Answering back, a City library official noted libraries serve everyone, adding enforceable regulations provide security for all while punishing violators.
“The Pacific Beach Library recently changed their rules to better accommodate the homeless population,” said PB entrepreneur Mike Spangler. “The previous ‘code of conduct’ specifically prohibited sleeping and resulted in expulsion.
“They have relaxed that policy and replaced it with ‘Interfering with another person’s use of the library, or the library staff's performance of their duties including disturbing, offending, intimidating, annoying or harassing of others or engaging in any disruptive or unsafe behavior,’” Spangler said.
Misty Jones, San Diego Public Library director, defended the library system, its mission, and policies.
“We are a public building serving everyone regardless of their circumstances,” said Jones. “We have a code of conduct across-the-board for everyone. You can’t be under the influence. You can’t interfere with other library users or staff doing their jobs.”
Jones added the homeless are not singled out because “targeting one specific population is discrimination. We make sure the rules apply to everyone.”
But some residents, like PB Neighborhood Watch block captain Racheal Allen, feel the homeless situation at the Pacific Beach Library has gotten out of hand.
“The library has turned into a homeless shelter and is no longer an establishment dedicated to higher learning, families, children, studying or education,” Allen said. “The library welcomes the homeless population and recently relaxed their no-sleeping policy.”
Head librarian Jones said it’s tough to regulate sleeping at the library.
“It’s very difficult to enforce across-the-board equitably,” she said, noting, “if sleeping were strictly prohibited, toddlers would be removed for falling asleep, or teenagers, or 80-year-old men who fall asleep reading the newspaper.”
Henish Pulickal, chair of Pacific Beach Planning Group, fears for his family’s safety.
"I think the homeless at the library is a real problem,” Pulickal said. “It is a serious inhibitor for many families who live in the area from using the facility because of how uncomfortable it is to step over the homeless on the exterior of the property, deal with them on the inside, and share bathroom facilities that are being used as showers.
“I know personally that my wife and many of our friends with kids won't go to the library because homeless people have effectively taken over the area. They end up driving to Clairemont or Point Loma to use those libraries," Pulickal said.
Among actions prohibited in all City libraries:
• Smoking, vaping, eating or bringing in open containers and sleeping bags, bed-rolls or blankets.
• Bringing in animals other than service animals.
• Coming into the library without shoes/shirt.
• Using mobile devices at a volume that disturbs others.
• Distributing handbills or flyers or soliciting signatures.
• Possessing weapons of any kind, even those licensed or permitted.
• Interfering with another person’s use of the library, or the library staff’s performance of their duties.
• Leaving a child under the age of 8 unattended.
• Bringing any containers, packages, briefcases, parcels, or bundles into the library, which singly or collectively exceed 24 inches by 18 inches by 6 inches. All items not prohibited are subject to inspection.
• Bringing shopping carts or wheeled conveyances into the building, with the exception of wheelchairs and baby strollers/carriages.
Jones said all City library staff now receive mental health-aid training to teach them “how to recognize the signs of mental illness and how to interact, or intervene to de-escalate situations until help arrives.”
The head librarian said security has been beefed up at Pacific Beach Library via addition of a second security officer to patrol the passive park outdoors.