Tuesday, September 21, 2010
SAN DIEGO A push to build a permanent homeless services center downtown, and carry out other projects to get people off the street, may be under way. But that hasn’t saved City Council from its annual fight over where to locate a temporary winter homeless shelter.
San Diego City Council members voted last night to put off making a decision on where to locate this year’s emergency shelter.
Neighborhood residents turned out to oppose the proposed site at G and 13th streets. This would be the fourth year the city’s emergency shelter was located in the East Village.
Some opponents said they were frustrated about more than the location.
“Calling this an emergency shelter is a misnomer," said David Hazan, president of the East Village Association. "An emergency is when something unexpected happens. We know there is going to be a need for a winter shelter every year, but we wait until the 11th hour to address the issue.”
Councilmembers Kevin Faulconer and Carl Demaio voiced their opposition to locating the shelter in the East Village again. They said the community has done more than its fair share to support services for the homeless.
This is the first year the shelter program is being overseen by the San Diego Housing Commission. Councilmembers asked commission staff members to reconsider locations that were dropped from the list of prospective sites and to review crime statistics for the area surrounding last year's winter shelter.
Councilman Todd Gloria argued in favor of approving the location at 13th and G streets.
"The desire to go looking for another site, that perfect site, is understandable but it's a waste of time," Gloria said. "Sometimes when you look for a unicorn and you don't find one, it's because it doesn't exist."
The Housing Commission and its partner organizations hope to open the shelter by Thanksgiving. The council will take up the issue of where to locate it again on October 4.