Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Watch Live


Marines: Miramar a no-go for proposed homeless camp, Sunbreak Ranch

The uninhabited eastern portion of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar is not a suitable site for a proposed homeless camp, the base commander said Monday.

Col. Thomas Bedell, the commanding officer of the base, pointed to several obstacles to the proposed "Sunbreak Ranch" location in a letter to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria.

The area is home to shooting ranges and unexploded ordnance from the area's use as a live-fire range in World War II.


It's also under the aircraft approach for the base and the site of four crashes in the last 20 years, the letter said. Risks to endangered wildlife and of wildfire were also mentioned.

The section of the base sprawls eastward for miles from Interstate 15, between State Hwy. 52 to the south and Scripps Ranch to the north.

The Sunbreak Ranch concept was introduced by co-founder George Mullen and NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton in a January Times of San Diego op-ed. Walton, who lives in San Diego, has been a vocal critic the city's attempts to get people off the streets.

"Most of us can no longer walk or bicycle our downtown city streets, sidewalks, and parks without facing an obstacle course of tents, bodies, human excrement, needles, trash, and a slew of walking-zombies that are impossible to distinguish between which ones are just down on their luck, and which ones are out-of-control substance abusers about to attack us," Mullen and Walton wrote in the op-ed.

The concept has earned endorsements from several San Diego business leaders, realtors, developers and civic organizations, according to its website.

The Sunbreak Ranch architectural layout is seen in this undated illustration.
Davy Architecture, Inc.
The Sunbreak Ranch architectural layout is seen in this undated illustration.

Mullen said the capacity of the proposed ranch would allow law enforcement to enforce the public camping ban approved in June.

"If we provide a Sunbreak Ranch that's a clean healthy, safe, secure, place for everyone at all times — where there's a bed for everyone at all times — then we can turn to the rule of law on all of our streets, canyons and public parks," Mullen said.

He said the concept isn't meant to be permanent housing and compared it to camps run by the Federal Emergency Management Agency after natural disasters. The camp would connect people with services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment.

“There’s people dying all over our streets," Mullen said. "So this is a concept to triage everyone — get them off the streets, canyons and public parks into a place where they can be diagnosed and directed to where is going to best help them.”

More than 10,000 San Diegans are currently experiencing homelessness — an increase of 14 percent from 2022 — according to the latest annual San Diego Regional Task Force on Homelessness count.

Despite the Marine Corps' resistance to the proposal, Mullen said the base location is still in play, noting in an emailed statement that the base commander isn't the "top of the chain-of-command."

An alternative site in Otay Mesa is also a possibility, Mullen said.