Statement: “Every single year in eight years that the site was located next to it, we had what are called emergency shutdowns,” City Council President Ben Hueso said Oct. 22 at a City Council meeting about placing a temporary winter homeless shelter near Perkins Elementary School in Barrio Logan.
Analysis: Debating where to put San Diego’s temporary winter homeless shelter has become an annual tradition for the City Council. As the colder, rainy months approach, scores of residents and business owners argue against having the shelter in their neighborhoods.
At a council meeting about the homeless shelter two weeks ago, Council President Ben Hueso joined the fray and opposed putting the shelter at a building in Barrio Logan formerly occupied by the San Diego Housing Commission. He preferred putting the shelter downtown.
Hueso represents Barrio Logan on the City Council and argued that past shelters at the site had regularly threatened and disrupted classes at nearby Perkins Elementary School. Here’s the full context of his statement:
Every single year in eight years that the site was located next to it, we had what are called emergency shutdowns. Emergency shutdowns are if there is a public altercation, the police come and inform the school that there is an imminent danger in and around the city or the school, and what happens, everything is suspended. They suspend education. They suspend whatever is going on in the classroom, whether it is in recreation activity or lunch, they suspend it, and they close down the school.
In an article published Tuesday, however, CityBeat associate editor Kelly Davis debunked Hueso’s description. She asked the city’s former director of homeless services, the school district’s police chief and the elementary school’s principal about past shutdowns. None knew of any that stopped student activities in the classroom.
Fernando Hernandez, the school’s principal, told CityBeat the school “has never had an emergency shutdown.”
We’ve called Hueso’s statement false because it inaccurately described the number of emergency shutdowns and how previous homeless shelters affected classes at Perkins Elementary School.
On Wednesday, the City Council rejected Hueso’s argument and voted unanimously to approve the Barrio Logan site. Hueso joined his colleagues after receiving reassurances from police about the safety of children at the school.
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