of your house or the neighborhood school or any business.

The bill’s author Ammiano (another San Francisco gay activist leftest) has also tried to make crime against the homeless a hate crime in a previous bill.


Engraved on a placque at the base of the Statue of Liberty is this poem by Emma Lazarus:

“The New Colossus”

Send me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore….

Send these; the HOMELESS, tempest tossed to me.

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door.


So, do all the negativos mean you don’t like the poem (that has defined our receptive and benevolent reputation for over a century) or the fact it was presented to you here?

Even though many comments here bring up real and difficult issues the way they are presented shows a mean spirit. “I’ve got mine, to hell with everyone else” is the message I’m getting from many here. That’s too bad. Democracy is messy. I don’t want homeless camped in front of my house, or even downtown. But they cannot be barred from accessing our public facilities, they are the public as well.

Do not put all this on Stew Jenkins. He is advocating for positive change, he does not have to bear the burden of paying for it any more than the rest of us. I do not want to pay for drones, do those of you who like those anonymous killers want to pay for them on your own? I didn’t think so.


Mr. Jenkins, you forgot to list your address (home or business) so we can make sure the homeless know where they can go for a warm place to sleep, a clean shower or the use of the restroom. A sandwich and drink would also be nice. Oh yea, that can get all that at Prado Rd and Maxine Lewis Center if they are sober, drug free and know who to act like adults. Like the gun killings, most of the people need to be locked up and treated for mental illness not because they don’t have services available. Most of these people choose this lifestyle. Buy them a ticket to SF!


Mr/Ms. slobird, you forgot to list your real name, so Mr J can make sure to address you by name when he explains all of your assumptions. We will need your city too so San Francisco and San Diego can send some “tourists” your way.

PS there is no “one answer” to homelessness.


Hey there, Kettle, I will give my name and city as soon as you give yours. SLOBIRD will be a fine salutation should Mr. Jenkins care to address me. If people have not been to SF within the last 5 years I would recommend you take a trip to the City of losers. I have not been there since the last time I saw people urinating in the gutters, sleeping in doorways, puking on the sidewalks, panhandling everywhere, going through garbage cans and tossing the trash on the sidewalks and the best, as we came out of a theatre near Union Square was a guy pulled a gun, shot someone and dropped the gun and ran. Good for SF, they want them, they can have them and enable their wonderful life. This is a choice SF wants, hopefully SLO will not make that choice as they will end up like Santa Maria, no safe zones for residents between the drunk students and the homeless. I like everyone else want to help people down and out. I do not want to enable a bunch of losers. SLO Housing has vacant houses, they are giving them to transitions because they can not find people who qualify for assistance because of their lifestyles. Go preach to Brother Ted, because I don’t want to throw my money at a system that does not work. It is a job creator for Jenkins, Rizzo, Torres, etc. The actual victims, homeless, are not moving forward with their lives. These people need to be put in boot camps and taught social skills: work ethnics, respect, clean, sober and drug programs and they need to be made to rehab or move on. .


While I work in SLO, I live in Nipomo. Consequently I do much of my shopping in Santa Maria.

It appears to me that the drunk students and homeless already prefer SLO over Santa Maria.


While many of your points are valid, you are badly mistaken on the percentage of homeless who choose the lifestyle. Even counting those who are homeless because they “chose” to abuse substances (but not to be homeless).

Just because the ones who get public attention are troublemakers doesn’t mean that all (or even “most”) are the same. As kettle points out, there is no one solution to homelessness. For many, it will take some serious long-term counseling to overcome addictions. For many others, it may just be some simple short-term fixed to get them back on their feet. Some need some skills training. There are some who need mandatory mental health care even if it involves institutionalizing them. And there will always be a few of the sort that you seem to think are the bulk of the problem — those homeless by choice.


These are not fat times, whose going to pay for all these goodies …….. not a problem, you people advocating it should pay, and if you further your service into it you might be able to make a big chunk like Jenkins did with his bull and BS.


