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

This post first appeared in the Oct. 27 Morning Report. To subscribe to our free daily newsletter, click here.

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: 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.

Lisa is a senior investigative reporter who digs into some of San Diego's biggest challenges including homelessness, city real estate debacles, the region's...

Join the Conversation


  1. It should be pointed out that liberals and conservatives have very different ideas about the concept of rights. When a progressive says that people have a right to housing or medical care then it implies that others have an obligation to give people those things. A conservative believes that you have a right to housing, but not to have something give you a house. You simply have a right in an egalitarian society to pursue whatever education and/or job you want and then seek to get the things you want without people impeding your efforts. In other words conservatives believe in equal opportunity, but not equal outcomes. Outcome depends on the work that someone puts into their efforts. You have a right to health care in the sense that we should all be able to obtain coverage but we must still pay something for it and maintain coverage if we expect to get the benefits from it. If society decides to vote for social welfare policies or donates to charity then we can debate those things and decide how much we want government to provide subsidize services but government should never have any kind of legal obligation to provide social services. If it does than it upends our ability to vote for the kind of representation and level of government service we want to pay for.

  2. I went to this site. It is sandwiched between a pedestrian airport entrance on one side and two visitor-oriented hotels on the other. It is a 5 min walk to the pedestrian bridge to Liberty Station (which btw houses 3 schools whose students frequently go down to the waterfront area) and/or the Spanish Landing parks/playground. Hard to imagine a worse place for a major homeless camp. But it sounds like the city is hellbent on it. Insane.

  3. Error in article. The Golden Hill homeless site is City’s Operation Yard at 26th Street, not 20th & B. (FYI: 26th Street becomes Florida Drive on west side of Pershing. One can see the tents when driving up Pershing towards North Park).

  4. So we’re in the process of spending $2.7 billion dollars on a brand new airport to welcome the world to America’s Finest City and we’re going to put the County’s largest homeless shelter directly adjacent? The inhabitants are their voluntarily, they’re not in custody, so when they inevitably want to leave during the day, for instance, to access services in East Village during the day, or to seek medical attention at the County Hospital in the Midway district, to visit a friend at another shelter, to purchase necessities, etc., then what route does the City envision them taking?

  5. It is wonderful to read these insightful and considerate comments. At recent local community meetings some of us from the area have been given a few minutes to speak. these are some of the points suggested during the community meetings that we hope will help the Mayor’s office to reconsider the H Barracks idea:

    The proposed site is uninhabitable because at that end of the runway the airplanes are at their lowest and loudest, and generating the most airborne pollution of any phase of flight. Putting people there in tents is inhumane. They also have only one bus line in that area, and it also serves the airport.

    Within 100 feet of the proposed site:
    – San Diego County Regional Airport Authority Office
    – San Diego State University Coastal & Marine Institute Laboratory
    – U.S. Geological Survey
    – City of San Diego Public Utilities Department Environmental Monitoring and Technical Services Division Laboratory

    Within 500 feet:
    – Naval Information Warfare Training Group San Diego
    – Marines Corps Recruit Depot San Diego
    – International Arrivals, Terminal 2, and active flight operations ramps

    Within 2,500 feet:
    – Naval Base Point Loma Harbor Drive Annex
    – Military Family Housing, day care, and schools serving over 500 military families
    – Naval Training Center Branch Medical Clinic

    The military facilities are protected by armed guards authorized to use lethal force. Homeless intruders have already been killed on MCRD and in military family housing. Security on military bases and in military family housing is a congressional concern. Any issues on military installations will quickly become issues for the Mayor’s office.

    The Information Warfare Training Group is the only facility of this type in the southwest region. MCRD and the Navy Regional Recruiting Office on the Harbor Drive Annex serve thousands of recruits per year and interference with operations on any of these bases is a national security issue.

    On the Harbor Drive Annex base are three commands with staff from other nations. An incident can be elevated to diplomatic levels and referred to the US Department of State and Secretary of Defense. This also will result in some uncomfortable conversations with the Mayor’s office

    Local and military Police are already stretched thin and are not anticipating more resources. Staffing at the Western Division is already too low to handle the Midway district.

    The city claims that security personnel will be hired to keep the temporary shelters safe, but these are not law enforcement personnel and when there is a problem, they will have to call 911, and wait, just like everyone else. Adding hundreds more homeless people to the community without adding permanent law enforcement will have tragic, immediate, and long-term effects.

    Finally, if a homeless person is expelled from the shelter, or decides to leave, they will be immediately in the surrounding community again. They will live off the community for their basic human needs.

    We all seek a humane permanent solution to help those who cannot help themselves but this location for a shelter

    1. (The last words from my submission):
      …for a shelter is bad for the community and for those who would be sheltered in it.

  6. The next time you do an article about Barracks H, how about including a photo of Barracks H, instead of one of Todd’s tent encampment in Balboa Park? Let readers see what you’re writing about.

Leave a comment
We expect all commenters to be constructive and civil. We reserve the right to delete comments without explanation. You are welcome to flag comments to us. You are welcome to submit an opinion piece for our editors to review.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.