As South San Diego County Cities Enact Camping Bans, the Unhoused Will Be Pushed to the Border. Now There’s an Idea – A Short Satire

by on September 1, 2023 · 16 comments

in Homelessness, San Diego, Satire, World News

When the city of San Diego enforced its ban on homeless encampments, neighboring cities like Chula Vista experienced an influx of unhoused people.

Sebastian Martinez, the executive director of a Chula Vista-based nonprofit that provides homeless services for the South Bay, told 7SanDiego:

“We’ve already seen, even in the weeks leading up to the actual announcement of San Diego’s camping ban, a huge influx of folks, folks that aren’t from Chula Vista, National City or IB.”

Martinez used his group’s pantry as a measuring stick. Usually the food they distribute lasts a week. But now, he said, “We’ve been going through that food every two days.” 7SanDiego

And now Chula Vista, the county’s second-largest city, is considering its own homeless camping ban. The CV City Council recently agreed unanimously to use homeless encampment policies adopted by other cities in the region as a guide as it drafts its own ordinance.

Adding to or strengthening its existing municipal code, which prohibits sleeping or camping on city-owned or leased properties such as parking lots or parks, is the next step, said Mayor McCann. The City Council is expected to receive a report from city staff at a future meeting, which could be as early as September.

The city of El Cajon is also thinking about a ban. Poway has begun enforcing theirs. San Diego Union-Tribune

The above is all true.

So, what if Chula Vista enacts a camping ban for unhoused people? Where will their homeless citizens go?

They can’t go to Nestor, Palm City, Otay or San Ysidro because they’re all neighborhoods of the City of San Diego. What about Imperial Beach?

In 2019 Imperial Beach expanded its regulations against camping and sleeping in parks and other public spaces to include streets and sidewalks under an ordinance. It’s not much of a jump then, for IB to craft a new ordinance similar to San Diego’s. Let’s say they do it.

What then for the hundreds who have been pushed south from San Diego, and then pushed south from Chula Vista and now from Imperial Beach?

Where is there to go? Here’s an idea: What about the border?

There’s already a “no-man’s land” between the border fences. The area between the two border walls is technically on U.S. soil but is considered a sort of neutral zone. Wouldn’t that be a perfect place for San Diego’s homeless? Let them rest their weary bones and not have to be rousted by early morning raids by police.

It’s a very diverse place, with migrants from all over the world. Migrants there would welcome immigrants from the north. Hundreds of families were there back in May, sharing warmth, Mylar blankets, protein bars and bottled water. They also had very fashionable tents made from tarps and black plastic garbage bags.

Or better yet – what about Tijuana? Tijuana already has encampments and tents are legal. (Usually.)

San Diego’s unhoused could camp out in the plazas of our neighbor to the south. They’d have access to food trucks, easy walking distance to downtown and other amenities they’re denied up north – like tents.

Perhaps, even, some enterprising young bureaucrats on both sides of the border could collaborate and work out an exchange program — exchange our unhoused folks for the migrants waiting in Tijuana. Wouldn’t that be a sweet deal?

It’s only the lack of imagination that keeps such ideas from becoming reality.


{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Joni Halpern September 2, 2023 at 10:10 am

Thanks for pointing out the absurdity of these anti-camping ordinances. Underlying these ordinances is a cruelty that comes from years of neglect for all the causes poverty that inevitably result in homelessness. Nothing in current public policy in San Diego County will abate those causes.


Stu September 4, 2023 at 10:37 am

people are going to sleep somewhere Lets give some place to do that Maybe they (the homeless) can rotate to different spots 3 days here 3 days somewhere else better to give them a place than keep booting them hot. Then they will land on the side walks by city hall.
Oh wait there already there


sealintheSelkirks September 2, 2023 at 2:28 pm

“You Do You,” The War on Compassion

Humans don’t like feeling empathy. It hurts.

Psychologists at Princeton did a little experiment on empathy and compassion back in the 1970s. This is what they found out.



retired botanist September 2, 2023 at 7:27 pm

Ack, sigh, ugh. WTF? This is the ultimate, national NIMBY. Ok, so push them North? South? East? Can’t do West, or they’d end up in kayaks…which they clearly don’t have. Nevermind the fact that we can’t seem to adequately deal with our influx of immigrants, currently housed in deplorable detention centers, we can’t even provide better solutions for our own, domestic, homeless population?! This is our MOST shameful, American profile. I’m heartsick at this response to an urgent, domestic, humanitarian crisis. I call on the international community to chastise and insist that America do better on its solutions for homelessness. When are we going to stop relying on the goodwill of churches, tent cities, and other NGOs to provide for these folks? And, honestly? Don’t even start with complaints that you’re fed up with them peeing on your lawns, or dirtying up your doorways, b/c if you aren’t clamoring for the right solutions, you’re just part of the “shove off /not my problem” subset. I have always had some CA pride as a leader in liberal, problem solving, and this is NOT it. So cowboy up, Cali, we’re looking to you to set the right example…not this.


