In San Diego County, the number of homeless deaths has been rising at an alarming rate for the past decade, and it’s outpacing the rate of homelessness.
Last year, an estimated 588 homeless people died in the county. That’s six times higher than 2012.
A couple of months ago, a community of homeless people living on National Avenue lost one of their own – Donald.
Donald’s cause of death is still unknown, but the leading cause of death among homeless people in the county is drug overdoses, specifically from fentanyl use.
Voice of San Diego’s Will Huntsberry spoke to Donald’s neighbors, who were deeply saddened by Donald’s death. But a death in their community is common.
It’s happening all over the county at unprecedented rates.
Not Everyone Can Move Into Shelter
Today, the full City Council will consider Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Stephen Whitburn’s proposal to ban camping on public land at all times near schools, at parks and, perhaps most impactfully, near existing homeless shelters.
The latest count of unhoused revealed an unprecedented number of seniors and people with disabilities living on San Diego streets. For many, living outdoors is a nightmare but existing shelters present other challenges.
That’s led advocates and the unsheltered community to fear what might happen to especially vulnerable people on the street if the City Council approves the camping ban today.
If the City Council signs off on the ordinance as is, it would also ban camping on public property when shelter is available and in sensitive areas – including within two blocks of schools and shelters and in parks – even when it’s not. That means unsheltered people including seniors and people with disabilities will be forced to move even if there’s not a suitable shelter bed available.
Our Lisa Halverstadt reports that Mayor Todd Gloria and other city leaders are pledging to add more shelter options – including two safe campsites for unsheltered people – but it’s unclear whether those services will be suited for people who struggle with existing options.
- Halverstadt has written a series of stories about the potential impacts of the ordinance including how it could affect neighborhoods and how police plan to enforce it. Catch up on those stories here. She also appeared on KPBS’s Midday Edition on Monday to discuss the proposal.
Faulconer – a Potential Supe Candidate – Isn’t a Fan
Former Republican mayor Kevin Faulconer unsurprisingly came out against the proposed camping ban pushed by Democrats Mayor Todd Gloria and Councilman Stephen Whitburn at a Monday press conference.
Faulconer, who confirmed to Voice of San Diego that he’s seriously considering a 2024 run for county supervisor, said after the gathering that the city should add at least 1,500 new shelter beds to allow for more consistent police enforcement and paths off the street for now-unsheltered residents.
Former Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman, meanwhile, argued that the city’s expected inability to supply beds to all unsheltered people in sensitive areas such as near shelters or schools will fuel more community frustration in areas where the city must have shelter to force unhoused people to move.
“If their proposal passes as written, this will literally pit street against street and neighborhood against neighborhood throughout the entire city of San Diego,” Zimmerman said.
Reminder: Faulconer has been working on a ballot initiative that would obligate the city to provide shelter for 75 percent of homeless residents counted in the annual homeless census and mandate that unsheltered people accept shelter offers. Faulconer said Monday that the initiative is on hold until after the City Council camping ban vote.
A Response from Gloria’s Team: Gloria’s office issued a statement emphasizing the hundreds of shelter beds the city has added since he took office in late 2020 and a comprehensive shelter strategy his team is set to present Tuesday to lay out “our plans for the short, medium and long term and demonstrates the diligence and intensity of the city’s efforts to address the crisis.”
“Mayor Gloria has done far more to address homelessness than anyone in our region’s history,” spokesman Dave Rolland wrote in an email.
Providers also opposed: The Housing Federation, an alliance of affordable housing builders, PATH, one of the nonprofits the city relies on to provide outreach and shelter services and the Regional Task Force on the Homelessness issued a rare joint statement opposing the ban.
“This ordinance criminalizes homelessness. It is inhumane and not effective. The city should focus on what we know works: increasing shelter capacity and building and securing more affordable housing,” wrote the coalition in their press release.