Not so, we all pay for what society determines. Stew and Rizzo won a court case to defend the defenseless, I applaud them for that. That’s bull and bs, convincing a court that SLO was engaging in unconstitutional practices?

Lot of foolish armchair cowboys on this blog site, another one of the intricacies of our society where anyone can say anything. I guess it would be cool if we could all choose what we want to pay for via line item. Of course if you don’t want to pay for roads you don’t get to use them. If you don’t want to pay for counseling for our troubled citizens you get no help from the police or government if said troubled folks bother you (like rob, kill or otherwise bother you).

No, Stew and Saro brought an injustice to court and were ratified in their claims, no amount of whining will undo that. No amount of whining will place blame on them.

We have a big problem with the hordes of poor, homeless and others that the ‘nice’ folks don’t want to acknowledge. We are short on money, that is due to the corporate welfare cheats, not those at the bottom of the pile.


I was going to make a snide comment but then I realized that with Obama as president I just might need this law in a few years myself.

Ted Slanders


Good call! Yes, since Obama is president and has to deal with a GOP controlled DO NOTHING Congress, the worst in sixty years, you’re correct about holding back on any comments until BONER and his cohorts actually do something for the economy!

What was BONER’s mantra back in 2010? Oh yeah, to create jobs, jobs, jobs! Wait, what job bills has the GOP Congress and BONER brought forth to date? ZERO, NADA, ZIP!

The Democrats have brought forth job bills, but what has the GOP Congress done to them? Yep, they filibustered, clotured them, and basically dismissed them altogether through insidious parlor tricks. My favorite jobs bill that the GOP blocked was the Veteran’s Job Bill. What was your favorite GOP job bill blocking?

You might be homeless sooner than you think because the GOP is more concerned in always saying NO and keeping Obama from helping the economy, and all at the expense of it’s citizens and enriching the wealthy.

Don’t forget, large livable card board boxes are available at the UPS or the FEDEX stores and fit under most highway bridges. Good luck!


Wow, no wonder you call yourself “slanders”, first, since our government derives all it’s revenue from taxes, it cannot “bring forth” any jobs at all. That is the purpose of the private sector. The most the government can do is get out of the way. Second, I would dearly love a four year filibuster so we would at least not print and spend more money! And third, I make plenty of money, and pay plenty of taxes unlike half of America. A straight 15% flat tax, with no deductions at all for anyone sounds good to me.

A couple of bumper stickers for you;

Help those who CAN’T help themselves, not those who WON’T.

The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people’s money.

My gun has killed fewer people than Ted Kennedy’s car.

(I love that last one)

Ted Slanders


Please, take your ignorance elsewhere, okay?

The government can initiate jobs, as was proposed within the Veteran’s Job Bill that was defeated by the GOP controlled House.

The Veterans Jobs Corp Act would have paid for itself with revenues over ten years. It would have created new job-training programs to help veterans find work in targeted fields such as national park conservation, historic preservation projects, police work and firefighting, among others.

You know, those Veterans that we sent off to fraudulent wars by “W” and were lucky enough to make it back. Barring the fact that said wars cost us trillions of dollars of UNPPAID for debt, It’s those of our armed services that we wanted to help! The GOP said once again, NO!

Instead of giving us insipid child like quips, stay on topic and tell us which Job’s Bill that the GOP has overturned was your favorite?


That’s funny, you calling me ignorant! A religious closed minded zealot! I did notice all four jobs you quoted were government jobs. Government jobs are paid for with money the government gets by taxing those in the private sector. And as for staying on topic, maybe your bible was in the way of your computer screen but, the topic was “Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights and Fairness Act”. duh.

Ted Slanders


You forgot to tell us which jobs bill that was quashed by the GOP controlled Congress in the last four years you liked the best? Hard to pick one, huh?

Shelworth quote: “I was going to make a snide comment but then I realized that with Obama as president I just might need this law in a few years myself.”

Your ever so wanting post above was the impetus of my statements towards you. I was realistically within topic to your out of touch quip. Get it? Yeah, you do.


