Two San Diego Police officers watch as two residents gather up their belongings during a homeless camp clean-up. / Photo by Adriana Heldiz

For years, city homeless camp clean-ups have drawn controversy as tents have increasingly popped up around the city.

On Tuesday, VOSD’s Adriana Heldiz witnessed a large-scale city operation to clean a Midway District homeless camp that has been growing for months.

Heldiz photographed police officers offering homeless residents shelter, before city workers and contractors loaded tents and literally tons of the former belongings of homeless San Diegans into a trash truck. Several homeless residents were cited after rejecting police officers’ offers of shelter.

A city spokeswoman told Lisa Halverstadt that the clean-up effort on Tuesday, which also continued on Wednesday, followed numerous complaints. Last week, spokeswoman Ashley Bailey said, a part of the camp spilled out into the roadway next to a Midway shopping center.

Homeless residents and advocates raised concerns about the two-day operation, including the fact that homeless residents were only given three hours’ notice of the clean-up on Tuesday and Wednesday. An attorney who negotiated a past settlement dictating homeless camp clean-up policies suggested that notice was insufficient given the lack of available city-funded storage for homeless San Diegans in Midway.

The two-day clean-up operation comes months after Mayor Todd Gloria directed city workers to take a more compassionate approach to homeless camp clean-ups.

Bailey emphasized that homeless residents were offered shelter for days before the operation, which she said followed concerns about public health and safety risks tied to the camp.

City workers and contractors cleared six tons of trash and debris on Tuesday alone.

Click here to see Heldiz’s photo essay of the clean-up operation

Qualcomm Has Built a Smart Campus

NBA hall of famer Magic Johnson was at a conference this week hosted by Qualcomm to tout the benefits of using technology in urban centers. Johnson, who co-founded an investment and asset management firm, spoke about the need to close the digital divide. 

That’s not surprising. The really interesting quotes in this Union-Tribune article about the conference came from a Qualcomm executive who identified roads and other public goods as opportunities for revenue-generation. “We are using the technology to solve a problem and that can be monetized by the city so it can be sustained over a period of time,” he said. 

On its own campus in Sorrento Mesa, Qualcomm has rolled out a smart streetlights system and other technologies.

Reminder: San Diego’s smart streetlight system hasn’t worked out so well. The devices became an exclusive tool for police. And the last time we checked, the cameras were still recording, even though officials ordered that the program be shut down.

Heads up: One of our panels during Politifest next month will take a closer look at the promises and realities of smart tech — why it’s so enticing to governments and the risks for abuse. 

More Crosswalks at Balboa Park and a New Urban Design Philosophy

Reader David Peery emailed us to confirm that city officials installed a new crosswalk on the western side of Balboa Park, at 6th Avenue and Nutmeg Street.  

But, as Peery points out, adding the crosswalk represents a change in philosophy for the city. Back in 2011, we wrote about changes to pedestrian accessories on 6th Ave. and the city was not keen on crosswalks at the time. 

Bill Harris, a traffic department spokesman, said the city’s decision to forego crosswalks was a deliberate one, based on traffic engineers’ belief that painting them at those intersections — which lack stop signs or traffic signals — could actually make crossing more dangerous,” we wrote at the time. 

Back in 2011, there were just four crosswalks on the 17-block-long western edge of the park. With the addition of the new crosswalk at Nutmeg, there are now at least seven crosswalks. 

In Other News

  • Millions of dollars remain available for rent relief for Chula Vista residents as the eviction moratorium ends. (Union-Tribune) 
  • San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria was in Washington, D.C., to talk with officials about homelessness, infrastructure, pollution and the lifting of non-essential travel restrictions at the U.S.-Mexico border. (KPBS) 
  • Hat tip to our buddy Sara Libby for pointing out that the San Diego Sheriff’s Department was featured in this New Republic article about police around the country who’ve claimed to overdose on fentanyl merely from handling the drug.
  • One Carlsbad and three San Diego restaurants received Michelin stars. (Times of San Diego) 

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Will Huntsberry and Jesse Marx, and edited by Megan Wood.

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