Gov. Newsom Signs Bill to Force Troubled Homeless Into Conservatorships

Reflecting frustration over the fact that years of adding resources to fighting homelessness had brought little progress, Gov. Gavin Newsom has signed a bill making it significantly easier for authorities in three counties with 40 percent of California’s population to force the most severely troubled individuals into conservatorships. Those are arrangements in which after judges give their consent, individuals can be compelled to remain hospitalized and receive treatment for addiction, mental illness or both.

Senate Bill 40 was introduced by state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco. It allows the counties of San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego to set up pilot programs under which police, social services and public health advocates can seek to have judges approve conservatorships for individuals after their eighth “5150” or emergency crisis hold within a year. The law sunsets in 2024.

But the driving force behind the concept has been San Francisco Mayor London Breed, who for years has argued that her city needs a more effective way to deal with the relative handful of homeless people responsible for extreme incidents that harm quality of life for city residents and tourists alike.

“We can’t compel anyone to do something if they don’t want to do it,” the mayor told the San Francisco Chronicle last week. “And in most cases, for someone who is mentally ill, they are not accepting what we are offering — which means the conservatorship legislation is going to be very helpful for a small group of those people.”

The ACLU of Northern California — one of the best-funded, most high-profile local ACLU chapters in the nation — strongly opposed the measure, faulting its due-process provisions as inadequate.

Targeted individuals found in need of involuntary detention under the new law would first be given a 28-day housing conservatorship and then six-month arrangements. It provides individuals opportunities to challenge authorities’ decisions in the courts. But the hardline elements of the law were too much for civil liberties groups.

“Fundamentally, care should not begin with handcuffs,” a coalition of groups including the ACLU told Wiener in April.

Counties may not have adequate facilities to use with law

Another sharp criticism was that none of the three counties had adequate facilities allowing authorities to get many troubled individuals off the streets.

Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the San Francisco-based nonprofit Coalition on Homelessness, told Pew’s Stateline news service that “of course there aren’t [adequate resources]. … Look around the city. If there were beds, you wouldn’t see what you see.” Wiener’s law “doesn’t really do anything but sounds good to the public.”

Statistics cited in a recent Chronicle article back up this concern. It noted that two people who were already in an existing conservatorship program in San Francisco were being held inside of a locked hospital ward because of an estimated five-month wait time to get into a residential facility.

Former state lawmaker Kevin Murray, a supporter of more aggressive use of conservatorships with the troubled homeless, last month blasted the city and county of Los Angeles for inadequate facilities. A recent Los Angeles city audit offered similar concerns.

In June, San Diego County supervisors responded to years of criticism over its mental health and homelessness programs by beefing up spending in the 2019-20 budget. While the city of San Diego has won praise for its efforts to provide shelter to the homeless, it’s also been faulted for its sparse options on care for the mentally ill homeless.

This article was originally published by


  1. Normally speaking, if anyone except a Democrat had come up with this, I would say it was probably a good idea, But being aware of the fact that the Democrats are so closely associated with” ulterior motives ” I would run from it like a scalded cat. This is simply a case of the results of the Democrat’s failed policies being dumped in the taxpayer’s lap to pay for.

    • DENNIS WOLLEN says


      • Tell me why you like street people destroying all our cities and their commercial livelihoods? Think of these like the old TB sanitariums. These people are both sick and infectious. Time to isolate them so their sickness does not spread. Just like TB. Because we don’t know how to cure them, so they must be isolated for their own good and for the benefit of society at large.

    • Alan Gervasi says

      Yes, I know! However homelessness has to be solved and damage must be repaired.

    • Mental Health Services Act has been raising billions of dollars over the past 10 years – sure, the government employee unions want this money to create more jobs and more union dues for union bosses.

      But if this finally gets these mental cases off the streets, it is money well spent. Though because the MHSA was a “tax the rich” scheme, it is one more reason for the Top 1% to flee this state.

      Democrat feel-good politics created the mess in the frist place, then blame the rich for not “paying their fair share” to clean up those Democrat ‘social justice” messes. How long will this perverse Democrat formula work?

  2. so…now it’s OK to put people with mental illness’ back in to asylums? do we need to rebuild Agnew’s? back in the day, Dems forced the Repubs to close them all down… -_-

    • No, this is like putting sick people in TB sanitariums. Perfectly appropriate and good for the social justice of the population at large. This is a very welcome step in the right direction. 20% of the vagrant population is causing 80% of the problems for the rest of the community. Why do you want to keep them on the streets?

  3. There’s more to “conservatorship” then hospitals and therapy.
    The state will now control their lives and all resources of these victims of Democrat policies..
    Yep! Dems probably figure they will profit from this.

  4. Too bad they didn’t include SacraMoscow. That way they could have applied the law to the state legislature.

  5. i, too, am skeptical. sounds like a money maker for bureaucrats and attorneys. another “program” funded by taxpayers. detain the homeless and if they want their freedom they can make a contract to improve themselves. maybe this would separate the truly needy from the gamers

    • The Captive says

      Never trust what the Dems. want to do because the lies and misleading actions are what happen first and not the real actions to help the homeless. Think about all the more taxes they can levy and then skim and scam the taxpayers. Then we will read here how much of the accountability is being overlooked and and perhaps never mentioned and we get hit with higher and higher taxes and NO ACCOUNTABILITY! Gruesome NEWSOME will say this and then not tell any truths or facts that we can ever trust. TRUST -TRUTH-FACTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY!

