A homeless encampment near Market Street in downtown San Diego overlooks the I-5 freeway. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

Homelessness is surging in downtown San Diego and the surrounding areas.

Right now, as businesses reopen and the region is slowly recovering from the pandemic, homeless camps are sprouting up on sidewalks and aside freeways.

The issue has now gotten so big that Mayor Todd Gloria is calling it “wholly unacceptable.” And board members of the Downtown Partnership say we are “nearing the crisis level.”

This week on the VOSD Podcast, hosts Scott Lewis, Andrew Keatts and Sara Libby reviewed some of the most shocking data from a new report by Lisa Halverstadt that illuminate the state of homelessness right now, including an estimated 62 percent increase of the homeless population in downtown’s outskirts.

On that front, Gloria and County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher have pledged almost $100 million in new investments by the city and county to try to get a handle on homelessness.

Overseeing the Oversight Measure

Last year, the city voted to approve a measure to strengthen police oversight in San Diego. Now, that measure is in the process of being built into the city in the form of writing a city ordinance.

But not everyone’s in agreement.

Advocates for stronger oversight have flagged issues they have with the most recent version and are expressing worry that the new commission may not have all the powers needed to do the job voters approved. Among the concerns were whether the commission would truly be able to conduct its own independent investigations with broad subpoena power and its own legal counsel.

That ordinance is now going back to the drawing board.

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Nate John is the digital manager at Voice of San Diego. He oversees Voice's website, newsletters, podcasts and product team. You can reach him at nate@vosd.org.

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