May 17

Facebook Site Features San Diego Homeless

Keep Up With Homeless Issues in San Diego at Michael McConnell’s Facebook Page

A surging homeless population in San Diego is the subject of Michael McConnell’s Facebook Page called Homelessness News San Diego.  He keeps tab of City activities and the relentless drive to “clean up” and move out the hundreds of tent camps in the downtown area.  Surging rents in San Diego, as in other big cities are driving out the working class and young folks who cannot pay the $1800. per month for an apartment while working jobs that are at minimum wage.  This drives them to living in vehicles or worse, living in a tent on the street.  Click Here to view Michael’s Facebook Page.

May 14

Happy Mother’s Day

A Woman on the Street

 

 

I have no family, not even a friend

Some days I think that this is the end

The end of a long time of sadness and grief

I was hoping my spell of bad luck would be brief

It’s been going on now for a very long time

There’s no money left, not even a dime

Who can I trust out here on the street

Can’t even depend on my tired old feet

Very few smiles, no looks in my eyes

They leave me alone, they don’t hear my cries

Not even a soul to say a kind word

Or to sympathize with what might have occurred

I feel so alone, no one helps me out

But isn’t caring what it’s all about?

Even a smile would do very well

To help me get through my Holiday hell

–Anonymous poem sent to us at GC.  Photo by uncle paulie of a homeless

woman in a bank alcove in Studio City, CA.

May 08

The Pavement – London Magazine for Homeless

Magazine in London Helps Homeless With Articles on Where to Get Food and Services

Pavement magazine, 5 year anniversary film from nick aldridge on Vimeo.

WHAT PEOPLE SAY ABOUT THE PAVEMENT MAGAZINE (LONDON)

SERVICE PROVIDERS

“We are always happy to get a call from The Pavement – it’s one way of telling that something we are doing is having a real impact on the lives of homeless people. Plus we rely on The Pavement to help us get news and information about services and issues out to the people most affected.” Alison Gelder, CEO, Housing Justice.

“I have seen The Pavement a couple of times now and am really impressed with the content of it. It contains helpful information for our clients regarding what services are available in the city.” Programme Coordinator, The Salvation Army

READERS

“I think The Pavement is brilliant. To people that don’t know it, I’d describe it as like a mix of Private Eye and the Yellow Pages for homeless people. It’s certainly something that I relied on many times.

“I remember the last time I was homeless, I went to a Day Centre and said it’d been a while since I’d slept rough in the city and needed some information about soup runs. They gave me a copy of The Pavement and that sorted me out.

“I knew where I could go to get food, where I could find day centres and get the help I needed. With a copy of The Pavement in your hand, you can survive.

“Homeless people need The Pavement. It gives us a voice and we don’t have a voice. You don’t hear these stories in the mainstream media. They tell you about Katie Price’s wedding but not about the homeless guy who was stabbed in Blackfriars last night. That’s what The Pavement is for.” Christopher Ubsdell, former rough sleeper

OUR MISSION AND AIMS

The Pavement is committed to publishing independent advice as well as hard-hitting and entertaining reportage, tailored to a homeless readership within the UK via our regional magazines and UK-wide website. We aim to provide and publicise appropriate information that is objective, timely and relevant on a range of advisory and practical services available to homeless people, as well as news on the issues impacting the homeless and dispossessed from across the UK. Our ultimate goal is to help reduce short-term hardship amongst our readers and longer term to provide them with information to enable them to guide their own futures.

The Pavement exists because there was nothing like it, but it fulfils a need.

The Pavement is a small charity, founded in the spring of 2005. We distribute The Pavement in London, Scotland and the West Midlands, and we plan to launch in other regions. In London alone, we deliver 4,000+ copies of The Pavement to over 70 hostels, day centres, homeless surgeries, soup-runs and libraries. By using volunteer journalists and homelessness sector professionals, as well as work from the country’s best cartoonists (many of them Private Eye contributors), we’ve achieved a balance of news, features, humour and service listings unlike other publications.

Our journalists cover the news from the streets or news affecting the streets, and we often deal with topics ignored by the mainstream press. Alongside this, other professionals provide features on health, foot care, legal advice and life in hostels, with the back pages given over to The List, a regularly updated directory of homeless services.

