Wilk seeks signatures to support bill on homeless encampments 

State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, speaks during the Valley Industry Association Fifth Annual State of the State at the Grand Ballroom in the Hyatt Regency in Valencia, Calif., on Thursday, July 7, 2022. Chris Torres/The Signal
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State Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, sought support from his constituents Monday for a bill backed by GOP lawmakers that would change how local governments can address homeless encampments. 

Senate Bill 31, according to the text of the legislation, “would prohibit a person from sitting, lying, sleeping or storing, using, maintaining, or placing personal property upon any street, sidewalk or other public right-of-way within 1,000 feet of a sensitive area, as defined.”  

The bill would consider such activity a public nuisance, which would also give prosecutors the discretion to charge such a violation with an infraction or a misdemeanor, but also would prohibit any sort of prosecution unless 72 hours’ notice is given of a suspected violation. 

“By imposing criminal penalties for a violation of these provisions, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program,” according to the bill’s text. 

The bill, introduced by principal co-authors Sens. Brian Jones, R-San Diego, and Shannon Grove, R-Kern County, is an effort to address California’s homelessness crisis, which “is spiraling out of control,” according to Wilk’s email, which urges residents to sign a petition of support for the bill. 

“But there is hope,” Wilk wrote. “I am proud to introduce Senate Bill 31, which will compassionately clear encampments and connect individuals with desperately needed services to break the cycle of chronic homelessness. This bill balances accountability with compassion and is a critical step towards ending California’s homelessness crisis.” 

Wilk was not immediately available Monday to respond to a request for comment on the bill. 

The legislation is scheduled for a hearing in front of the Senate Public Safety Committee on March 28, according to LegInfo.org

“Under existing law, a person who lodges in a public or private place without permission is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor,” according to the text of the bill. “Existing law also provides that a person who willfully and maliciously obstructs the free movement of any person on any street, sidewalk or other public place is guilty of a misdemeanor. Existing law provides various remedies against a public nuisance, including abatement by any public body or officer authorized by law.” 

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