I guess we just have to agree to disagree Ted. You like your government to be like your religion; to lead you around by the nose with promises of “rewards” for not questioning anything, whereas I am a rugged individualist who wants those who are able to support themselves to do so.

Ted Slanders


For the LAST TIME, which jobs bill that was quashed by the GOP controlled Congress in the last four years was your favorite??!! We all know that you can’t include any GOP job bills BECAUSE THEY NEVER BROUGHT FORTH ANY IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS, ZERO, NADA, ZIP!

John Boner’s mantra in the 2010 elections was to create jobs, jobs, jobs! Where are those jobs that the leader of the Congress promised? The only thing that he was able to do was to turn down any jobs bill that the Democrats brought forth, but DID NOT bring any to bear himself! Cool, huh?

Agreed, anyone that is able, is to support themselves. But, what does it say about a society that doens’t take care of the ones that can’t for a myriad of reasons? Does the Christian mind-set allow them to just put them out on the street to suffer as they sit home waxing their latest Bimmer?

What government metahorically doesn’t lead it’s people around by the nose with such things as laws, restrictions, taxes, ordinances, DMV laws, etc. You’re funny.


These are not fat times, whose going to pay for all these goodies …….. not a problem, you people advocating it should pay, and if you further your service into it you might be able to make a big chunk like Jenkins did with his bull and BS.


“shelworth says: 01/07/2013 at 1:27 pm

I was going to make a snide comment but then I realized that with Obama as president I just might need this law in a few years myself.”

Come to think about it, your right about that

Ted Slanders


Where in the hell were you when “W” was spending like a drunken sailor with the TWO UN-FUNDED AND FRAUDULENT WARS, and the UN-FUNDED Medicare part D, and the ever so popular UN-FUNDED tax cuts for the wealthy at the expense of the Middle Class?! Huh?

Where were you when VP Dick Cheney in 2002 when meeting with Treasury Secretary Paul H. O’Neill to further tax cuts for the wealthy stated that “deficits don’t matter!?” Huh?

Where were you when “W” came into office with a a 550 billion surplus from Clinton, and left this country 8 years later by putting us into a 10 trillion plus debt? Were you upset with this fact as you are today when we’re trying to dig out of the Bush fiasco?

The conservative GOP practice of cutting taxes while spending millions on wars, less taxes for the wealthy, Medicare part D, has led to the largest debt in half a century!


Indeed …many of the “Rights of Man” were outlined by one of America’s ‘founding fathers’, Thomas Paine in a tract of the same name in 1791.

Paine further commented on the inequalities of our economic systems in “Agrarian Justice” published in 1795, where he called for a guaranteed income and divisions of wealth due all citizens in a republic, instead of going towards a few landed property owners.

This was the precursor to the modern social safety net that is most commonly recognised in Social Security.

It is no mistake that these advancements in civilization are now and always have been under attack from the ultra-rich.

Paine was a true patriot; and he saw that the real enemies of American liberty were not simply the royalist English, but all perceived overlords and the power elite of finances and property.


I see the old band of negative Nancy keyboard crusaders here on CCN are swarming again.

Plenty of heavy thumbs on the dislike icon, but no-one to offer rebuttal ! How curious.

I think Tom Paine would call them something stronger than “summer soldiers and sunshine patriots”.


I stand with you, Slower.

The Gimlet Eye

Looking to government to solve a government caused problem? Not a good idea!

Jeanne Blackwell

What exactly do you see as a government caused problem? Thank you.


Any thing that good happens the government takes the credit for! So they must take blame for the bad.

The Gimlet Eye

See Murray N. Rothbard:

The Neocon Welfare State, Chapter 21

from Making Economic Sense



What hogwash ! Even Milton Friedman admitted that the ‘do-nothingism’ inherent in Austrian School theory is junk.


Addressing you dimwits can be an exercise in futility…but this is for others elucidation, not for willful idiots:

Our US government solved a government caused problem when President Abraham Lincoln decreed the EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION that outlawed slavery ; and then our federal legislature ( the “government” ) passed the 13th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.

You are SO full of it ( and you know what IT is ! ).