Reader Rant: ‘If the Homeless Were at H Barracks, They Wouldn’t Be in Park Restrooms’

by on November 7, 2023 · 9 comments

in Homelessness, Ocean Beach, San Diego

More on the Discussion about city plans for “H Barracks”

By Anonymous Commenter

I begin with this historical note. When the Naval Training Center closed, there was a federal law (I think it was McKenny-Vento) that required cities who were taking over federal military base property to include facilities and housing for the homeless as a priority. So plans to provide transitional housing for individuals and families who were homeless were publicized.

First, Point Loma residents voiced their fury, using the same arguments that we now hear of theft, needles, drugs, madness placing their children at risk. However, at the heart of Point Loma’s concern was their own dislike and fear of the homeless and their fear of property values being adversely affected. So the City entered an agreement with the seven or so “major charities” to exclude such housing and the nonprofit organizations who would provide and manage the proposed housing and other services for homeless persons and families. In return, the city made monetary and alternate land use promises, some of which were never kept. But the Point Loma folks won. Not a bit of that property went to care for the homeless.

Neither Ocean Beach nor Point Loma has ever widely accepted the notion that homeless persons are persons. These folks have no reliable data to support this notion, but they insist that all homeless people are crazy or drug-ridden, which is absolutely untrue. The rising numbers of sober, rational human beings who are losing housing and living in their cars or on the streets are growing. And the sad thing is that people who have a stable roof over their heads and Thanksgiving tables groaning with food will thank the Lord in solemn voices for their bounty — as if God himself gave this abundance to them and denied it to those whose homes were lost to despair.

If we housed 700 homeless persons in those barracks [or facilities] with the services they need near at hand, they would not be in the bathroom of a park without their pants. They would not be in the bushes outside our fences, or underneath the bridges, or hovering in wild growth outside our Little League park along Nimitz Blvd. They would be in temporary housing, where at least someone would want them, care for them, and help them get to a better place.

Shame on all of us who have let this backlog of housing for the poor become so large. As if protecting our children from discovering the hardship we have acquiesced in over many years will strengthen the kids when they go out in the world.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Ron May November 7, 2023 at 7:51 pm

I agree with the Reader’s Rant. The H-Barracks are separated from Liberty Station residents by a channel of water, a bridge over Harbor Boulevard, and the San Diego Airport. Those buildings can be economically adapted to residential housing with toilet and kitchen facilities, trash receptacles, and the City can provide mental and medical assistance. This is enormously better than condemning them to tent city and will go far to solve the homeless situation over on Point Loma.


Judy Collier November 8, 2023 at 7:15 am

Personally, I could care less about whether some document requires or does not require housing for our unhoused citizens. On my almost daily walks in Ocean Beach, I walk past people in need of housing. Housing people in need in unused former government owned buildings seems like a good idea to me.


lyle November 8, 2023 at 7:18 am

I agree that barracks-style living quarters would be vastly better than tents. They would provide people with an adequate place to live and would look a lot nicer next to airport and hotels than would a tent city. However I see no evidence that the H barracks could be “economically adapted”. I’m not prepared to beat on you by listing all the difficulties other than to point out the cities success in renovating 101 Ash street, and the bus maintenance building.


lyle November 8, 2023 at 7:26 am

It just dawned on me that many people would consider Barracks-style quarters to be a big room with lots of bunks in it. I would consider the more modern concept which is similar to a college dorm where occupants have their own space to secure their selves and belongings.

Gang-style barracks would not necessarily be better than tents, since individual tents do at least provide a little privacy.


Chris November 9, 2023 at 4:32 am

As you read and saw on the news, the barracks buildings are gong to be torn down.


J November 7, 2023 at 11:20 pm

Can you please provide sources for the information you provide in this write up? I would be interested to learn about homeless requirements in the original Liberty Station plan. I do not see any references to provable facts so we have to assume all of your comments are false until you can prove differently.


FrankF November 8, 2023 at 8:15 am

“If we housed 700 homeless persons in those barracks [or facilities] with the services they need near at hand, they would not be in the bathroom of a park without their pants. They would not be in the bushes outside our fences, or underneath the bridges, or hovering in wild growth outside our Little League park along Nimitz Blvd.”

This is a false assumption. Putting a roof over a homeless person’s head and providing them services doesn’t necessarily cure them of their ills or their poverty.

What we do know is that neighborhoods that surround other shelters such as Father Joe’s or the Neil Good Center are hellscapes of despair, not because of the homeless services provider, but because of homeless persons who don’t want to follow the rules of the shelter and chose to live just outside the center’s doors and predators who sell drugs to the homeless in the shelter.

If the city is considering using the H barracks for homeless housing, they must also plan on the unintended consequences of having a shelter in that neighborhood.


LBruce November 8, 2023 at 4:09 pm

For many of us on the PL-OB peninsula, it’s not providing shelter for the homeless that’s the problem. It’s providing for so many. We have numerous shelters both existing and proposed on Midway, Rosecrans and Sports Arena that serve 30 – 150 residents EACH. Now the City with its typical “ram it down their throats” approach says peninsula residents must bear seven HUNDRED? In one location? Oh and add radical density to the Midway district and even more at the Navwar property adjacent to that? And let’s not forget SB 10 where the Strong Mayor sought to decimate our historical neighborhoods with completely over-scaled 10-unit apartment buildings on single-family lots. It’s a lot for residents to swallow – especially all at once. And the City, not known for its smarts or its prowess in negotiating with developers (to say the least), expects us to have confidence in their, “Trust me; I know what I’m doing” attitude? You have got to be kidding.


Bruce Coons November 8, 2023 at 7:57 pm

Nobody is talking about adaptively reusing the barracks, which would make some sense. The plan is to demo the barracks and replace it with asphalt, then put up tents and “safe parking” and some sprung buildings.


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