As always, we welcome comment, so do get in contact.

RECENT AND ONGOING CAMPAIGNS

WORD ON THE STREET

The Pavement’s Word on the Street project aimed to empower homeless volunteers to contribute as fully as possible to the magazine. For three months, volunteers with direct experience of homelessness attended workshops, run by media professionals, to help them develop skills in reporting and photojournalism. They were given training in everything from interviewing to computer skills. The team pulled together a very special November 2014 issue of The Pavement, which featured a brand new cartoon strip (1, 2), Heartbreak Hotel, based on their experiences in hostels, as well as a host of first personal pieces. The group will continue to contribute to the magazine, drawing on a growing bank of ideas for articles, and creating podcasts for the website. A short film about the project is in development.

1 Forget Dennis the Menace and the Bash Street Kids… Beano artist’s new cartoon strip stars a homeless Scot (Sunday Herald, 2 November 2014)

2 Karin Goodwin talks about Heartbreak Hotel (STV, 14 November 2014)

THE UK COMMON RIGHTS PROJECT

The UK Common Rights Project allowed homeless people to speak about the lack of those common rights – water, sanitation, food and shelter – the rest of us take for granted. We worked with Housing Justice and Open Cinema to create a hard-hitting report and website, which were launched at the House of Commons. One of the project films won the Best Short Documentary category at the 2014 Moondance International Film Festival in the US. The project was a follow-up to 2010’s Rights Guide for Rough Sleepers, which we worked on with Housing Justice and Liberty.

WHO BENEFITS?

Over 100 charities, big and small, are members of the high-profile campaign that aims to show the reality of the help that benefits provide, why they need it and the difference it makes. Almost a third of homeless people on Jobseekers Allowance have had their benefits sanctioned (cut off), for instance, compared to just three per cent of housed claimants, leading to destitution and desperation among some of the country’s most vulnerable people.

JUST FAIR CONSORTIUM

The Just Fair Consortium monitors the fundamental human rights to food, housing, social security, education, equality, employment and health. Members, who include Oxfam, the Trussell Trust, the Trade Union Congress and Unicef UK, endorsed a common statement of recommendations from the Going Hungry? The Human Right to Food in the UK report. In 2015, the United Nations will review the UK’s human rights record, and the consortium will be part of the reporting process.

American readers can go online to www.thePavement.org.uk to read the current and past issues for free. Be sure to check out their comic strip.  Below are some photos from some of their issues.

Feb 28

Donate toHope of the Valley

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Don’t Discard…Donate!
Donate your gently used clothing and household items to the Mission. We will use your donations to provide clothing to those in need and all proceeds from our 3 thrift stores provide food, shelter, counseling, and care to those who need it more.
Hope of the Valley….Where Everyone and Everything Gets A Second Chance!

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Jan 07

A Visit to Slab City – the Future of Civilization?

Trek to The City on the Edge of Forever

Skip Rorshach Freedman

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I rolled into Niland, California on a lightly-overcast afternoon in the middle of December. The sun is almost set, but there will easily be enough light to get to Slab City and find a suitable spot to camp tonight. The street going east out of Niland [Main Street] is little better than the washboard road that goes out to Area 51, except this is only three miles long instead of fifteen. Driving down this road you begin to get a sense of just how immense this place is. It was originally Camp Dunlap Marine Base from 1949 to 1956 (yes, they tore it down after only seven years), which explains the big concrete slabs that give the place its name. First thing you come to is Salvation Mountain on the right, some guy’s huge multicolored religious monument.

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“The Last Free Place”

 Moving on, there are scores of RV’s, buses, trucks and vans scattered every which way as I cruise along the dusty jarring road. Looks a lot like Burning Man, except people are more spread out here and this desert actually has some vegetation. It’s been called “The Last Free Place”, and there are good reasons for that. It’s around 50 miles southeast of Indio (itself a desolate desert metropolis) out in the middle of the Sonoran Desert and almost at the south end of the Salton Sea. There’s also no electricity [unless you make your own], running water, trash pickup, or restrooms – you pack in everything you need.

