City Council Approves Homeless Storage Facility Despite Negative Community Response
By Mario A. Cortez
Despite resounding disapproval from residents of neighborhoods already struggling to handle homeless crowds, the San Diego City Council voted to approve the opening of a storage facility for homeless individuals to store their belongings during a meeting held on Tuesday, March 20.
The vote yielded an 8-1 result in favor of opening up the storage facility, with District 8 Councilmember David Alvarez being the only opposing vote.
The now-approved facility site, located on the corner of 20th and Commercial in Sherman Heights, will offer 500 storage spaces for homeless individuals to deposit their belongings so that they can attend or receive transitional services such as medical care or transportation.
Residents of neighborhoods such as Sherman Heights and nearby Logan Heights and Barrio Logan, all of which have been dealing with issues pertaining to homelessness for years, gathered to voice their disapproval at the project site.
Prior to the City Council meeting, about 200 people, including families, business owners, religious figures and school-aged children, and District 8 Councilman David Alvarez spoke out against the proposed facility site.
Noel Bishop, principal of Our Lady’s School in Barrio Logan, stated that the storage facility site is too close to his school and a cause for concern.
“According to the municipal codes, we have 1,500 feet that we should respect from anything that is not safe for our kids and the building is about 15 feet away from our playground, so we are concerned about what is going to happen,” Bishop said.
Bishop also that his school playground has been closed for the last couple of years due to safety concerns over the large number of homeless individuals hanging around adjacent streets.
Adrianna Flores of neighborhood group Compassionate Solutions was present to voice her discontent at the proposed site, stating that the nearby communities had no say in the placement of the storage center.
“We were never notified the residents about this issue and everything was just thrown at us and it is not fair that everything is thrown at the residents of Logan and Sherman heights, it is time for other communities to step in and help,” she said.
Michael Fernandez was present to voice his concern over an increase in homeless individuals transiting through the area.
“Basically, we’ll see more homeless people walking and sleeping around the storage area all day and there won’t be any places for them to use the restroom or shower at the facilities and we’ll see more trash in our community because of this,” Fernandez said.
During the City Council meeting, and before the final vote, changes were made to the initial plan for this storage facility. The total number of storage bins for the facility was reduced from 1,000 to the approved 500 and provisions to create a neighborhood committee to oversee the center’s operations and to have an opening date after June 12, when Our Lady’s School finishes its academic year, were also included.
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