Panel on Homelessness at Midway Planners’ Meet – Wed. June 17

by on June 16, 2015 · 5 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, History, Homelessness, Ocean Beach

Midway homeless womanBy Tony de Garate

Oh no — not another meeting about homelessness?

No doubt that’s what some will say about the panel assembled by the office of District 2 San Diego City Councilor Lorie Zapf for a discussion on the topic at the monthly meeting of the Midway Community Planning Group June 17 at 3 p.m. in Room 205 of the San Diego Community College, West City Campus, 3249 Fordham St.

If anyone should be skeptical about efforts to address homeless issues in the Midway community, it’s Melanie Nickel, the planning group’s longtime chair. No other issue has been as chronic, pervasive and seemingly unsolvable in the 12 years she’s served with the group.

“A lot of us have been to these meetings and nothing has happened,” Nickel conceded, contacted by phone.

Nevertheless, Nickel expects a productive discussion for two reasons. Members of the Zapf-assembled panel have been advised not to repeat the mistakes of other forums that had members more willing to talk about downtown and less qualified to address homeless issues in the outlying communities, she said.

“We made it very clear we’d like to talk about Midway. We don’t want to hear about all the good stuff going on somewhere else,” Nickel said.

Secondly, the discussion will include real-world feedback from members of the planning group, most of whom are property owners or run businesses in Midway and deal with the homeless on a daily basis. Some are building owners with chronic vacancies and business owners who find themselves forced to lock their doors during regular hours, for example.

“We certainly have people who can give some stories,” Nickel said.

Finding evidence of homeless populations who take up in Midway doesn’t take much effort. Barely functioning recreational vehicles parked on streets north of the Sports Arena, panhandlers on virtually every major intersection, and ever-present citizens with scattered belongings on Rosecrans Street underneath I-5 are impossible to miss.

Then there are the less-visible homeless who hide in the nooks and crannies of the community’s industrial areas.

“We know we have a great number of homeless here, and there are a lot of reasons it’s convenient for them to be here,” Nickel said.

The panel will include representatives from the San Diego Police Department, the Psychiatric Hospital of San Diego County, San Diego County Community Transition Center and Zapf or representatives from her office, Nickel said.

“They’re going to listen, and that’s important to us,” she said.

Also on the agenda is a presentation of the public art that will adorn the under-construction Rental Car Center on the north side of the San Diego International Airport, a $316 million, four-story, 2 million-square-foot facility that will house 16 rental car companies. Planning group members are interested in how the art will affect the view of the building from passing traffic along I-5 and Pacific Highway, Nickel said.

“I’ve been kind of harassing them about what it’s going to look like. We’re getting a big building, we don’t want to get a big ugly building,” she said.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

mjt June 16, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Pathetic America!
Check out on Youtube and elsewhere Chinese Ghost cities. Cities that can accommodate millions, with shopping malls, stadiums, high speed trains that can go 200 miles an hour, sit empty. In 2013 twelve new Ghost Cities were built.
In fifteen years Shanghai grew from 6.61 million to 23 million. They can build a 30 story hotel in two weeks.

Meanwhile back in America we can’t get out of our own way.
Where there is a will there is a way. I have always considered the Chinese superior to us, that being said, I believe we can do much better solving our problems.
What is standing in our way?


iblong June 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Amazing what slave labor can accomplish.


Cholly June 17, 2015 at 7:47 am

I understand that the Mormons in Salt Lake City have had success with the problem of homelessness. The Churches seem to be the only groups that actually do anything, yet they aren’t involved w/ this “serious” discussion?? … And to our Chinese cheer leader: Have you seen the atmosphere pollution throughout China? That’s probably why there are so few homeless in China; they can’t breathe in the open, Because of all the factories making absolutely needless junk for you know who.


OB Dude June 17, 2015 at 8:56 am

Ain’t that the truth!

“Because of all the factories making absolutely needless junk for you know who.”

How many versions of a phone is really needed?


Randy June 18, 2015 at 8:02 am

There will always be some homeless around. So not entirely sure what can be done about the ones in the Midway. I am far more concerned with the aggressive panhandlers in OB. The city and community needs to focus on the ones that threaten people and block the sidewalks.


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