San Francisco Will Crack Down on Public Camping After SCOTUS Decision

The Supreme Court’s ruling in Grants Pass v. Johnson is having reverberations across California cities and counties.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced Friday that the city would get tougher about enforcing public camping restrictions, including penalizing unhoused people who refuse shelter.

“We’ll be able to impose citations. We’ll be able to impose penalties. And things can be aggressively worse as time goes on, in terms of when we’re offering services, we can impose some significant penalties,” Breed said

As for whether the city will try to jail people who refuse services, Breed said “we are having discussions about what that would entail right now.”

The Grants Pass v. Johnson decision was issued on June 28 by the U.S. Supreme Court. In a 6-3 vote, the court ruled that localities can enforce of anti-camping ordinances regardless of available shelter. The decision effectively overturned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling in Martin v. Boise. Contrary to Martin, the Supreme Court determined that anti-camping enforcement does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s “cruel and unusual punishment” clause.

A December 2022 injunction barring San Francisco from carrying out encampment sweeps was vacated by the Ninth Circuit Monday as a result of the SCOTUS ruling. 

Want to learn more about the Grants Pass decision and what it means for California? Attend our free webinar on Wednesday, July 10 at 11:30 AM PST. We’ll be joined by experts Joan Cox and Tamar Burke from California's premier public law firm, Burke, Williams & Sorensen. Register here!

This article has been updated.