San Diego’s second safe sleeping site is now open.
Mayor Todd Gloria, Councilman Stephen Whitburn and other city officials provided a tour Friday of the site located on the edge of Balboa Park, also known as the O Lot. The city will admit the site’s first residents on Saturday, officials said.
In what used to be the Naval Medical Center’s parking lot, 21 tents out of the 400 planned are ready to serve San Diego’s unhoused residents. These tents are lined up side by side and are staggered into three different levels on the property with the capacity to house up to two people and their belongings.
There is already a waitlist of over 120 people for the O lot.
City officials have considered this lot for months coinciding with the camping ban that started in June, as a way to eliminate encampments on public property with more shelters accessible to the unhoused population.
Within the O lot, residents will have access to restrooms, showers, laundry, meals and even a free shuttle to transport them between two other safe sleeping program sites. This shuttle will help them access other services, run errands and go to work and school as needed.
As of now, city officials expect O lot will be available for 18-24 months.
“Seven months ago we asked all 31 operational departments to be creative, to open up the minds to step up to the plate and identify city properties where we could provide safe sleeping sites. This is just one of those examples and many more to come.” said Dargan.
The two service providers for this site will be Dreams for Change and the Downtown San Diego Partnership.
“With this site, we will be able to work with clients while they are in place of security and safety,” said Betsy Brennan, CEO for the Downtown San Diego Partnership, “Security and safety is of utmost importance and environment much more conducive to talking about the next steps for how we can support them on their journey.”
Mayor Gloria explained that the city charter dictates that this city property needs to be used for recreational purposes but under an emergency declaration a temporary exception has been given.