Midway Planners Like ‘Sunbreak Ranch’ for the Homeless, Dislike Energy Alternative for the Rest of Us

by on May 22, 2017 · 0 comments

in Ocean Beach

by Geoff Page

A couple of hot topics were discussed at the Midway/ Pacific Highway Community   Planning Group’s regular monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 17 at the San Diego Community College’s West City Campus on Fordham Street.

Sunbreak Ranch

The first was something with an endearing sounding name, Sunbreak Ranch, as a possible interim solution for a not so endearing problem, the homeless.  The second was an idea for having the City of San Diego become an energy provider.

Sunbreak Ranch is an idea being floated by a group of private individuals and, after hearing an explanation of what it was, images of refugee camps around the world came to mind.  Simply put, the idea is to create a location in Otay Mesa to quickly build a temporary housing camp for the homeless.

Otay Mesa possible location for SunBreak Ranch.

As described by George Mullen, the businessman who is spearheading this effort, the camp would have tent housing, sanitary facilities, policing, counseling, job assistance, and a variety of other services designed to help people out of homelessness or into care if needed for physical or mental issues.  Mullen presented this as a compassionate way to help people who are now living on the streets with no help.

The question of how to get people into Sunbreak appeared to be connected to what Mullen referred to as “the rule of law.”  Mullen said that we need to get back to the rule of law, that is, enforcing laws for vagrancy, public urination or defecation, sleeping where the law prohibits it, and other crimes and misdemeanors that are not being enforced now.

The idea is like an either or choice, jail or Sunbreak Ranch.  This would not be for everyone of course, Mullen expects many of the homeless would welcome the chance to go to Sunbreak as a safe improvement over the streets.  While that may be the case, it sounded like some of the homeless will be there unwillingly.

The project was originally called Camp Hope.  Mullen wrote a February 9, 2017 article for the San Diego Union Tribune that gives more detail.  There is also a website .

Mullen was very critical of the city for its lack of leadership on the homeless problem.  He said the mayor is not in favor of his proposal.

According to the mayor’s representative, the city is moving along with its own plan for a Central Intake Center.  The city has already started the RFP – Request for Proposal – process for someone to create this new facility.  This proposal brings to mind Ellis Island in New York where immigrants were processed for many years. The name itself – Intake Center –  evokes some kind of sewage facility.  For more on the Central Intake Facility

Brian Pease. Photos by Geoff Page

One of the audience members, Brian Pease, a candidate for the Council District 2 seat next year, spoke up and said that it has been proven temporary housing for the homeless does not work, permanent housing is needed.

The Midway board was very much in favor of the plan and voted to support it.  The Midway area appears to be a magnet for the homeless and the problem is so acute that any proposed solution would probably be looked upon favorably.  Mullen presented the idea well but promoters will have to overcome the feeling that this is some kind of prison or refugee camp.

There are “temporary” refugee camps worldwide that have been in existence for many, many years.  This is proposed as a temporary solution that can be dismantled once the problem has been solved.  That point did not have a realistic ring to it.  Mullen and his supporters are looking for public input and support.

Community Choice Energy

The second topic that got everyone’s attention was a presentation for Community Choice Energy.  In a nutshell, the idea is to have the city become an energy provider as competition for SDG&E giving citizens a second choice they do not have with today’s energy monopoly.

According to the presenter, 64 cities in California are doing this now.  The implementation was designed by the state.  The biggest benefit was lower rates for everyone.  The idea is being pushed in San Diego as a way to meet its Climate Action plan for clean energy.  Apparently, SDG&E is not supportive of the clean energy goals so an alternative choice may be necessary.

The way the program would work would be for the city to enter into energy contracts with providers it chooses.  The city would also buy energy from rooftop solar systems as SDG&E is doing today.

Once the presenter finished, there was immediate blowback from the Midway board on the idea that the City of San Diego was capable of managing something like this when it seems incapable of managing much else.  There was very little faith in the city in that room. The item was on the agenda to get a letter of support but the board declined saying more information was needed before the board could decide to support it or not.

For more information on the idea, see this.

Other News

In other news, Vickie White from the city’s Planning Department, gave a presentation of the draft Midway Community Plan that came out several weeks ago.  White described the process the plan will follow from this point, including an Environmental Impact Report, that would be ready for review by mid to late August.  The review period will last 60 days into October then there is a 30-day period to respond to the EIR comments.

Daniel Smiechowski

After the EIR response, there will be public hearings, it will go to the Planning Commission, City Council, and the Coastal Commission.  The appearance at City Council is planned for March 2018 followed by some rezoning of areas in the plan.

The mayor’s representative also mentioned that the city has set aside $100k to search for a new police chief to replace Chief Zimmerman who is retiring.

Besides Brian Pease, a second candidate for the District 2 seat was there, Daniel Smiechowski.  He said he was a Democrat and said the homeless issue needed to be dealt with using “tough love.”  There is a 2010 biography for Smiechowski here.

One of Brian Pease’s claims to fame is that he is referred to as the “seal lawyer” for his involvement in the Children’s Pool seal saga.

There will be a presentation by the proponents of Soccer City at the meeting in June.


{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: