On Monday night, local businessman George Mullen and NBA legend Bill Walton went to Mission Beach to pitch their plan to address homelessness called Sunbreak Ranch. The idea goes like this: Create a camp somewhere far outside of town and concentrate homeless people there. If they refuse, they go to jail.
Before last year, the idea seemed about as likely as a floating airport. But prominent San Diegans have begun signing onto the effort.
Sunbreak “is not location dependent,” Mullen told a crowd of several dozen people Monday. Mullen and company, however, did have their sights set on one location in particular: a 500-acre plot of land at Air Station Miramar.
Just one problem: The Marine Corps is not at all keen on the idea, our Scott Lewis learned.
The land in question contains unexploded ordnance, habitats that support endangered species and live-fire gun ranges, Miramar’s commanding officer wrote to Mayor Todd Gloria in a letter.
The area is also in the Marine Corps flight path. Four planes have crashed there in the last 20 years, the commanding officer wrote.
The letter will come as a blow to Mullen and Walton. They had heady ideas for the Marine Corps’ participation.
Mullen told the crowd Monday, before the letter was released, that he hoped the Marine Corp would build out the land and then “hand us the keys.”
Mullen responded to Marine Corps letter: Late Tuesday he sent over a long comment about how the letter came as a result of Mayor Todd Gloria’s effort to kill the plan and not collaborate on the homeless crisis and the idea was far from dead.
“We are looking at a host of viable locations including Miramar, Otay, and several others. Furthermore, the standard Miramar excuses expressed here don’t even remotely eliminate Miramar. (Think “Duffy Town”.) There are at least 5 separate viable sites within the massive empty unused areas of Miramar that could work. And, of course, the Miramar chain-of-command goes much much higher…”
San Diego Housing News Still Isn’t Good
Housing in San Diego is expensive. That won’t surprise anyone. But August marked a new high for the resale price of homes in San Diego: $958,000.
What’s going on? Experts say a lack of homes is driving the record price. But home sales also hit a decades-long low. High mortgage rates have discouraged people from leaving their homes and just 2,617 homes sold in August, the lowest for that month since 1988.
Though resale data doesn’t include new homes, it underscores a stark reality: there isn’t enough housing in the region. The low supply is driving up prices.
The city has fallen short of its state-mandated plan to build more housing. Last year’s progress report found San Diego issued permits for just 5,033 of the 13,505 homes it would need to stay on track for its 2029 goal of building 108,036 new homes.
That total was typical of the past decade, during which San Diego issued an average of 5,174 permits per year. That means the city would need to kick production into a whole different level to get even close to the amount of homes needed.
The other big housing problem: Homelessness continues to be the number one issue on San Diegans’ minds. But you can’t solve homelessness without more housing.
Gregg Colburn, a professor at the University of Washington, whose book “Homelessness is a Housing Problem,” Scott Lewis wrote about in January, found that a lot of places have large populations with drug problems and mental health challenges or warm weather but only housing costs correlated with homelessness. Areas with either high rents or low vacancy rates – both of which San Diego has had for years – tended to have severe homelessness crises.
More on housing and homelessness: It’s not too late to get your ticket to Politifest 2023. We’ve got a packed schedule with panels about housing production, homelessness and a live podcast recording about housing laws with California Attorney General Rob Bonta and LA Times journalist Liam Dillon. Get your tickets here.
Song of the Week
The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble is a San Diego band through and through. The band’s meaty jams blend funk, soul and psychedelic sounds and evoke, both in spirit and in name, everywhere from Imperial Beach to City Heights to Adams Avenue to Lemon Grove. That could easily end up sounding cheesy, but Sure Fire does it with a familiarity that makes it all feel genuine and never once overwrought.
The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble, “Step Down”: Speaking of cinematic, Sure Fire’s “Step Down,” which also served as the name for its 2022 album, is a vision. It features a heavy groove inlaid with a guitar awash in tremolo, tinkling keys and the psychedelic flits of a flute. But the real star of the show is the beyond-fat horn breakdowns layered in a film of grit. The whole thing feels a bit like a secret agent montage from a classic James Bond flick and a lot like your new favorite song to blast while driving with the windows down.
Do you have a “Song of the Week” suggestion? Shoot us an email and a sentence or two about why you’ve been bumping this song lately. Friendly reminder: all songs should be by local artists!
In Other News
- KPBS reports that a migrant shelter in San Ysidro is in danger of closing due to a lack of funding.
- The kitten that caused a car crash on the San Diego-Coronado Bridge last week has a new home. (Union-Tribune)
- Officials broke ground on Tuesday on the 21-acre Sweetwater Park in Chula Vista, part of the sprawling Bayfront redevelopment project. (CBS 8)
- A year and a half after a redistricting battle led to a lawsuit, the San Dieguito Union High School District’s board approved a settlement (Union-Tribune)
- El Cajon’s city council voted unanimously to add nearly $2 million in state funding over three years to its homelessness programs. The city council also approved a $600,000 loan program meant to help homeowners finance the construction of affordable ADU’s.
- The San Diego Humane Society transferred around 250 small pets like rabbits and rats to the Southern Arizona Humane Society. Now, their location is a mystery. (ABC 10)
- A mother has filed a claim against the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, asserting that for five months it failed to identify the body of her 19-year-old son and notify the next of kin of his death. (Union-Tribune)
The Morning Report was written by Will Huntsberry, Jakob McWhinney and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña. It was edited by Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.