Midway Planners – Homeless, Private Security and Trolley Hubs

by on February 20, 2017 · 4 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, Politics

By Geoff Page

Concerns about the homeless problem continued to dominate the discussion at the Midway/Pacific Highway Community Planning Group’s regular monthly meeting Thursday, February 15, 2017. According to the board’s chair, Cathy Stanton, this subject is a regular topic for its meetings.

The chair announced that they want to devote the entire April board meeting to a discussion of the homeless issue.  She said they want to include Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach in the discussion as well as having city representatives there.  Bruce Williams, representing Councilmember Zapf’s office, said they are supportive of the meeting and mentioned getting the mayor’s “homeless czar,” Stacie Spector, to attend. Here is a link to information about Ms. Spector.

Private Security Service Considered

he homeless and transient problem is so serious in the Midway area that the board is working to hire a security service similar to the one the OB Merchants Association engaged in Ocean Beach. They are getting bids from security firms for “dusk to dawn” coverage with a full time security person and a car. There is sufficient money to fund this for two years.  If the service proves to be worthwhile, the plan is to make it permanent funded by an assessment fee on area businesses if they agree.

One of the benefits touted for the security service was that this would be an opportunity to gather information on the problems Midway businesses are having with the homeless and with property crimes.  This information could be used to show the city the real extent of the problem in the Midway area and perhaps garner some help.

The chair brought up a possible solution for the homeless problem offered by one of the Midway property owners called Camp Hope.  The proposal is to provide permanent housing on city owned land at Brown Field in Otay Mesa.  The camp would include a variety of things such as a some building housing as well as RV hookups, areas to pitch tents, a medical clinic, policing, and other amenities.  The chair said the proposal wasn’t just to get the homeless out of the area, it was a possible solution to the overall problem.  An audience member commented that this seemed like a pretty impractical solution.

Bruce Williams from Zapf’s office.

Getting People to the New Trolley Stations

The San Diego Association of Governments, more commonly known as SANDAG, made a presentation of its newest effort, the Mid Coast Mobility Hub Project.  The new trolley extension from Old Town to University City is now under construction. SANDAG is turning its attention to the issue of getting people from the surrounding neighborhoods to the nine new stations along that line.

The new trolley line will have stations at Tecolote Road, Clairemont Drive, and Balboa Avenue.  Six more stations are in La Jolla beginning at Noble Drive and following the trolley loop north to Voight Drive and back south to University Town Center.

The plan is create these mobility hubs at each station that will offer people a number of ways to more easily use mass transit.  The hubs will include such things as bike parking, electric bike charging stations, car sharing services, ride sharing, shuttle service, and transit information, to name a few things.  SANDAG has lot of ideas for what to include but it wants to hear what other ideas or preferences the public has.

In order to garner community input, SANDAG has set up an on-line survey for people to express opinions or provide suggestions.  The survey is here  ( Scroll down and there will be a large box to click for the survey.) The survey will be ending in March and SANDAG’s representatives said anyone interested in contributing should not wait too long. The link also provides additional information about the new mobility hubs including maps and how the process will proceed for the next two years.

The homeless issue came up again during the mobility hub discussion. With bike facilities, wifi, and restrooms, some on the board worried the Old Town hub would just become a homeless encampment.  Others talked about the unpleasantness of trying to walk to the Old Town trolley station because of homeless encampments under the freeway.  Some felt this walk was not safe or pleasant at any time of the day or night but others said the real concern was at night.

Board Elections in March

In other news, the board will have an election in March.  The election will take place March 15 from 2:30 to 3:00, prior to the monthly meeting at the San Diego City College – West City Campus on Fordham Street.  The election will take place on the first floor and the meeting will commence at 3:00 on the second floor, room 208.  The board is encouraging people to run.

Zapf’s representative touched on a few other items.  A group called Connecting Hope will be doing weed abatement on a $5,000 grant from Zapf’s office and he encouraged people to send in suggestions about where to focus this effort.  He mentioned that the request for “senior signs” was approved and will be going up in 60 to 90 days that will warn people seniors are in the area.  He said that Midway has an economic development grant of $140,000 that they need to find ways to use.  He said PB is using theirs for a Clean and Safe project.  More information on that can be found here .

The chair mentioned two items from the monthly Community Planning Committee meeting.  Dredging will take place from November of this year until March of 2018 in Mission Bay.  She also described a proposal from Councilmember Sherman to consolidate the number of community planning groups in the city, such as combining OB, the Peninsula, and Midway planning boards into one large group.  Neither the chair nor the board members believed this was a worthwhile idea because the needs of these areas are different.  Midway is mostly a business area with, at present, few residents and has different concerns than OB or the Peninsula.

The announcement :

 

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul February 20, 2017 at 11:58 am

Residents who oppose new housing are upset about the homelessness they have helped create. Priceless.

Also, I often hear residents say, “We can’t add any more housing until we have better public transit”. Then they oppose improvements like Mobility Hubs because homeless.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Reply

Geoff Page Geoff Page February 20, 2017 at 2:52 pm

I gotta say, Paul, that you’re mixing apples and oranges here. Some part of the homeless population may be partly due to the housing shortage but the majority of the problem has nothing to do with that. The “homeless” population consists of a variety of groups, something that was noted by area resident Jarvis Ross at this meeting. One group is the mentally ill, their presence on the streets can be traced back to Reagan closing all the state mental facilities that we once had, saying that the problem was better handled by private citizens. We see how that worked out. Another group consists of those who chose to remain off the grid, so to speak, and have no interest in permanent housing. Then, there is a group that was once domiciled in SROs, single room occupancy hotels downtown, most of which have been demolished for – surprisingly – housing, but expensive housing. Then, there is a group that comes from other parts of the country, many of which are sent here with a bus ticket to get them out of wherever they came from.

I certainly have never heard anyone say we can’t build more housing until we having better public transit. And finally, they did not oppose the mobility hubs, they liked the idea. They were just voicing a concern that SANDAG will need to consider.

Reply

Kathy Slenker February 23, 2017 at 11:16 am

What a great idea. Father Joe can’t and shouldn’t have to go it alone!

Reply

Geoff Page Geoff Page February 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

What idea are you referring to?

Reply

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