    • DENNIS WOLLEN says

      YOU GOT THAT RIGHT…..The minute any of these homeless are entered into this COMMUNIST program, everything that they may have of any value stashed away will become the property of this communist program portending to pay for their care and whatever else……

  6. Brenda Torres says

    What next, back to Shock Therapy, Lobotomies…

    • If these theraies work for this street population, and they have vastly improved over time so no old jokes about them, why do you want these people to stay sick and deranged on the streets where they are vulnerable and suffer immesely? There is no upside leaving mental cases on the streets. Make your case why you want them to stay there.

  7. Good and about time. That is why we have the public guardians office and conservatorships in the first place. We pay for these services but why wait for 8 incidents to start this process? And why not state wide because now other counties are suffering as the service resistant mental cases move to other counties, up and down the coast. State wide please, and ASAP please.

    MHSA proposition passed 10 years ago has been raising billions of dollars (taxing the rich) to get these people off the streets. Where has this money been going? Why such silence about this proposition – Mental Health Services Act. Voters eagerly passed it yet all we saw as a flood of new street people taking over our state.

  8. I agree. If Newscum and the democrats favor this it’s flawed. I’m for giving the homeless complete freedom. Ninety nine percent are drug addicts. The truly mentally ill need to be taken care of. Sort out the mentally ill, hospitalize them (not a commie idea) and run the rest out of town just like in the old days. Take your crap somewhere else. We won’t tolerate it here. What you tolerate you get more of. Three strikes you’re out. Three emergencies and you go into supervised drug treatment for one year. Supervised drug treatments are used every day and they work. Refuse treatment, head for Oregon or Washington or New York. I’m in my seventies and have seen this solution work time after time. In the old days we called them Hobo’s and watched them ride freight cars from town to town. Now the new “nanny” generation has no clue, flaps their gums, sends texts and Tweets and nothing happens. WAKE UP!

  9. As for why Newscum is doing this it’s really simple. Newscum is a moron puppet. The real money that actually controls our lives and pulls his strings is tired of stepping over feces and needles and are losing money because tourism is down, the problem has made national and international tv and Trump is coming to fix it. Newscum has no choice. He just says “ok ma’am” and signs the document. Move on to his next affair and smiles. Follow the money.

  10. Trump put Newsom on notice – you fix it or I will.

    Then President Trump gets the credit which must have ticked off Gov. Slick Wedding Cake Doll Newsom into action, so Newsom can get credit for cleaning up this mess.

    Thank you, President Trump. You are a man of deeds, even when you still stumble on your words.

    • The way that Newsom has handled this we’ll be spending millions of taxpayer dollars fighting these cases in court and anyone who believes that 99% of these people are drug addicts, get a life. Yes, a large percentage are but at least 1/3rd have truly fallen on hard times. They flock here from other states knowing they’ll get more here than there. I venture to guess that 50% are mentally ill and should be committed, something we used to be able to do here until the legislature changed the law. I believe it was a Democrat legislative body with the power to override a veto and Ronald Reagan was the governor. Regardless, involuntary commitment became illegal, per se, and now we have this mess. For those that need it, commitment is a good thing. For those that fell on hard times, especially those with children, give them a lift up and a second chance. Any drug addicts should be cut off of ALL aide while placed in drug rehab facilities where they will be fed, clothed, medically treated, and rehabbed for employment.

  11. Who will get the tax payers money with this plan? SEIU and other gov employee unions. Doctors, social workers, certain businesses, in the mental health industry, hospitals, group homes, board and care homes. Developers, building new living structures.

  12. citizenkarma says

    The words “handful” “homeless” and “San Francisco” ought never to appear in the same sentence. Moreover, Ms Friedenbach’s comment about more beds being a solution is equally as ludicrous and serves only to strengthen the economic grip the Homeless industry has on SF. The root causes are enablement and drugs. Start there. Enablement and expensive non-effective taxpayer funded treatment will continue to feed the homeless pipeline with drug induced ranting psychos until the enablement and drugs stop.

  13. Whomever controls the homeless folks also have access to the social security number that the vast majority of them have and they also have access to their vote.If every homeless person were a Republican, on election day they would be a Democrat

    • Only in California is “vote-harvesting” legal, thanks to our public employee union dominated super-majority legislature and governor. One more Democrat lock on the system and the voting outcomes.

      Unions have the ground troops and self-interest to find these stray votes, and then cloak themselves with the virtue of increasing voter turn-out. Object to this inherently corrupt practice, and the Democrat union types accuse you of voter suppression.

      If more were genuinely alarmed at the rapid degradation of this state, they can still out vote the unions who now are in firm control. Time to throw tne bums out – anyone with a D after their name. We can out-vote them.

  14. This populaton group falls into three distinct categories:
    1. The have nots – well-supported by current social safety net, these are those “down on their luck” and only temporarily – private and public help id available

    2. The can nots – those with mental issues who cannot live independently – this is the targeted group. Lantermann-Perris Act must be revised.

    3. The will nots – the addicts, the drunks and the free spirits who demand we support them. No, we will not. This is the group causing 80% of the problems. Jail or stop trespassing and camping on public property.

    It is critical we all stop using the term “homeless” because for two of the sub-groups “homes” are not the solution. Lock down state care institutions are the answer for the can nots. Jail is the answer for the will nots.

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