Rattling along looking for an out-of-the-way spot, I end up heading off toward the back. There are a lot of packed-dirt trails heading off in various directions. Looks like most of the better-looking vehicles are back here, so this is definitely the place to be. There are quite a few solar cell arrays and wind generators at this end of town as well. I cruise down one path and see a five-foot rise about a couple hundred yards down. The van slips a bit going up, but makes it easily to the level top. There are scrub bushes on either side, with small piles of rusted cans at their base. In fact, there’s trash like that everywhere around here. Most bushes have at least some kind of refuse under them: discarded clothes, cans, plastic bags, or heaven alone knows what.

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Hopping out to stretch my legs, the temperature is in the upper 60’s with low humidity. Nice and quiet, except for about four or five dogs barking in scattered directions. It’s dark in about an hour and the full moon rises in the southeast. Occasional stars peek through the low clouds and a gas generator hums somewhere off to the north. A few campfires are going, which gives a smell of creosote to the air. Some barely audible voices drift through the light breeze, presumably from the campfires. I get back in the van, pop open a can of Ravioli, and watch a movie on the DVD player. After that I drift into a dreamless desert sleep.
………

Just after 7:30 in the morning I wake up to the sound of faint yelling. Cracking open my passenger window, I see some dude standing on a huge raised slab with multicolored grafitti abut a hundred yards away screaming challenges to an unknown person. He’s pacing back and forth, flailing his arms wildly, while pointing out the apparent cowardice of his rival – who appears to be entirely imaginary. Probably acute amphetamine psychosis, a meth-head burnout. Guess he just went off the deep end; isolation like this doesn’t work for everyone. Using the sighting scope, he’s short, a little stocky and wearing an Army jacket – doesn’t even look to be thirty. After about a half hour, his voice starts getting a bit hoarse, so he hops on his bicycle and heads in the direction of town. His manic threats slowly fade out into the crisp morning air.

Welcome to Slab City.

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I have my usual leisurely breakfast while reading several chapters of a book, then get a little writing done on my third book. At 11:00 a pair of fighter jets from the adjacent Marine Base practice bombing runs between Slab City and the Chocolate Mountains to the east. Their sound is trailing them by at least a quarter mile or so. They head north swooping low in formation, pull up in about a 70-degree climb, then loop back the other way. After six of these exercises they fly off to the south. Show’s over.

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I do a little more reading, then head over to Salvation Mountain to check it out in more detail. It’s a huge monstrosity built on the face of what’s essentually a sand dune. Mostly constructed by Leonard Knight between 1984 and 2011 (he died two years ago at age 82), it’s made of large tree trunks, intertwined branches, bales of hay, salvaged metal pieces (mostly car doors), and a lot of plaster. There are multiple rooms and grottoes at the south end. Most of the entire thing is also painted with a couple hundred gallons of salvaged latex paint of various colors. The painting still continues through sporadic volunteers. If I’d planned on hanging around longer, I would have helped out with a brush; but I’m only going to do a day here.

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There are a couple of signs pointing to the library, so I follow them around the back past Camp Goonies (a collective of high-tech tinkerers) and eventually run into an unassuming building a little ways back from the road. At first glance, it looked to be little more than a small shack surrounded by trees, but it’s actually rather sizable. It’s open-ended at two sides and has a motley collection of rug pieces completely covering the sand floor. The precarious bookshelves look to harbor somewhere around a thousand books, by my estimate. I was told by the resident librarian (a way-cool dude whose name I forgot to write down) that it’s the “take a book-leave a book” system. I mentioned the Gypsy Cool website and he said that he’d run into it before. I left them several copies of my books – a lot of folks here could probably use some of the techniques described in them (which were written to help the 99%, and irritate the rest). One thing’s for sure, people definitely have a lot of time to catch up on their reading here. Not much else to do.

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I made it a point to traverse each dusty dirt road in Slab City (there’s eight total, more or less), going past places like the Slab City Hostel, the Live Music place (true to its name), the Sun Works (a solar-related workshop), and the Slab City Christian Club (completely deserted, guess religion isn’t big here). There was every kind of dwelling from simple tents to semi-permanent buildings erected on abandoned concrete foundations. Occasionally, non-functioning vehicles are built directly into these structures. There’s some very inventive construction here using salvaged materials, with a lot of Burning Man influence – except I didn’t see any domes. There were a good number of big fancy RV’s, most likely nomadic Snowbirds from up north.

