SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California Gov. Gavin Newsom said Tuesday the state will intervene in a case ongoing federal court proceedings That prohibits San Francisco from cleaning out homeless encampments until more shelter beds are available. The judge went too far and prevented the state from solving a critical problem.
“I hope this goes to the Supreme Court,” Newsom said. “And that’s a damn good statement from a progressive Democrat.”
Newsom made his comments during an interview with Politico in Sacramento. He had previously expressed sharp criticism in an interview with US judge Donna Ryu San Francisco Chronicle but had not disclosed his administration’s plan to file an amicus brief in support of the city’s efforts to overturn the ruling.
Ryu issued the injunction in December after homeless advocates argued that the city violated the law by clearing homeless encampments without offering them shelter and improperly discarding people’s belongings, such as cellphones and medications.
Her decision was rebuked by Democratic leaders in San Francisco argued in court last month for an overturning of the decision. They say the ruling has made it nearly impossible to clean up the city’s streets and has resulted in more people being denied shelter even when it is available.
Newsom, the former mayor of San Francisco, said he personally worked to clean up three encampments near San Francisco but that his staff blocked him from cleaning up a fourth because of a court ruling. More broadly, Newsom said federal judges are ruling with a “perverse interpretation” of a court ruling from a case in Boise, Idaho, that says cities can’t prosecute people for sleeping on the streets when they have nowhere else to go.
“I think they went too far,” he said.
California is home to about a third of the country’s homeless population, which is an issue that has plagued Newsom since he took office. Newsom claimed his administration had spent billions to clean streets and house people, but acknowledged how persistent the problem was.
“Human lives are in danger; “It is unacceptable what is happening on the streets and sidewalks,” he said. He added: “We are all complicit now, at all levels of government and all branches of government.”
In the wide-ranging interview, Newsom reiterated his support for Democratic President Joe Biden’s re-election. He has repeatedly stated that he does not plan to challenge Biden or run for president, but instead travels around the country as Biden’s surrogate. He also raised money and campaigned alongside Democrats in Republican-led states, a move that also serves to build his nationwide network of political support.
Newsom also said he plans to travel to China in the coming weeks to discuss joint efforts to combat climate change. He did not provide any further details about the trip.
Newsom was asked about newly announced efforts by Silicon Valley billionaires build a new city between San Francisco and Sacramento. He said project leaders need to regain the trust of officials if they want to move forward after keeping the project secret for years as they bought up vast amounts of land in Solano County.
“In my opinion, they are catching something back because of all the intrigue and questions that their secrecy creates,” Newsom said. “So there’s a lot more doubt now and a lot less trust.”
He added that people were asking him, “What the hell is going on?” and that he found out who was behind the project just minutes before the New York Times reported it.
He declined to comment on the content of the proposal, saying he would meet with one of the project’s representatives next week, although he did not say who.
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