City Council to approves storage facility for homeless
A few weeks ago, I wrote about a proposed settlement to a lawsuit stemming from the destruction of homeless peoples’ property in September 2009 by city employees. When I wrote the article, the City Council hadn’t yet officially approved the settlement, which would allocate $100,000 from the city’s public-liability fund (basically, the pot of money that pays for damages stemming from lawsuits) to pay for a storage facility similar to one that’s operated successfully in L.A. since 2002. There, folks’ possessions are kept in large storage bins that they can access during certain hours.
Today, the City Council unanimously approved the settlement and San Diego police promised to make sure the storage facility is well-run and doesn’t attract loitering.
“We’re going to do what L.A. does,” said Sgt. Rick Schnell, who head the SDPD’s Homeless Outreach Team. “If people do start hanging around, we’re not going to let them use the facility.”
The storage facility, to be located at 917 Ninth Ave., will operate for one year in a city-owned building that’s slated, after that year’s up, to be torn down to make way for a park. The city’s promised, per the settlement, to make every attempt to then find an alternate facility.
From the city staff report: “It is anticipated that the one-year pilot program will lead to a significant of [reduction in] blight from our street and be continued past the one-year because of its success.”
The storage facility will be operated by The Isaiah Project, a nonprofit I’ve written about quite a bit for their innovative street-level advocacy and outreach. (They’re also the ones seeking funding for public restrooms for the homeless that I wrote about last week). When I talked to the Isaiah Project’s Gerry Limpic last week, he said the facility could be up and running in a week or so.
Part of the settlement also requires a new system to notice people if the city plans a clean-up. I shot the photo below this morning under the Imperial Avenue bridge. The bright-green sign on the wall complies with the settlement’s requirement that abatement signs be more visible. Though, the majority of the items in the area clearly aren’t trash. When it rains, encampments like this crop up under bridges. The abatement’s scheduled for Jan. 13 between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m. The sign was posted yesterday. It does say, in compliance with city law, that “personal property that is sanitary or saleable or usable or otherwise reasonably appears to be of value… will be stored for 90 days” and gives a number for people to contact to retrieve it.