On the whole, the handful of people I ran into here were reasonably friendly, for California. The younger longhairs were generally more abrasive, but that’s typical these days (Libtards, maybe?). I’d guess the median age this time of year is around 45 or so. Noticed a lot of retirees sitting around in chairs here and there, and saw only two kids. A person would need to be sturdy stock to survive here long-term in these primitive conditions, especially in the summer when the temperature is said to get up to 120 degrees. Definitely count me out on that.

As I was leaving, the old guard shack for the Marine Base had “Caution: Reality Ahead” painted on the side – a very apt reminder. Slab City is definitely a state of mind. What it might lack in overall social cohesiveness, it more than makes up for in personal freedom. And that’s quite acceptable for “The Last Free Place” – probably in this entire oppressive Police State of America. I wish ya’ luck, guys. Let Freedom Ring.

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Jan 05

Garcetti Named Scoundrel of the Year

Mayor Garcetti Achieves Top Honor From Website

“Most Shameful Man In The Realm”

Reports Grow of Holiday Raids on Homeless Camps

Mayor and Council Conducting Cruel Operations Against Poorest Citizens

garcetti-awardThe man who has passed laws infringing on the rights of anyone in a vehicle who is carrying a sleeping bag, blanket, or pillow has been awarded the dubious honor of “Scoundrel of the Year”, by the website of the same name, www.ScoundrelOfTheYear.com.  Garcetti was up against some tough competition, but his achievement in attacking the homeless community, as well as his attempt to abolish a citizen’s right to be secure in their property has made him over the top choice as the jerk of the year.  (Last year’s winners were mostly Republicans like McCain for his despicable give-away of hundreds of millions in minerals to foreign corporations and the Governor of Michigan for the Flint water fiasco.)

Reports of Raids on Homeless Camps coming in.

The fact that Garcetti beat out all other rivals is easy to see.  Garcetti’s henchmen, a task force of cops and City employees are raiding homeless “camps” around the City, sweeping up all their tents, personal items, food, etc. into waiting Refuse Trucks.  Nothing is more pathetic than to see some poor homeless man trying to keep his bicycle from going into a dump truck, or an old homeless woman trying to hang on to her blankets as Garcetti’s henchmen “clean up”.  The fat cats at City Hall don’t have to sleep on the cement tonight.  If they did, they might have a change of tune, like getting some real, basic help for those in need.  Criminalizing the poor seems to be a growing trend and another way for the snarky city officials across the land to turn a profit on the situation.

Another Night on the cold cement.

Another Night on the cold cement. Photo by Uncle Paulie

Jan 02

Now It’s A War on Pillows! L.A.’s Mayor Goes Goofy

New Ordinance Takes Effect January 7, 2017

Thousands Sleeping in Vehicles at Risk for Money-Grabbing Fines

“Get Out of Residential Areas” Says Mayor and Council

Goofy Garcetti Fines up to $75 for having a Pillow in your car!  Is he nuts?

L.A. Mayor Garcetti Leads Attack on Poor.

L.A. Mayor Garcetti Leads Attack on Poor, even outlawing pillows in any vehicle.

The Shameful Actions Against Thousands of Displaced Folks Living in Vehicles

The City of Los Angeles has done it again, launching a new campaign against anyone “dwelling” in a vehicle.  The new Ordinance (Fully reproduced at the end of this article) takes effect on January 7, 2017. It shoves vehicle dwellers out of residential neighborhoods, near parks and schools, and seeks to push them either back onto the street to sleep on the cement, or shove them into “industrial or commercial” areas that are already heavily posted with signs that say “No Parking between 2am-6am”. In other words, making it very difficult to park somewhere just to sleep.  Many of these vehicle dwellers work in low paying jobs and cannot afford the insane high rents in Southern California, hence they live in their vehicles.

Law Applies to Everyone, Even the Thousands of Moms and Pops Visiting Their Kids.

The local efforts to criminalize homeless and poor folks across the State and other states in this Country reveals such a sick situation of conflicting laws that it is amazing the public puts up with these loony politicians.  For instance, with this new law in Los Angeles, relatives who have traveled from afar to visit their moms, dads, or other kin, cannot park their RVs in residential neighborhoods.  Many cities have also banned the parking of RVs in residential driveways.  In some cities, like Burbank, a police permit and fee is required to park an RV anywhere on a city street.  The arriving moms and pops have no idea what a hassle they are in for just coming to Southern California for a friendly visit.

