Trump Blasts California’s Homelessness Crisis, Pollution

October 3, 2019 Updated: October 9, 2019

President Donald Trump has said that California-based Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, and Gov. Gavin Newsom, are impeding improvements to infrastructure, environmental concerns, the growing homelessness crisis, and more, during a press conference at the Oval Office on Oct. 2.

The president said politicians should focus on what’s going on in their own backyards instead of spending their time on impeachment “nonsense.”

“We have to go back to building our country because 99 percent of Nancy Pelosi’s time is spent on [impeachment],” Trump said in response to a reporter’s question on the so-called “whistleblower complaint” controversy that Democrats have said are grounds for his impeachment.

Pelosi held her own press conference on Oct. 2, where she accused the president of “undermining our national security, undermining his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution … [and] undermining the integrity of our elections.”

“They’ve been trying to impeach me from the day I was elected. I’ve been going through this for three years … and you know what? They failed,” Trump said in response to the accusations.

“[Pelosi] should focus on her own district. Do you see what’s happening to her district? We call it tent city. It’s terrible.

“In fact, we just sent a violation to the City of San Francisco—unsafe water, unsafe conditions.”

Referring to the recent action the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has taken in California, Trump said, “The EPA is doing a great job,” despite backlash from opponents.

“There’s needles and drugs all over the street. There’s tents. There’s people that are dying in squalor in the best location in San Francisco. It used to be a great city. Now, you have to see what’s happened to San Francisco,” he said. “You have to see what the Democrats have allowed to happen to Los Angeles—great city.”

In September, the EPA sent a letter (pdf) to Newsom demanding that the state clean up its act when it comes to “piles of feces” on the streets and water pollution. The letter warned Newsom that California may be violating federal water quality laws, and pointed to the state’s failure to deal with the homeless crisis as one of the causes of pollution.

“The EPA is aware of the growing homelessness crisis developing in major California cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, and the impact of this crisis on the environment,” the Sept. 26 letter signed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler states.

“Indeed, press reports indicate that ‘piles of human feces’ on sidewalks and streets in these cities are becoming all too common. The EPA is concerned about the potential water quality impacts from pathogens and other contaminants from untreated human waste entering nearby waters. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and the state do not appear to be acting with urgency to mitigate the risks to human health and the environment that may result from the homelessness crisis.”

The letter lists several violations of the Clean Water Act:

• 67 systems with 194 serious health-based exceedances of arsenic levels, impacting more than 101,000 residents;
• 210 lead action level exceedances in just the most recent 3-year interval at 168 PWSs, impacting more than 10,000 residents;
• Two systems with serious Ground Water Rule compliances, impacting more than 250,000 residents;
• 44 systems with 154 exceedances of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 disinfection byproduct regulations, impacting about 255,000 residents; and
• 25 systems with 69 violations of radiological standards, impacting about 12,000 people.

“Even more troubling is the City of San Francisco’s years-long practice—allowed by CalEPA—of routinely discharging more than one billion gallons of combined sewage and stormwater into San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean on an annual basis,” the letter states.

The EPA demanded a written response from Newsom detailing how the state expects to address these violations within 30 days. The letter also asks for “specific anticipated milestones” for fixing the environmental problems.

The EPA also sent a letter to San Francisco accusing the city of violating the Clean Water Act.

San Francisco city officials responded to Wheeler, saying that claims made by the EPA about its city’s sewer system are not true, according to The Hill. Meanwhile, California politicians argued that the homelessness crisis has not harmed water quality, and homelessness and water quality are unrelated issues.

Recently, the EPA has also put pressure on California legislators to improve air quality, which Wheeler has called the worst in the country.