If the San Diego City Council approves a proposed ordinance next week, camping will be banned on most public property only if shelter beds are available, though it will be banned at all times in areas including parks and near schools and shelters.
For now, our Lisa Halverstadt writes, shelter can be hard to come by for unsheltered residents who desperately want it. Halverstadt stayed in touch with one man who sought shelter at the city’s Homelessness Response Center for days.
His experience isn’t uncommon. As Halverstadt has previously reported, most shelter referrals by service providers or police don’t result in a person being placed in shelter. Her analysis of San Diego Housing Commission data also showed an average of 23 city-funded shelter beds were available on a typical recent day.
To put that in perspective, the Downtown San Diego Partnership census released Thursday tallied an unsheltered population totaling a record 2,104 in downtown and its outskirts late last month.
Mayor Todd Gloria, who has been rallying for the ordinance, has said the city plans to continue to dramatically ramp up shelter options and officials are set to present a new city shelter strategy before Tuesday’s City Council vote.
Police Weigh In On the Camping Ban
Last year, Mayor Gloria made news with an edict: Police would begin ordering unsheltered people to take down their tents during the day. Police have since been unable to consistently execute – and yet they’ve said they expect to successfully enforce the proposed camping ban.
An assistant police chief spoke with Halverstadt about how the department plans to enforce the ban and why police believe it makes it easier for them to crack down on homeless camps than other city laws already on the books.
On a related note: Police historically haven’t coordinated with city-funded homeless outreach workers to let them know when people they are trying to move off the street may be impacted by enforcement. Outreach workers have long complained about losing contact with unsheltered clients when police crack down.
Gloria spokeswoman Rachel Laing said outreach workers will get a heads up on enforcement if the new ordinance passes.
“Once an enforcement schedule is finalized, the (city’s homelessness department) will communicate to outreach teams in order to work with existing clients in the area,” Laing wrote in an email. “Only after that has been done will (the Neighborhood Policing Division be) given the green light to take enforcement measures using this new ordinance.”
Third Time’s a Charm for Gompers Union Decertification Efforts
After an extended fight, Gompers Preparatory Academy no longer has a teachers union.
In the third vote in nearly five years, which concluded on Tuesday, teachers voted 25 to 17 to decertify the union that represented them – the Gompers Teacher Association. A previous vote to decertify the union had failed. The vote is also the third time the school has flip-flopped on union representation since the former public school transitioned to a non-union charter in 2005.
“Over the past five years, we’ve worked tirelessly with Leadership to support our teachers and students. We are proud of the improvements that we’ve made for staff at Gompers Preparatory Academy,” wrote Vallery Campos, one of the members of the union’s bargaining team. “Ultimately, we respect the democratic process and the outcome of this election.”
Tensions about the charter’s union grew steadily, splitting the charter’s staff. The pro-union contingent argued the union was necessary because low-pay had led to a revolving door of teachers. The union, they said, allowed them to collectively bargain for competitive pay and benefits. Those who opposed the union said it had actually stifled their voices and restricted the flexibility in the classroom.
Cindy Ornelas, a Gompers teacher who opposed the union, said the school will be stronger than before. “Our community, parents and staff want to focus on reuniting and bring back the love and joy we once shared,” Ornelas wrote.
In Other News
- KPBS reports that Metropolitan Transit System board members want to give contractor Transdev an additional $1 million to end a bus driver strike by June 23. The Union Tribune wrote about how the strike has disrupted the lives of South Bay seniors.
- Times of San Diego wrote about a new San Diego Housing Commission pilot program to help people of color who are first- time homebuyers.
- NBC 7 San Diego exposed a loophole in the city’s new vacation rental regulations being exploited by an Ocean Beach property owner who has 114 short-term rental licenses and gave some tenants eviction notices.
- Union-Tribune columnist Michael Smolens broke the news on polling that suggests former mayor Kevin Faulconer may be mulling a run for county supervisor in 2024. (Warning: This one’s only for subscribers.)
The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Jakob McWhinney. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.