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The City Council unanimously decided to relocate the wintertime homeless shelter after the council member and residents of the newly posh East Village protested the council’s decision to put the shelter there.
As a result, city officials expect the wintertime homeless shelter, which is supposed to open Thursday, to become operable in Tailgate Park in two weeks. Tailgate Park, which serves as a parking lot for events at Petco Park, is also in the East Village, where several high-rise condos have shot up in recent years. But supporters of the switch thought it was a more suitable location.
“Tailgate Park is not a perfect site, but it’s a site that could work for one year,” said Councilman Kevin Faulconer, who said he would be open to constructing a permanent homeless shelter in his downtown and beach-area district.
Several city officials and members of the public who testified this afternoon expressed their desire for a permanent place for a homeless shelter instead of repeating the annual fight over where to locate the shelter come wintertime.
For the past eight years, Barrio Logan leaders have unsuccessfully fought to keep the shelter out of its neighborhood. Despite voting for the Tailgate Park option, Councilman Ben Hueso said he was worried that it was still too close to Barrio Logan, which just two weeks rid itself of shouldering the burden of the shelter.
“You’ll be giving us the same thing you thought you were relieving us of,” said Rachel Ortiz, executive director of Barrio Station, a youth services organization. “Our community is on pins and needles right now imagining it could happen again.”
Others also had concerns. Steve Peace, an executive for John Moores, the Padres team owner, noted that Petco Park is slated for use during a rugby tournament in February. Peace also said that Moores would like a written assurance that a winter shelter won’t be at Tailgate Park past this year, as it could hinder Petco Park’s ability to host the World Baseball Classic in 2009. Major League Baseball will decide the host sites for that tournament shortly, Peace said.