Pasadena Rose Parade Out of Town Visitors Targeted by Cops. 

There is no parking anywhere on any street in Pasadena without an expensive permit only issued to residents.  Imagine the surprise the tourists get who come out from another area to see the Rose Parade. They face tickets and tow.  The rich folks who run Pasadena, the same folks who actually gave their City Manager in effect a lifetime job, really don’t want a lot of visitors, especially ones in RVs.  The thousands of small businesses suffer from a constant loss of business from out of town visitors who are denied a place to park overnight.  Unless you can afford to stay in a $300 dollar a night hotel room.

LA Outlaws Sleeping Bags, Blankets, Pillows, Cooking Utensils, in any Vehicle

The new Ordinance actually prohibits the public from carrying a sleeping bag, pillow, sheet, blanket or other items in your vehicle.  Ironic as the City disaster folks are telling everyone to carry just those things in your vehicle for an emergency, such as an earthquake.  Will the City set up checkpoints around town to search all vehicles for pillows?  The perfidy of the sociopaths who run the City has now hit an all-time high with this one.

The City Does Not Have Even One Decent Solution to the Many Problems of the Poor

Many thinking people and websites have sent in or published solutions to some of the problems.  The City has ignored all of them.  We have proposed safe overnight parking facilities, for instance.  There should also be well placed areas for RVs and Campers to dump grey water and get fresh water.  The City has never tried to even provide adequate rest room facilities for both homeless and tourists,  Much of the low-cost housing that was built for our poor and seniors is occupied by foreign immigrants who never worked a day in their life in this Country.  Another taboo subject not to be mentioned in the hallowed chambers of City Hall. And by the way, we are not talking about Mexicans or Hispanic folks.  We are talking about the many thousands of old people brought in to L.A. County from European, Russian, and Middle Eastern countries and given low cost housing plus benefits for political asylum.  

Not Everyone Sleeping in Their Vehicle is “Homeless

Let’s face the fact that many folks could have reason to dwell in their vehicle.  Folks coming into L.A  to live and work sometimes have to live out of their vehicle until they can even find an apartment and a job. Tourists from around the world travel in RVs and Campers on their vacations.  Seniors who can’t get into the low cost housing that was allegedly built for them are more and more living in their cars because they can’t afford rent. There’s also a growing trend of folks who just want the freedom of living in a vehicle. There’s also the traditional gypsy lifestyle.  And then there’s the 50,000 homeless in L.A  Criminalizing poor people, homeless folks, seniors, visitors, and tourists is a despicable act of cowardliness by the Mayor and  Council.

Below is the Complete Text of the New Ordinance.

 

ORDINANCE NO. 184530 An ordinance amending Los Angeles Municipal Code Section 85.02 to establish regulations governing the use of vehicles for dwelling on City public streets and to provide a sunset of the regulations in 18 months. The City finds and declares the following:

 

WHEREAS, for a variety of social, economic and personal reasons, many people dwell in their vehicles on City public streets;

 

WHEREAS, some people with homes choose temporarily to dwell in their vehicle on public streets because of financial considerations, such as a person catching an early morning flight or train and instead of paying for a hotel room decides to dwell in his or her vehicle overnight on a public street near the airport or train station;

 

WHEREAS, some people have no housing and they believe their safest option for dwelling is in their vehicle on public streets;

 

WHEREAS, substantial public health, safety and quality-of-life concerns are posed by persons who use their vehicles for dwelling on public streets, especially on streets in residential areas or in sensitive areas, such as near schools, day care facilities and parks;

 

WHEREAS, there have been numerous complaints by residents of litter, unsanitary conditions, noise and crime, sometimes resulting in altercations, when persons dwell in their vehicles in residential and sensitive areas;

 

WHEREAS, the conditions described above have resulted in and will likely continue to result in blight, sanitary and public health concerns, excessive noise and crime, not only affecting residents, but also affecting persons who dwell in vehicles and are at a heightened risk of assault, robbery and other criminal activity;

 

