Berman Responds to Changes to Safe Lots Bill
SACRAMENTO – Assemblymember Marc Berman (D-Palo Alto) released the following statement today in response to amendments that were made to AB 302 in the Senate Appropriations Committee:
“I was sad to see the details of the amendments that were forced into AB 302 by the Senate Appropriations Committee, which indicate a lack of urgency in addressing the community college student homelessness crisis in California and unnecessarily further a stigma that prevents them from seeking help.
“Though neither a permanent nor perfect solution, AB 302 would have, in its previous form, provided meaningful security for thousands of homeless community college students whose only reliable shelter is their car. Without a safe place to go at night, these students are forced into dark alleyways and industrial parks, where they are most vulnerable to harm.
“The recent amendments to dramatically weaken the opt-out provisions and delay implementation an additional 15 months weaken the bill to the point that it fails to address the reality that our students are facing today.
“Even worse, the amendment to exempt community colleges located within 250 feet of an elementary school is detrimental to our efforts to encourage these homeless students to seek help. Homeless students are not pedophiles that need to be kept away from children. They are men and women – many of them barely adults themselves – who are trying to improve their lives by obtaining a better education. They should be celebrated, not stigmatized.
“I am also unaware of any elementary school students attending school between 9pm and 7am, which is when Safe Lots programs typically operate.
“Therefore, I have decided to make AB 302 a two-year bill. I plan to spend this fall working with the governor’s office to identify ways to more urgently alleviate the struggles that our community college students are facing every day, in a way that treats them with the dignity and respect they deserve.”
Contact: Kaitlin Curry, (916) 319-2024