El Cajon's ordinance against "food sharing" in public spaces

Twelve people are looking at misdemeanor charges for handing out food to homeless people in El Cajon over the weekend.

Homeless advocates and volunteers showed up to Wells Park to hand out food, toiletries, clothes, and shoes. El Cajon police cited each person handing out food because they were in violation of the city's ordinance against "food sharing."

El Cajon municipal code 1.28.010 prohibits anyone from giving food to homeless people in public spaces, including city parks.

Last October, the city of El Cajon passed the food sharing ordinance as a way to combat the homeless problem and stop the deadly spread of Hepatitis A.

El Cajon Councilman Ben Kalasho told NBC 7 San Diego in November:

"What we're saying is feeding them at city parks is a bad idea given the situation that we're in with the hepatitis A outbreak, and the fact that it makes the place completely messy afterward. You can go out there, pick them up, take them back to your house and feed them and board them and room them and have them take a shower if you're really wanting to help."

The city also told NBC 7 that the ordinance is supposed to be temporary until San Diego County lifts the Hepatitis A emergency health declaration.

Councilman Ben Kalasho joined us this afternoon to talk more:

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