Tents where unsheltered San Diegans live line the street outside the shuttered California Theater on Sept. 2, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego
Tents where unsheltered San Diegans live line the street outside the shuttered California Theater on Sept. 2, 2022. / Photo by Peggy Peattie for Voice of San Diego

For the sixth time this year, downtown San Diego in November set a monthly record for the number of homeless residents living on its streets.

There were 1,706 unsheltered people living downtown and its outskirts last month, the highest number recorded in the last 10 years by the Downtown San Diego Partnership’s monthly count.

When the year started, that count had never surpassed the 1,415 homeless residents in December of 2016. But this year the city surpassed that record in February, then re-set the record again in April, and again in August, and again in September, and again in October, before reaching the new high last month.

The downtown count is a noisy data set. The organization’s count of homeless people downtown fell from over 1,400 in June to just over 1,200 in July, then shot up above 1,600 in August, fluctuations that probably don’t reflect the true change in the homelessness crisis over such a short period.

But the overall trend is unmistakable: downtown homelessness is the worst it’s ever been, with no sign of improvement. On average, with one month to go in the year, there have been 54 percent more unsheltered people downtown in 2022 than there were in 2021, and 38 percent more than in the previous worst year on record, 2016.

With such a pronounced increase in the size of downtown’s homeless population overall, it’s probably no surprise that the number of tents counted downtown and in the surrounding area is also at an all-time high. The Downtown Partnership tallied 585 tents downtown last month. In November of last year, there were 297 downtown tents, good for a 96 percent one-year increase.

Upscale Resort Golden Door Buys 2,000 Acre Development Voters Rejected in 2020

The Golden Door Spa announced via press release Thursday that it had purchased the Newland Sierra property, 1,988 rural acres that developers tried for years to build more than 2,000 homes on.

That dream officially died, again, in March of 2020, when county voters rejected the project after the County Board of Supervisors had initially approved it. The Golden Door Spa, an extremely high-end resort and neighbor that’s primary asset is tranquility, led the charge to kill that project.

Now that the project is gone, Golden Door says the land will be preserved for “environmental stewardship” going forward.

At the same time voters rejected the Newland Sierra project, they also rejected a ballot measure that would have barred the County Board of Supervisors from approving such projects through what are called “general plan amendments.”

Even though voters wanted to preserve elected officials’ right to approve spot projects and change county growth plans, Board Chair Nathan Fletcher said it’s clear that the old business of sprawl development in the unincorporated county is over.

“This should close the chapter on the era of wasted time and energy around the fiscalization of land use, to try and build expensive housing in high fire areas that would explode our greenhouse gas emissions and destroy vital habitats, and usher in the era of building affordable housing closer to transit and transportation,” Fletcher said.

Fiscali-what? By fiscalization of land use, Fletcher is talking about the practice of developers buying land that is zoned for low density (and thus has a price that is low and reflects what can be built on it) and then working with lobbyists (or later campaign consultants) to change the zoning and suddenly realize a major gain the value of the land owned.

What’s next: It remains to be seen whether some of the energy that went into building suburban sprawl development will transfer to in-fill development. Is the same capital available to make the investment in urban areas that was available for these projects? With interest rates skyrocketing, it certainly doesn’t look like it in the short term.

We Have Two Winners in the Elections Contest

Few outcomes of the election are more anticipated than this one, the declaration of the winner of the Voice of San Diego Elections Contest.

Ron Donoho, and Michael Jalkio both just missed two of the answers in the Elections Contest this cycle.

Donoho is a veteran San Diego journalist. He was an editor at San Diego Magazine and CityBeat and he now runs the San Diego Sun, a news site on downtown happenings

Jalkio is a data engineer working on data privacy at Meta. He tells me he has biked or run one-third of the roads in the city of San Diego — 1,442 unique miles.

This contest is for the real ones.

Lots of entrants missed the Chula Vista mayor’s race and over-estimated Measure C’s chances. Measure C won and, assuming the city can withstand a new legal challenge, the height limit in the Midway area will be lifted allowing the Sports Arena redevelopment and much more to be done. But it didn’t win by nearly as much as most of you thought it would.

Donoho missed on the sheriff’s race and Chula Vista’s mayoral race. Michael missed on Chula Vista and Measure C.

Here are the final outcomes:

1. Sheriff: Choose OVER or UNDER for Kelly Martinez at 53.5 percent. 

Answer: Over

2. Assessor/Recorder/Clerk: Choose OVER or UNDER for Jordan Marks at 52 percent.

Answer: Under (but he still won)

3. Chula Vista Mayor: Choose OVER or UNDER for Ammar Campa-Najjar at 52 percent.

Answer: Under

4. National City Mayor: Choose OVER or UNDER for Ron Morrison at 30 percent.

Answer: Over (and it looks like he barely won)

5. San Diego City Council District 6: Name the winner between TOMMY HOUGH and KENT LEE.  

Answer: Lee

6. Measure B – Trash: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes on B at 53.8 percent.

Answer: Under (but it still won)

7. Measure C – Midway Height Limit: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes on C at 53.53 percent

Answer: Under (but it still won)

8. Measure D – PLAs: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes on D at 58.09 percent.

Answer: Under (but it still won)

9. Measure U – SD School Bond/Tax: Choose OVER or UNDER for Yes on U at 65.08 percent.

Answer: Over

10. SD Unified School Board: Choose OVER or UNDER for Becca Williams at 44 percent.

Answer: Under (barely! 43.82 percent)

11. Senate District 38: Name the winner between CATHERINE BLAKESPEAR and MATT GUNDERSON

Answer: Blakespear

12. 49th Congressional District: Choose OVER or UNDER for Mike Levin 51.5 percent.

Answer: Over (52.6 percent)

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you have any feedback or ideas for the Politics Report, send them to scott.lewis@voiceofsandiego.org or andrew.keatts@voiceofsandiego.org.

Andrew Keatts is a former managing editor for projects and investigations at Voice of San Diego.

Scott Lewis oversees Voice of San Diego’s operations, website and daily functions as Editor in Chief. He also writes about local politics, where he frequently...

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  1. LMAO!!! And there is not one single homeless at my second home in France! I ran for Council except all of you great Americans are better than me! Why don’t you show me the goods, citizens of San Diego? Because you have no spine!

  2. Hoping someone close to Mayor Todd and Guv Newsome would reach out and explain to them that the million of tax $$$ spent on the homeless is to GET RID of them , not recruit them from other states.

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