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City Council punts homeless shelter issue back to Mayor’s office

September 14, 2009 - 9:07 pm

The San Diego City Council voted 5-2 tonight to send an analysis of potential sites for the annual winter homeless shelter back to the Mayor’s office, with Kevin Faulconer and Carl DeMaio taking the lead in disparaging the analysis as inadequate and focusing too narrowly on Downtown.

The analysis zeroed in on a site at 13th and F streets in East Village the one that made the most sense. Homelessness services coordinator Amy Benjamin said only sites that were within a quarter-mile of the sort of services homeless people need. That irritated Faulconer, who’s tired of East Village and Barrio Logan always having to bear the burden of the annual shelter, which is proposed to serve some 220 people from Dec. 2 through the end of March.

Faulconer successfully lobbied his colleagues to send the Mayor’s office back to the drawing board to consider sites outside of Downtown. Councilmembers Marti Emerald, Sherri Lightner, Ben Hueso and Tony Young supported Faulconer. Councilmembers DeMaio and Todd Gloria voted no. DeMaio raised his voice as he chastised the mayor for lack of leadership, so he certainly didn’t vote no because he supported the analysis. Perhaps it was because Faulconer rejected DeMaio’s idea to list the parking lot at the County Administration Building and Golden Hall at the civic center as two possible options for the shelter. Gloria voted no because he didn’t believe the proper response to a lack of leadership was additional lack of leadership. He worried that delay in choosing a site would mean a delay in the opening of the shelter.

Gloria’s concern was seconded by a representative from Alpha Project, the nonprofit organization that operates the shelter, who was the only person to express support for the East Village site. Dozens of public speakers, mostly residents and business interests in East Village, ripped the idea.

Councilmember Donna Frye was absent.

Many speakers and several councilmembers noted that the siting of the shelter is an annual headache. No one wants the shelter in his or her neighborhood. Numerous speakers, including Councilmembers Emerald and Hueso, said the shelter shouldn’t be anywhere near any sort of educational facility, and Faulconer agreed to add that to the direction sent to the mayor’s office, which now has until Oct. 13 to come up with a new analysis.

Meanwhile, city staff are in the process of evaluating proposals for a permanent shelter and intake facility, as well as a network of supportive housing. A recommendation is scheduled to be made to a City Council committee next month.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Ship 'em to Carl's district! permalink
    September 15, 2009 - 3:49 pm 3:49 pm

    I don’t understand the issue with constantly having homeless shelter downtown where most of the homeless and all of their services are. Demaio has no fear that they would locate the shelter in his district, so it’s no skin off his neck to complain about “a lack of leadership.” Maybe we should give all the people served by the shelter a trolley pass and expect them to make the trek from the Qualcomm parking lot to St. Vincent de Paul. It’s just ridiculous that East Villagers complain about homeless! What were you thinking moving into a homeless camp if you can’t abide homeless people??

  2. Watcher permalink
    September 16, 2009 - 1:05 pm 1:05 pm

    Downtown wouldn’t have near as many homeless if other police agencie around the county didn’t dump all their drunks at the downtown detox center, then refuse to take them back when they’ve dried out. Instead, drunks from all over the county are sent out onto downtown streets. Regional police agencies should be required to agree to take back their drunks as a condition of using the downtown detox center and county jail. Spread the suffering, don’t concentrate it all downtown.

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