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Carlos Mendoza, owner of Bird Dog Cards and Comix in Fresno, said his store has had three breaks in the span of one year, resulting in about $10,000 in losses. Photo by Frank Lopez

Published On April 18, 2024 – 3:02 PM
Written By Frank Lopez


The Californians for Safer Communities Coalition announced Thursday that its Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act gained 900,000 signatures, which would qualify it for the November ballot.

The signatures will next go to the Secretary of State’s office to be verified.

The threshold for a petition to be officially put on the ballot is 546,000. 

The measure would change Proposition 47, which made non-violent property crimes where the value does not exceed $950 into misdemeanors. It also made some simple drug possession offenses into misdemeanors.

Supporters of the bipartisan Homelessness, Drug Addiction, and Theft Reduction Act said it would institute added accountability for repeat theft offenders and traffickers of drugs including fentanyl.

It will also incentivize individuals to participate in and complete drug treatment programs.

Fresno Chamber of Commerce CEO Scott Miller said a lot of California residents, including business owners, want more accountability for repeat offenders and to reduce homelessness in communities.

“Business owners are frustrated,” said Miller, who also owns Gazebo Gardens in Fresno. “The passage of prop 47 has created a situation where vulnerable populations of people who are trapped in the cycle of addiction, who then are almost incentivized to do crime against small businesses.”

According to statistics in the act, since the passage of Prop 47 in 2014, the homeless rate in the state went up by 51%, while in the rest of the nation, it declined by 11% in that same period.

The petition to amend the law calls for repeat thieves to be eligible for felony prosecution, allow treatment-mandated felony prosecutions for third time hard drug convictions and tackle the fentanyl crisis by going after fentanyl dealers.

It will also add measures to address “smash and grab” thefts that cause losses and damages, or that are perpetrated by a group of thieves working together.

Carlos Mendoza, owner of Bird Dog Cards and Comix in Fresno, said his store has had three breaks in the span of one year, resulting in about $10,000 in losses The store has been in business for about a year and a half, he said.

To prevent more theft, he installed an $8,000 retractable gate.

“We took a big hit. We still haven’t recovered to this day,” Mendoza said.

The act will also permit judges to sentence drug dealers to state prison instead of county jail after a drug trafficking conviction in large quantities, or if they are armed with a firearm while drug trafficking.

Clint Olivier, Central Valley Business Federation CEO, said the petition is the product of a grassroots movement as more people become fed up with leadership in Sacramento. Locally, organizations hosted drive-thru events for voters to sign the petition.

He said Californians are used to a very high quality of life and pay a lot for it.

“People are frustrated because they have to pass the costs on to their customers. They have encountered a real lack of interest from leadership in Sacramento,” Olivier said.

Olivier is confident Californians will vote in favor to the make changes to Prop 47.