View of the city's 20th and B Street maintenance yard on May 8, 2023, that could become a safe sleeping site for unhoused people. The city previously used the site as a temporary campground during the Hepatitis A outbreak in 2017.
View of the city's 20th and B Street maintenance yard on May 8, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The first of two city-backed safe campsites for homeless residents is set to open this morning.

Mayor Todd Gloria and other city leaders gathered Wednesday to announce the opening of a 136-tent campsite in a city operations yard at 20th and B streets, where the city previously welcomed unsheltered residents during a 2017 hepatitis A outbreak. The announcement came a day after the City Council’s second vote to approve a controversial camping ban, which is now expected to take effect in late July.

What we know: The Golden Hill site will be operated by nonprofit Dreams for Change, which now runs multiple safe parking programs for people living in vehicles throughout the county. City officials said unsheltered people who stay at the campsite – which can accommodate up to two people per tent – will have access to restrooms, meals and mobile showers. Homeless residents will continue to work with outreach workers now assisting them and will be taken to the site by those providers or police. Gloria’s office said on-site workers will transport those staying there to appointments and other activities.

The city plans to debut a second, larger safe campsite in a multi-level lot behind the Naval Medical Center this fall. The site could accommodate up to 400 tents.

Meanwhile … El Cajon Is Watching and Waiting 

The El Cajon City Council decided Tuesday to take a wait-and-see approach before proposing their own unsafe camping ordinance. 

Here’s why: With San Diego’s ordinance likely taking effect in late July and Poway’s proposed ordinance tentatively in August, El Cajon is worried about an influx of unsheltered people moving there. What is more worrisome to city leadership, however, is the threat of legal action. 

Cities wanting to crack down on homelessness encampments must comply with a 2019 federal appeals court ruling that declared it’s unconstitutional to prohibit people from sleeping outside without offering indoor alternatives. Although San Diego and Poway intend to abide by the ruling, there is some ambiguity in this ruling. 

El Cajon Assistant City Manager Vince DiMaggio said both San Diego and Poway have added language in their ordinances to fill in gaps for situations the appeals court decision did not account for. For example, DiMaggio said, San Diego’s ordinance bans camping in open spaces and along waterways even when shelter isn’t available.

In the meantime: For now, DiMaggio suggested El Cajon could use what it can within its existing municipal code – which prohibits camping or sleeping on public property including streets, highways, city parks, playgrounds, the Civic Center, Judson Park and Prescott Promenade – to mitigate a possible increase in homeless people.

The City Council unanimously voted to heed DiMaggio’s suggestion.

North County Report: Natural Gas Ban on Hold

Flames burn on a gas stove on Jan. 17, 2023.
Flames burn on a gas stove on Jan. 17, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

The Encinitas City Council earlier this month suspended its building electrification ordinance – the citywide ban on natural gas in new residential and commercial construction.

The city was the first in the county and the 50th in the state to adopt such an ordinance. Now, though, it’s unclear if it will ever be implemented in the same way again.

Why the sudden change? That’s because of a federal appeals court ruling in April that overturned a similar ordinance by the city of Berkeley.

Berkeley was the first in the U.S. to adopt a ban on natural gas appliances, but the appeals court argued that it was against federal law.

Berkeley appealed that decision and is now waiting for its case to be heard again. In the meantime, Encinitas is taking a step back from its own ordinance, which may eventually become unenforceable. 

Read the North County Report here.

In Other News 

  • Downtown San Diego businesses are fed up with the city’s homeless crisis. The Union-Tribune reports that several businesses have filed a claim against the city and are seeking damages.
  • The U-T’s Adriana Heldiz (and our former multimedia journalist) recently came across a herd of goats in Chula Vista who help keep weeds at bay need transmission powerlines that belong to SDG&E. She got some cool pics here.
  • Times of San Diego reports that SANDAG secured $21.5 million in federal funds for a transportation project in Chula Vista that could address traffic and safety issues with at a rail crossing on Palomar Street.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt, Kathryn Gray and Tigist Layne. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafana.

Join the Conversation


  1. Might be good for us to elect officials who actually think outside the box and don’t lie. thinking outside the box is extremely important. We can’t do things the way we’ve always done things. Our problems are ferocious and different. Therefore, the solution cannot be found in the box, only outside the box; perhaps more actively thinking officials would be good, where is Donna Fry?

  2. My name is jas I am currently homeless on the streets with my husband I stay on national avenue in downtown San Diego and I am against this this ordinance to Ban encampments the supposed safe sleeping lots that have tents on them for the homeless or nothing but FEMA camps I’m sorry but I refuse to go to a FEMA camp when I am 46 years old an adult a mother five grandmother’s one a wife a daughter a sister an aunt somebody’s friend I refuse to go to a female camp I don’t need a curfew I don’t need security watching every move I make what San Diego needs is to build more housing not more shelter beds for the homeless shelter is a step back because what if I go into a shelter and the time runs out and I don’t get my housing yet where am I going to end up right back out here on the streets again so you want to get me off the streets give me my husband off the street into our own apartment not no shelter bed FEMA camp get us into your own apartment that’s what needs to be done more housing not shelter beds but more housing to house us thank you and me God work in these people’s hearts to change their decision for this ordinance because this ordinance is nothing but they’re going against the federal law that Reagan President Reagan and President Bush signed regarding at the homeless is to be left alone and not to be touched and how can you guys make it illegal how people of the Old testament in the Bible lived they lived in tents how can you make that illegal you can’t and you can’t make a way of life that Jesus lived doing Jesus was here on Earth he was homeless also I cannot make that illegal thank you for listening and hopefully he’s will turn around God bless have a good day just a voice of a homeless wife

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