BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 5
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          Date of Hearing:   May 15, 2013

                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                    AB 5 (Ammiano) - As Amended:  April 30, 2013 

          Policy Committee:                              JudiciaryVote:7-3

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              Yes


          This bill establishes specific rights for homeless persons.  
          Specifically, this bill:

          1)Provides that every homeless person in the state shall have a  
            right to:

             a)   Move freely, rest (as defined, and including sleeping),  
               solicit donations, pray, meditate, or practice religion,  
               and eat, share, accept, or give food or water in state or  
               local public spaces (as defined) in the same manner as any  
               other person; occupy a motor vehicle or recreational  
               vehicle either to rest, sleep, or use for the purposes of  
               shelter, provided that the vehicle is legally parked on  
               public property; decline admittance to a public or private  
               shelter or any other accommodation, including social  
               services programs, for any reason he or she sees fit; 

             b)   Do any activity in (a) without being subject to criminal  
               or civil sanctions, harassment or arrest by law  
               enforcement, public or private security personnel, or  
               Business Improvement District (BID) agents because he or  
               she is homeless.

             c)   Engage in lawful self-employment, in the same manner as  
               any other person, including, but not limited to, the right  
               to seek self-employment in junk removal and recycling,  
               without being subject to criminal or civil sanctions,  
               harassment, or arrest because he or she is homeless. 

             d)   Receive assistance of counsel, at county cost, if a  
               county chooses to initiate judicial proceedings under any  


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               laws prohibiting specified activities, such as loitering.

          2)Provides that law enforcement may enforce existing local laws  
            regarding resting in a public place only if all of the  
            following conditions are met: the person's county of residence  
            provides General Assistance 12 months per year for employable,  
            able-bodied adults compliant with county program rules; the  
            jurisdiction is not an area of high unemployment, as defined;  
            and the county's public housing waiting list contains fewer  
            than 50 persons. 

          3)Prohibits the civil sanction, arrest, or harassment of any  
            person or organization offering food or water in a public  
            space to a homeless person.

          4)Prohibits retaliation by an employer against a public employee  
            for offering available public resources to a homeless person  
            to protect the person from harm. 

          5)Provides that every local government and disadvantaged  
            unincorporated community within the state shall have  
            sufficient health and hygiene centers available 24 hours a  
            day, seven days a week, for use by homeless people.

            Requires the health and hygiene centers, at a minimum to  
            contain bathroom and shower facilities, to be funded by the  
            California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and requires  
            the department to provide notices identifying these  

          6)Requires law enforcement agencies to:

             a)   Annually compile and review the number of citations,  
               arrests, and other enforcement activities under laws  
               prohibiting 16 enumerated activities, such as loitering,  
               obstructing a sidewalk, lying down, camping, bathing in  
               public spaces, etc.

             b)   Make public the records of citations, arrests and other  
               enforcement activities under laws that are alleged to be  
               selectively enforced against homeless people, and to report  
               these records to the Attorney General's (AG's) office  


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          7)Provides that any person whose rights have been violated under  
            this part may enforce that right in a civil action in which  
            the court may award appropriate relief and damages, including  
            restitution for loss of property or personal effects and  
            belongings as well as reasonable attorneys' fees and costs to  
            a prevailing plaintiff.

           FISCAL EFFECT  

           1)Hygiene Centers  . It is unclear how many hygiene centers would  
            be needed statewide, as the bill requires every local  
            government and certain unincorporated areas to have a  
            sufficient number of such facilities. It is assumed that the  
            total cost to site, design, and construct a facility with two  
            showers and two restrooms, and including providing utility  
            service and other necessary infrastructure, would be around  
            $400,000. (According to the Department of Parks and  
            Recreation, the basic construction cost for such a unit is  
            around $285,000.)  If every city and county (about 540  
            jurisdictions) developed one facility, the one-time cost would  
            be $216 million. This amount would be reduced to the extent  
            some jurisdictions have existing facilities available for this  
            purpose, though some larger jurisdictions would likely need  
            multiple facilities.

            Ongoing operating costs associated with the centers, including  
            24/7 staffing (assuming one staff), maintenance and repair,  
            and utility service. Assuming a cost of $150,000 per year per  
            center, the statewide cost would be $81 million annually.  
            Should more than one staff be needed, the cost would be  
            significantly higher.

            The above are assumed to be General Fund costs, as the bill  
            requires the centers to be funded by CDPH.

            To the extent homeless persons who are currently not making  
            use of existing restroom and shower facilities use these  
            centers, the above annual costs would be partially offset by  
            public health and sanitation-related cost savings.

