A storm is gathering for this weekend in San Diego County with record cold predicted to bring snow levels into the City. As KPBS reported, due to “lack of funds” hundreds of previously housed people will be without shelter. Add to that number the disabled vets, pregnant women, youth and their pets who made the Sunset Cliffs Blvd. side of Robb Field their home for the past six months.
City crews began to roust the residents from their encampments at 8 A.M. Thursday, Feb. 24th. People just happened to be living in the low lying Melaleucas as the saws, rakes and trucks removed the excess dry brush as had been scheduled several months ago. Although they had been notified several weeks in advance, this swift implementation of city policy caught the now homeless off guard.
“They did this because some guy threatened to burn us out!” said a young woman.
“And they know who he is too.” said her companion pointing to a trashcan sized area that appeared charred. “There’s proof!”
The city workers on site said that it was Department of Parks and Recreation scheduling that determined the timing of work and not other factors. When pressed on the question as to whether or not the threat of arson had any influence on the departments agenda the crew referred to several fires at Robb Field encampments, the largest occurring last week. Another city worker indicated that the area previously referred to by the now homeless was proof of such burns.
One local activist on the condition of anonymity, speculated that this ‘brush clearing’ was part of a city-wide campaign to harass and intimidate the homeless and their supporters now that the results of the Point in Time Count are in. With budget crises at the municipal, state and federal levels the subsequent transfer of monies might threaten some vested interests in the local real estate and tourist industries.
Such speculation was not on the minds of the collateral damage in this battle of the class war. Being forced out of their homes (in the Ocean Beach entryway) and finding shelter before the storms came is routine for them. Even as a city worker took pictures of them, there was a certain placid dignity and acceptance of their fate. They just wanted to get their story out. They had called Channel 10 and other mainstream outlets to no avail. If not ‘The OB Rag‘ then who?