San Diego City Council Unanimously Approves Budget
The more than $5 billion budget for the new San Diego fiscal year, which begins in July, was unanimously approved by the City Council on Monday.
Councilmembers made a number of additions, including $3 million to fund the World Design Capital program planning and other efforts, $3 million toward preventing evictions, $1.5 million to make streets safer by fixing the city’s worst intersections and $750,000 for improvements in City Heights and Officer Jeremy Henwood Memorial Park. NBC 7 San Diego has more details.
Environment Report: The Black Flies Are Coming
Some San Diegans fed-up with separating food scraps from the trash, are taking their worries to Nextdoor. They complain about the smell mostly, and the bugs. But it’s going to get worse.
San Diego is about to slip into the heat of summer, MacKenzie Elmer writes. And that means it will be an ideal environment for black flies. Elmer has struggled with the very issue many are complaining about.
In her latest Environment Report she offers up some tips and tricks. Read the Environment Report here.
Oh Hello, Rams Owner, Stan Kroenke
This is the year of big sports investments in San Diego, apparently.
Stan Kroenke, the billionaire owner of the Denver Nuggets, which last night won the NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Rams and several other major sports teams, has announced that he is going to be the primary investor in the Midway Rising project at Sports Arena. Midway Rising won the right to negotiate exclusively with the city to come up with a final plan for the thousands of homes, commercial amenities, parks and new arena on the nearly 50 acres of city land at the site.
A little background: It was Kroenke’s decision to purchase land in Inglewood and first secret, then loud, campaign to move the St. Louis Rams there that provoked the owners of the then San Diego Chargers to openly advocate for a move to Los Angeles as well.
The Rams presented the NFL a vision for Los Angeles and then the Raiders and Chargers presented their own. The NFL owners ended up supporting the Rams’ vision and Kroenke, but gave the Chargers the first option to join them as tenants.
The Chargers pay almost nothing in rent now at the estimated $6 billion new stadium in Inglewood.
NBA or NHL: Keep expectations in check. Midway Rising and their partners Legends, which includes prominent sports owners, plan a 16,000-seat arena they say could accomodate top hockey or NBA teams but those arenas are typically larger than 20,000 seats. Adding that extra 4,000-6,000 seats adds hundreds of millions of dollars to the cost of building arenas and is considered prohibitive for this project.
But Kroenke is not afraid of huge investments. The announcement and press conference notably featured local labor unions and their support.
Join Us in North County
Enjoy a cup of coffee next week with Voice of San Diego’s staff. We will be at Coastal Roots Farm on June 21 at 9 a.m. to discuss North County reporter Tigist Layne’s latest stories and more. RSVP here.
In Other News
- San Diego sheriff’s officials turned over internal records to attorneys representing a handful of media outlets in the county last week. The records contain details of internal investigations into jail deaths and injuries. Sheriff’s officials will likely ask the County Board of Supervisors to appeal a judge’s ruling earlier this month ordering the records be handed over. In the meantime, lawyers from both sides are reviewing the records before they are unsealed. (Union-Tribune)
- Barrio Logan’s long-awaited community growth plan has been approved by the California Coastal Commission, but it’s requiring some modifications that the city may continue to push back on. The plan aims to improve public health in the city by separating residents from the nearby pollution-heavy shipping industry. The commission wants the plan to require affordable hotel requirements, a concept the city has disagreed with in the past. (Union-Tribune)
- After nearly a year of negotiations, the members of San Diego Unified’s teachers union approved a new contract. 98 percent of the union’s members approved the contract, which includes a 15 percent pay raise for teachers spread over two years. (KPBS)
- The New York Times reports that San Diego’s noisy skies could take years off your life. The paper took a look at how noise exposure impacts health and featured a few noisy San Diego neighborhoods, plus a few popular terms: the Point Loma Pause.
The Morning Report was written by Tigist Layne, Lisa Halverstadt, Andrea Lopez-Villafaña and Kathryn Gray. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.