WHEREAS, dwelling in vehicles on public streets diminishes the economic viability of the City and its many tourist attractions;

 

WHEREAS, the City has an interest in balancing the needs of those individuals who dwell in their vehicles and the needs of all City residents, businesses and visitors for clean, healthy and safe public areas;

 

WHEREAS, the City’s existing law addressing vehicle dwelling was found to be unconstitutional by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal in Desertrain v. City of Los Angeles; 1

 

WHEREAS, the City currently has no reliable information on the number and location of people using vehicles as dwellings or the impacts to health, safety and the physical environment, if any, resulting from this activity, and is unable to obtain such information from other sources;

 

WHEREAS, the City has reasonably determined that gathering the information necessary to evaluate the impacts to health, safety and the physical environment, if any, due to the use of vehicles for dwelling on public streets will take approximately eighteen months;

 

WHEREAS, the City intends to allow vehicle dwelling in order to gather data and information related to impacts to public health, safety and the physical environment, if any, for use in developing permanent regulations pertaining to the use of vehicles for dwelling on public streets in the City; WHEREAS, the City intends to allow vehicle dwelling only on non-residential streets and on streets that do not have a school, pre-school, day care facility or park;

 

WHEREAS, the restriction on vehicle dwelling regulates the conduct of dwelling in a vehicle on a public street and is not a parking restriction;

 

WHEREAS, the City has determined that the regulations will not result in a serious or major disturbance to an environmental resource;

 

WHEREAS, the City intends to provide public outreach regarding the provisions of this ordinance, including engaging the assistance of homeless service providers such as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority and making publicly available on the City’s website maps identifying streets where vehicle dwelling is allowed;

 

and WHEREAS, the Chief Administrative Officer will coordinate the collection and analysis of data and information by City departments and third party organizations with relevant expertise for purposes of determining the impacts to public health, safety and the physical environment due to the implementation of these vehicle dwelling regulations and will compile the resulting data and analysis into a report with recommendations for action to the City Council and Mayor within eighteen months of the effective date of this ordinance.

 

NOW, THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF LOS ANGELES DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Section 85.02 of the Los Angeles Municipal Code is repealed in its entirety and replaced as follows: SEC. 85.02. REGULATING THE USE OF VEHICLES FOR DWELLING.

 

A. Use of Vehicles for Dwelling Restricted on City Streets. No person shall use a Vehicle for Dwelling as follows:

 

Between the hours of 9:00 P.M. and 6:00 A.M. on any Residential Street; or

At any time within a one Block radius of any edge of a lot containing a park or a licensed school, pre-school or daycare facility.

 

Nothing herein precludes the enforcement of any other laws such as parking restrictions, including, but not limited to, prohibitions on overnight parking.

 

B. Definitions: As used in this section:

 

Block is defined as 500 feet.

 

Dwelling means more than one of the following activities and when it reasonably appears, in light of all the circumstances, that a person is using a vehicle as a place of residence or accommodation:

 

Possessing inside or on a vehicle items that are not associated with ordinary vehicle use, such as a sleeping bag, bedroll, blanket, sheet, pillow, kitchen utensils, cookware, cooking equipment, bodily fluids.

 

Obscuring some or all of the vehicle’s windows. Preparing or cooking meals inside or on a vehicle. Sleeping inside a vehicle

 

Residential Street means any street which adjoins one or more single family or multi-family residentially zoned parcel.

 

Vehicle means any motor vehicle, trailer, house car or trailer coach as defined California Vehicle Code.

 

C. Penalty. A first violation of this section shall be punishable as an infraction not to exceed $25. A second violation of this section shall be punishable as an infraction not to exceed $50 and all subsequent violations of this section shall punishable as an infraction not to exceed $75. Violators may be eligible for referral to a prosecutorial-led diversion program such as the Homeless Engagement and Response Team (HEART). D. Sunset Provisions. The provisions of this section shall expire and be deemed to have been repealed on July 1, 2018, unless extended by ordinance. E. Severability. If any portion, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this section is for any reason held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such a decision shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this section. The City Council hereby declares that it would have passed this ordinance and each portion or subsection, sentence, clause and phrase herein, irrespective of the fact that any one or more portions, subsections, sentences, clauses or phrases be declared invalid.