The Rag Revisits Gloria’s ‘Hot Lot’ Homeless Encampment

by on August 3, 2023 · 6 comments

in Homelessness, San Diego

By Geoff Page

It has been three weeks since The Rag’s story on the city’s homeless encampment at the city’s Central Operations Station. The hot lot. A return visit was in order to see if the facility was doing any better after all of the criticism in the media. Sadly, not much better at all.

There have been changes. During the last visit, the facility consisted a large fenced area with one interior fence. There was a large area for tents and a small area for a trailer, restrooms and wash stands. The trailer appears to be an office.

As reportedly previously, the trailer was not, and still is not, ADA compliant. It clearly is not a shower facility. There did not appear to be any shower facilities on the site.

The city created a smaller, fenced-in enclosure within the large area where the tents were set up. This area shared a fence with the pre-existing area that contains the trailer. There were 15+ tents in this new, interior enclosure. The reason for this may be to separate a specific population, such as perhaps women and children, from the main area.

Seven canopies in trailer area.

The rest of tent area outside this new enclosure had about 40 tents in it.  That would be 55+ tents altogether. Three weeks ago, there were 28 tents. The site is supposed to hold 131 tents. The city has only managed to add 27 tents in those three weeks.

The major, valid criticism for this location is the heat and a complete lack of shade. The Rag made an issue of this as did others in the media. Did the city listen?

There are four more 10 x 10 canopies in the large tent area bringing the total to five. There were none in the new enclosure. There were three canopies outside the new enclosure between that fence and the site fence. Oddly enough, there were seven canopies in the small area that contained the trailer.

That would amount to about 1,500 square feet of shade on a site of about 45,000 square feet.

Shade structure tarps interior side. All photos by Geoff Page.

There was something new that may be a shade shelter. It appears to be roughly 15 feet wide and about 100 feet long. As the pictures show, tarps are strung between the top of the exterior site fence for the city’s facility and the new interior enclosure fence. The exterior site fence is much taller than the interior fence creating a sloping roof. The better headroom is clearly closer to the outside fence than next to the low side.

The city’s exterior site fence has a green privacy screen on it. It forms one wall. This impedes the flow of breezes into the shade area and blocks any exterior views. The enclosure side of this shade area also has a privacy screen on it. Additionally, the roof tarps extend pretty much over the side of the new enclosure fence. Breezes are again impeded from this side and views are also blocked.

Shade tunnel entrance.

The end result looks like a dark tunnel with no view outside, except at each end, with less circulating air than outside. At the very least, the city should remove the privacy cloth from the fences, which would allow much better airflow.

Removing the cloth would also give people sitting in the shade the opportunity to look out on the sunny day and the trees in the surrounding hills.

The tents have no relief from the sun. There appears to be some reflective-type materials over the tops of some tents, but not many. This would not help with the heat coming up from the asphalt underneath all of them.

Lastly, there were four or five new toilets. But this is another shade problem — none of the portable toilets on the site, which are made of plastic, are shaded. After many years working outdoors in San Diego, this writer can personally attest to how almost unbearably hot these things can get out in the sun. They should all have shade.

The overall feeling is that the city has made very little real effort to improve the living conditions or to even fill up the available spaces. It may be that the city knows it has to be out of this location by December 28. Channel 8’s Dorian Hargrove discovered this when he obtained the site permits. The city is probably unwilling to spend any more than it absolutely has to.

The people caught in between are the people in those tents. The city has patted itself on the back for creating this place but it is all smoke and mirrors. Providing shade is not an expensive thing to do, it is not something to go cheap on.


{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Gormlie August 3, 2023 at 11:21 am

Geoff’s “revisit” to Mayor Gloria’s Hot Lot is a brilliant piece of reporting. News media are not allowed inside the encampment — and BTW Geoff has an official city of San Diego-issued press badge.


Greg August 3, 2023 at 11:27 am

What is the reasoning behind news media not being allowed AT ALL into the area? Seems reasonable to do a guided tour every month or something at a pre-determined date/time just for oversight.


Frank Gormlie August 3, 2023 at 11:36 am

Greg, the city says it’s an “invasion of privacy” of the unhoused campers at the site, but it’s okay to interview people outside the encampment -yet as Geoff pointed out in his first post, that could take hours as nobody then was leaving or coming. I think it’s an “invasion of privacy” of the city – they don’t want anyone to really know what the conditions are like.


Frank Gormlie August 4, 2023 at 7:25 am

In today’s Voice of SD, they write: “Mayor Todd Gloria also announced that as of Wednesday night, 111 people slept at the city’s first safe sleeping site in Golden Hill. They were staying in 93 tents at a city operations yard the city has said can eventually accommodate 136 tents.”


Geoff Page August 4, 2023 at 11:53 am

That is a plain lie.

I personally counted s little more than 55 tents. I posted this story on Twitter, or “X” I guess, and another person responded with their pictures taken yesterday that confirmed mine.
“Here’s pictures taken before noon today. They’re reporting 93 occupied tents. I’m counting different.”

I have several more pictures apart from what is in this piece. The city is lying folks.


sealintheSelkirks August 9, 2023 at 1:33 pm

On heat and hot pavement:

This finding in the below article is unsurprising:

“Interestingly, the studies found that most of the deaths occurred at heat indexes below those used by the National Weather Service as the basis for advisories and warnings.”

Yes, BELOW the official NWS line which means they’re low-balling just how dangerous…well, of course they are!! Means everyone is being low-balled including me up here in the 100’F+ every day zone that …



Leave a Comment

Older Article:

Newer Article: