Progressive California Mayors Rally to Amend Controversial Crime Laws and Address Soaring Drug Use and Theft

SAN FRANCISCO, California – Progressive mayors in California are supporting a campaign to amend a decades-old state law that critics argue has emboldened criminals. Proposition 47, a law passed in 2014, downgraded penalties for petty theft and drug possession, reclassifying them as misdemeanors. Under the law, even multiple offenses of petty theft below $950 are considered misdemeanors. Additionally, many narcotics possession offenses that were once felonies were converted to misdemeanors.

A new ballot initiative called the Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act aims to amend Proposition 47. The measure has garnered support from both Democrats and Republicans in California, and nearly 70% of the required petition signatures have been obtained to include it on the November ballot.

San Francisco Mayor London Breed and San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, both progressive Democrats, have endorsed the campaign. Breed, who initially supported Proposition 47, has witnessed unintended consequences as she tries to address illegal drug use and theft in her city. She expressed concern that when there are no real consequences for crimes committed in the city, it becomes a significant problem.

Greg Totten, co-chair of Californians to Reduce Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft and CEO of the California District Attorneys Association, emphasized that Proposition 47 was intended to drive more treatment and less jail time. However, he noted that while fewer offenders have been incarcerated, treatment for drug offenders using hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, PCP, and fentanyl has significantly declined.

The public sentiment in California reflects a growing frustration with rampant open-air drug use, homelessness, and theft. An Axis Research poll conducted in November showed that around 70% of Californians are likely to support the measure amending Proposition 47.

Critics argue that Proposition 47 has become a major consumer protection concern, as crime rates rise and businesses close due to theft and other criminal activities. O.H. Skinner, executive director for the consumer advocacy group Alliance for Consumers, contends that it is challenging for consumers to feel safe when faced with the threat of theft and break-ins. He warns that some California communities may soon experience a depletion of retail stores.

The campaign to amend Proposition 47 aims to address these concerns and provide Californian consumers with the opportunity to voice their opinions on the consequences of the law.