Lot O has multiple lots and is located behind the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park on May 8, 2023. Mayor Todd Gloria believes the lots could temporarily house as many as 400 people.
Lot O has multiple lots and is located behind the Naval Medical Center in Balboa Park on May 8, 2023. Mayor Todd Gloria believes the lots could temporarily house as many as 400 people. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

We’ve been talking about the city of San Diego’s homelessness crisis for a while now. 

And this week, we got some news. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and other city officials want to convert two lots at the edge of Balboa Park into safe campsites for unhoused residents.  

Here’s where: One lot is a maintenance yard, which officials expect to be in operation by July. And a vacant lot known as Lot O, or as the locals know it O Lot. That second one could open up in the fall. We made a little map here.  

Remember: I told you about the safe campsite some months ago. Back then, officials were considering Inspiration Point as the location. Balboa Park organizations didn’t like that idea. They didn’t think a campsite for homeless people would be appropriate in the city’s Crown Jewel because, “Inspiration is really the front door to Balboa Park.”   

The conversation around a safe campsite is closely tied to a proposed ordinance that would also make it easier to crackdown on homeless camps.  

Lisa Halverstadt reported that the mayor hasn’t always been a fan of safe campsites. He wasn’t thrilled about a similar concept that floated around in early 2022. But he acknowledged that he has changed his mind.  

Here’s what the mayor told Halverstadt: “I’ve had reservations about a safe sleeping approach … But much like I’m asking unsheltered individuals to avail themselves of the options that are provided, I have to hold myself to the same level, and say OK, this is not ideal, but it’s better than what’s out there and we have the ability to move and make this possible and we’re gonna do that.” 

Read more about the latest proposal here.  

What Did it Take for National City to Scrap its Cruising Ban? Elections, One Councilman Said  

Whistle Stop Bar in Greater Golden Hill on Wednesday, May 10, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

National City Councilman Marcus Bush was ready to chismear this week when he joined us on the VOSD Podcast.  

I’ve told you before that the city struggled for years to lift its ban on cruising.  

National City adopted its cruising ban in 1992. At the time, business owners raised concerns about weekly events that drew car clubs to the city, which drained police resources and created heavy roadblocks. Opponents of the law argued the law was mostly used to target Black and Latino drivers.  

The city’s police department hadn’t enforced the law in years. And a group was working with the city to lift the ban, but the effort became increasingly tense.  

As I reported in the fall, some city leaders failed to separate the law from concerns over large, organized events. But last month, the city finally lifted its ban.  

At our live VOSD Podcast recording sesh this week, I asked Bush how they finally untangled the conversation and lifted the ban.  

“How we got past that … was an election,” Bush said.  

Marisa Rosales drives her 1949 Hudson Commodore in National City on Oct. 7 , 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Bush said former National City Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, former Councilwoman Mona Rios and former Councilman Ron Morrison were the ones standing in the way. The conversation changed when the remaining council members had the votes, and Morrison, now mayor, changed his mind.  

More chisme: We hosted our podcast live at Whistlestop Bar in front of many loyal pod fans. We talked about homelessness and other hot topics. Bush joined us to talk about what National City is doing to address homelessness, and the MTS and Nathan Fletcher scandal. San Diego Loyal Soccer Club President Ricardo Campos also joined us. He shared some sports chisme.  

Listen to the full episode here.  

BTW: It was great meeting so many of you and hearing that some of you read Cup of Chisme every week. Email me if you have any ideas for this newsletter. Reach me at andrea.lopez@voiceofsandiego.org 

More Chisme to Start Your Week  

  • Voice contributor Kelly Davis had a new story on the city’s police oversight commission. The group has struggled to get up and running. And now the latest challenge is having enough members to function. Read the story here. 
  • Tigist Layne had a fantastic story about a housing project in Del Mar that is testing the state’s housing law. Basically, a developer is proposing a project and the city doesn’t like it. A lot of people have written about the project, but Layne explains how significant it really is, because if the city continues to oppose it, the dispute could be decided in court. Read about the project here.  
  • Ariana Drehsler captured some powerful images of asylum-seeking migrants who have spent days between two border walls, waiting to be processed by immigration officials. Take a look here.  

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña

Andrea Lopez-Villafaña, Managing Editor, Daily News Andrea oversees the production of daily news stories for Voice of San Diego. She...

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