Chris September 3, 2023 at 11:43 am

“Don’t even start with complaints that you’re fed up with them peeing on your lawns, or dirtying up your doorways, b/c if you aren’t clamoring for the right solutions,”

It’s amazing how prominent that attitude has become even in Hillcrest of all places. We’ve had a couple instances in my alley where some homeless were brutally beaten and attacked by some fed up neighbors. One was arrested but charges dropped. Things like this are only going to increase sadly.


Will September 3, 2023 at 9:29 am

I used to have do much more empathy for the homeless and wish to see them housed as shelter is one of the most important needs we have. I have had many encounters with the homeless at my house that have hardened my view: a man urinating in my yard in direct view of my wife, a drugged out women ringing my doorbell at 1am asking for a ride, all sorts of litter, attempts to shelter on the sidewalk in front of my doorway, sleeping on my driveway and laying down in the alley. I’ve had to walk with my toddler in a busy street around sidewalk encampment. Then there are the homeless space cadets wandering around sports arena irregardless of traffic law who sometimes get him by motorists.

The new ordinance is not perfect but has brought noticeable change. I also think it is a sad irony that those who decry building denser and more affordable housing while worshiping the near requirement of automobile ownership in our communities are upset at a policy that pushes people to find services. We don’t have enough houses while there are others with multiple properties. The wealthiest country on earth has a problem with housing distribution and the types of structures we are allowed to build. American-style poverty is uniquely American.


Chris September 3, 2023 at 12:48 pm

The problem with the denser housing thing is that it won’t result in lower rents.


Mateo September 3, 2023 at 12:31 pm

While filming Todd Gloria’s “task force” ie; the first set of trash trucks and SDPD sent to dispose of what little the evicted have left, I spoke to an Officer off the record. He said. “We gave them 24 hours to remove their tents and things. Those that were capable just moved them directly accross the 2 lane street from the “homeless sweep.” Those that couldn’t move their stuff were the indigent ones, too elderly or crippled to move their things. That’t the stuff City Services are trashing.” Not only is it cruel, he then notioned his head looking back to where the sweep began. “It’s futile” he pointed out the homeless already moving their tents right back where they were prior to “the sweep”.
The City, the County, the State and the Mayors office spend less than 3-5% of their budgets on PREVENTION AND PROTECTING EXISTING AFFORDABLE HOUSING! There’s no money in it for them.
The now ongoing futile effort to try and gain the upperhand on the optics of misery of Gloria’s Corporate build-to-rent policies


sealintheSelkirks September 3, 2023 at 2:20 pm

You realize what was just said?

By default (if nothing else) the city is targeting the elderly and/or crippled who are now sitting on the sidewalk in that spot with no tent no blankets no clothing no water bottle no cook pan, just…nothing.

We treat stray dogs better. What does this REALLY say about San Diego?



Mateo September 4, 2023 at 2:59 am

“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”
– David Morrison


sealintheSelkirks September 5, 2023 at 1:07 pm

San Diego gets mentioned in this informative piece, and not in a good way but as a BAD example along with West Palm Beach and the state of Maryland:

Housing: How Do We Protect One of the Primary Essentials of Life?

Nobody in America should be without a home, and for society to work, housing costs must track incomes in a way that makes housing both available and affordable…
This article ties a lot of threads together into a coherent picture. Definitely worth reading and thinking on.



Geoff Page September 5, 2023 at 5:33 pm

The world is going to have to realize it will have to permanently support a large portion of its population because so much work people used to be able to do is gone and never coming back. Automation and AI have made many humans useless and will be making many more so. What is the solution?

Ironically, the solution harks back to the failed days of public housing from the 60s. The most well known failure was a place called Cabrini Green in Chicago. All that housing was eventually demolished because the developments were crime and drug dens. But, that kind of housing or something similar, is what is needed now.

There is an important difference between the 60s and today. Back then, people were on welfare and the expectation was they would look for work and get off it someday. They were looked down on by people as lazy moochers.

Today, there can no longer be the expectation of getting off the dole. This would be permanently supporting people in a humane manner with housing and an “income.” Build new SROs or other type of housing. Get people inside.

In order for this to work, society needs to see the economic upside. The comparison needs to be made of the cost to do this versus the costs we face today for law enforcement, healthcare costs, court costs, jail and prison costs, and drug rehabilitation costs to name a few.

And then, we as a nation, must be at peace with this reality. The alternative gets grimmer and grimmer every day.


Chris September 5, 2023 at 5:57 pm

I have a feeling that will never come to pass. The majority of people who will be working will never accept that those who will never be able to work will be deserving of their tax dollars just to survive. If you think we live in a have/have not world now, just wait.


Chris September 5, 2023 at 5:58 pm

I just don’t trust human nature to be very empathetic in the future.


nostalgic September 5, 2023 at 7:36 pm

When I go to the post office, and somebody is laying amidst his possessions kicking and screaming, what should I do? How do you want us to be empathetic? What is the right thing?


Chris September 6, 2023 at 6:47 am

I was really responding to Geoff’s analogy about a future society’s willingness to accept people permantly being on “the dole”.
To your question tho, I don’t have an answer. There simply may not be one.


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