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 Change.org 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.
“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: Operator 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. The drop in people staying at the Golden Hill campsite, which had served about 150 people the previous day, reflected a number of scenarios. Dreams for Change reported that 28 people exited the site effective Thursday for reasons including moves to other programs including housing and not returning to the city maintenance yard for five days. Dreams for Change said also it’s in the process of moving some clients from the 20th and B campsite to O Lot. Among the reasons for the moves to O Lot 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 following that work.
One family’s safe camping experience: 10 News spoke to a mother and son who moved into O Lot this week.