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San Diego Council To Vote On Motel's Conversion To Transitional Housing

Tom Fudge
The Super8 motel on Palm Avenue in the Nestor district of San Diego. July 16, 2017.
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The San Diego City Council on Monday takes up a controversial plan to convert a Super8 motel to transitional housing for low-level offenders.

The Super8 is located in on Palm Avenue in the community of Nestor, a part of San Diego near Imperial Beach. It is planned to be used by the SMART program, which aims to help misdemeanor offenders, many of whom are homeless.


The plan to convert the motel passed San Diego's Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee on a 4-0 vote, but many people who live in the area are opposed to it.

City Councilman David Alvarez, who represents the area, has not taken a position on it, but his staff says the councilman does not think there's been enough public input on the plan. Alvarez also drafted a statement, warning the California Coastal Commission has expressed opposition to it.

A letter from a commission planner, released by Alvarez, said shutting down the motel would run contrary to existing policies that protect affordable lodgings for visitors.

"The development should include, as a condition of approval...some kind of mitigation to provide for the construction or funding for the establishment of lower-cost overnight visitor accommodations," said the letter from senior planner Diana Lilly.

Supporters of the plan to convert the motel say the Super8 is already a problem for the area, with a history of police calls for prostitution and drug activity.


"Only 20 percent of the people in this hotel are tourists," said Barbara Bry, vice chairman of the committee that approved the city's plan. "So the SMART program is bringing an improvement to the community."

The SMART program is aimed at helping misdemeanor offenders who cycle through the criminal justice system. The City of San Diego has received a $6 million grant from the state to address the problem with that population, many of whom were released from prison or jail as a result of Proposition 47.