           2)Annual Law Enforcement Reports  . Assuming first-year costs of  
            around $20,000 for each local law enforcement agency to track  
            and compile citations, arrest, and other enforcement  
            activities for each of the 16 enumerated offenses and provide  


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            a report to the AG, statewide costs for 350 police department  
            and 58 county sheriff's departments would total $8.2 million.  
            Ongoing costs would probably be around half of this amount.  
            These costs are state reimbursable.

           3)Right to Counsel  . Counties could incur unknown, but  
            potentially significant costs to provide defense counsel in  
            cases where the county prosecutes homeless persons charged  
            with the specified infractions. Given the bill's conveying of  
            rights to homeless persons not to be singled out for such  
            actions, the number of such prosecutions for these offenses  
            would likely diminish over time.

           4)Right of Action  . Cities, counties, and the courts will incur  
            costs to the extent actions are brought by homeless persons  
            alleging violation of the rights conveyed under this bill.  
            These costs are unknown but would be significant statewide.

           5)Implementation  . Every local jurisdiction will incur one-time  
            costs for training and orientation of personnel, particularly  
            for law enforcement, related to proper practices and  
            procedures in light of the new rights and responsibilities  
            contained in this bill. These costs, which are not state  
            reimbursable, likely would be in the low hundreds of thousands  
            of dollars.

           6)Other Impacts  . To the extent the bill leads to a reduction in  
            the arrest, prosecution, and incarceration of homeless  
            persons, there will be savings to law enforcement,  
            prosecutors, and the courts. It should be noted, however, that  
            the state's prison realignment, with its diversion of certain  
            offenders from state prisons, has exacerbated county jail  
            overcrowding and therefore reduced the likelihood of jail time  
            for violations of minor offenses.

            It is unlikely, at least in the short run, that many  
            jurisdictions would meet the requirements (per Summary #2)  
            which would allow enforcement of local laws prohibiting  
            resting, including sleeping, in public spaces. In addition,  
            the bill allows for the offering of food to homeless persons  
            in a public space. If, as a result, significant numbers of  
            homeless persons were to sleep and/or be fed in public spaces,  
            the fiscal impacts on cities and counties would be significant  
            in terms of public health, sanitation, and public safety. 


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           1)Purpose  . According to the author, no state law defines a  
            uniform standard protecting basic civil rights of our most  
            vulnerable citizens. The author asserts that numerous laws  
            "infringe on poor people's ability to exist in public space,  
            to acquire housing, employment, and basic services, and to  
            equal protection under the law. The Homeless Person's Bill of  
            Rights and Fairness Act is a response that can help alleviate  
            poverty and homelessness while protecting people from  
            discrimination and ensuring a right to privacy and personal  

            The author contends that cities have enacting "quality of  
            life" or "anti-nuisance" ordinances, mainly targeting the  
            homeless, which "criminalize sleeping, sitting, and even  
            food-sharing in public spaces. Just like discriminatory laws  
            from the past, they deny people their right to exist in local  
            communities." This bill is sponsored by the Western Center on  
            Law and Poverty, JERICHO, and the Western Regional Advocacy  
            Project. The sponsors indicate that, with investments in  
            affordable housing decreasing significantly over the last 30  
            years, there has been an "uptick in laws that make it illegal  
            to be poor and homeless in public spaces." 

            The East Bay Community Law Center adds, "We have seen  
            firsthand the trend toward criminalization of homelessness,  
            and its ill effects. Our clients are charged with trespassing  
            for standing on a public sidewalk, while nearby housed people  
            are - unsurprisingly - not cited. AB 5 would prohibit that  
            kind of selective enforcement?AB 5 would curtail the  
            government resources spent on giving homeless people citations  
            they cannot afford to pay for acts that should not be criminal  
            to begin with, and will thereby reduce jail and court costs  
            that our state can ill afford to pay."

           2)Opposition  . This bill is opposed by many local government  
            entities, including numerous individual cities, and by  
            business groups. The League of California Cities, California  
            Downtown Association, and California Special District  
            Associations jointly state, "We recognize the  
            interconnectedness of safe, decent, and permanent housing when  
            addressing other needs of California's homeless population,  
            such as mental health or substance abuse treatment, and  
            unemployment. However, any solution must strike a balance  


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            between promoting health and safety for all residents and  
            respecting the local designation of resources. Unfortunately,  
            AB 5 would create costly mandates, blur the line between local  
            jurisdiction authority, and undermine the local decision  
            making process."

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Chuck Nicol / APPR. / (916) 319-2081