San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria through an opening of a tent at at the Lot Safe Sleeping site on the edge of Balboa Park and near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria through an opening of a tent at the O Lot Safe Sleeping site on the edge of Balboa Park and near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

Some Point Loma residents are coming out against a city plan to convert a space it’s long used as a public safety training center into a shelter site for hundreds of homeless San Diegans.

A petition opposing the concept has garnered more than 3,000 signatures. Yet little is known about the city’s plan for the site known as H Barracks.

Here’s a rundown of what we know.

Uh, where is it? The five-acre site is next to the San Diego International Airport and across the Esplanade Canal from Liberty Station. Per Google Maps, it’s about a mile walk away from the popular arts and shopping district. 

What kicked off the controversy: In June, the city released a shelter strategy that identified H Barracks as a site that could potentially accommodate 300 to 700 people in multiple large tent shelters and perhaps a safe campsite or a parking lot for people living in vehicles. At the time, the city estimated the project could be ready as soon as summer 2024 after 12 to 16 months of demolition of existing buildings and other work.

Where it stands now: Rachel Laing, a spokeswoman for Mayor Todd Gloria, said the city is now analyzing the site and plans to engage the community once it gets a handle on its plans. Once the site begins serving homeless San Diegans, Laing said the city expects it could be in operation for as long as five years. The city plans to eventually house a Pure Water processing site at H Barracks.

What’s next: Gloria promises to share more details before the city moves forward, as he told NBC 7 and others at a press conference last week announcing the opening of the city’s second safe sleeping site at the edge of Balboa Park.

Press conference at the second safe sleeping program site near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023.
Press conference at the second safe sleeping program site near the Naval Medical Center on Oct. 20, 2023./ Photo by Ariana Drehsler

“We have more work to do there. What we have is a concept,” Gloria said. “We don’t have much more than that right now and my commitment is to work closely with the community, just as we did here in Balboa Park to understand what the possible impacts will be and try as best as possible to mitigate it.” 

About those safe campsites: Dreams for Change reported Thursday it has a wait list of about 200 people seeking a space in one of the city’s two safe campsites and expects to fill both sites within the next few weeks.

As of Thursday morning, 40 people were staying at the O Lot near the Naval Medical Center and 109 people at the city’s Golden Hill campsite. Dreams for Change said it’s in the process of moving some clients from the 20th and B campsite to O Lot. Among the reasons for those moves is additional amenities that appeal to some residents and a plan to make certain parts of the Golden Hill site more accessible for people with disabilities. Laing confirmed earlier this week that with the additional upgrades the city’s initial safe campsite will remain open beyond December, when an initial permit is set to expire. Laing said temporary permits will no longer be required due to that work. 

One family’s safe camping experience: 10 News spoke to a mother and son who moved into O Lot this week.

Biden Wants $310M to Fix a Broken Border Plant

President Biden arrives at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar to attend a get-out-the-vote event for Rep. Mike Levin in Oceanside on Nov. 3, 2022.
President Biden at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar on Nov. 3, 2022. / Photo by Ariana Drehsler

A wastewater treatment plant at the U.S.-Mexico border in serious need of repairs could finally get some much-needed funding. 

President Joe Biden has requested that Congress approve $310 million in emergency funding for the South Bay International Wastewater Treatment plant. As our MacKenzie Elmer has reported, the plant is having a hard time cleaning sewage before it reaches the ocean. That’s bad news for many of San Diego’s beach communities. 

Imperial Beach has been hit hardest by the contamination. The most southern end of the city’s beach has been closed for 680 consecutive days. The city celebrated the president’s request. 

More money, more problems: In 2020, Congress set aside $300 million to double the plant’s size. But officials only recently revealed that before they can even expand, the plant would require about half of those dollars for repairs. That shocked San Diego’s Congressional delegates because as one office told our Elmer: “Congress may have the power of the purse, but Congress can’t fix it if we don’t know how broken it is.”   

The new request for funding isn’t a guarantee. Congress would still need to approve

In Other News 

  • KPBS features the story behind a push to change public perceptions of Imperial Beach. It involved inspiration from the city’s surf history and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s chiseled abs. 
  • The Union-Tribune reported that a former University of San Diego quarterback has filed suit against the college over alleged hazing incidents.
  • Politico revealed that former San Diego assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who now leads the California Labor Federation, is catching flak in labor circles for quietly hiring a political strategist who has sometimes opposed union-backed campaigns after proposing a blacklist for consultants who cross unions.
  • Cases of Mpox, formerly known as monkeypox, are on the rise in San Diego County, City News Service reports.
  • The Associated Press reports that a new federal strategy to combat fentanyl trade will start in the San Diego area. 
  • The Union-Tribune reports that UC San Diego’s enrollment is continuing to surge.

The Morning Report was written by Lisa Halverstadt and Andrea Lopez-Villafaña.

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1 Comment

  1. Why is Congress paying for a local sewage plant? Isn’t that something that would normally be done by a city or a county, and would be paid for by our water and sewer bill?

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