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Journalists discuss San Diego's homeless camping ban

 June 16, 2023 at 1:09 PM PDT

S1: This week on Kpbs roundtable. San Diego will soon have a new law that proponents say will address increases in homelessness and get more encampments off of streets.

S2: Mayor Gloria made this a huge priority to get passed. But what I keep coming back to is that the impact is still yet to be determined.

S1: The ordinance prohibits encampments in public spaces if shelter beds are available. Some sensitive areas will have stricter enforcement.


S1: We're breaking it all down. Don't go anywhere. Roundtable is coming up next. Welcome to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. San Diego will soon have a new law that proponents say will address increases in homelessness. In a 5 to 4 vote , the San Diego City Council passed the unsafe camping ordinance. That was after a marathon session on Tuesday night with more than 200 public speakers. This ordinance prohibits homeless encampments in public spaces if shelter beds are available. It also banned ten encampments at all times in certain sensitive areas like schools , transit centers and near homeless shelters. Here's what San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria had to say during that marathon council session.

S4: There's no question that we're facing an acute crisis , one that has been building over decades as our housing shortage became more acute. And there's no question that solving homelessness itself has become a more complex puzzle to solve.

S1: This public camping ban is just the latest effort in the city of San Diego that leaders have taken with the rise in homelessness in the city. The vote comes just days after the Regional Task Force on Homelessness released their 2023 point in time count data that found that the unsheltered population in San Diego rose by at least 19% in the city. Here to help us unpack all of this , the city council vote , maybe its impact and reaction to it. We're joined by Lisa Halberstadt. She's a senior investigative reporter with the voice of San Diego. And Gary Worth is here again with us. He covers homelessness issues with the San Diego Union Tribune. And we know you guys have both been here on roundtable before. We're so glad you guys are here to help break this down because there's a lot going on. And I'm sure you guys were up pretty late watching that meeting on Tuesday night. It was like something eight hours of testimony and it finished just before like 11:00 that night on Tuesday. Curious question for both of you guys to start out , initial takeaways to this camping ordinance , which passed , but but barely 5 to 4.

S2: Well , I mean , Mayor Gloria made this a huge priority to get passed , But would I keep coming back to is that the impact is still yet to be determined. He , the mayor himself has told me in a colleague that this won't be an overnight success , that the ramp up is going to be gradual. But then he also said at a press conference on Wednesday that this could be the end of the era of encampments. That's a pretty big promise. Meanwhile , the lives of both people that are housed and unhoused could be impacted by this quite a bit. Um , I think there's just lots of waiting and wondering between now and the actual implementation time , which will be likely late August or I should say. Let me correct that. And between now and the implementation time , which is likely late July or early August , still much to be determined.

S1: And Gary , your initial thoughts here.

S3: Just think it kind of shows a frustration that everyone has right now on both sides. You know , there's been a lot of efforts to try to address homelessness. There really has been some progress. They've made some different types of decisions with with shelters. But , you know , what we're seeing on the street still looks really bad. So I think it's just to address a crisis that people see on the street after after trying a lot of other things. And when you look at the numbers , too , it's it's interesting to see that even though it's at an all time high , it's not like a drastic jump over the years. And in fact , the number of people that are unsheltered is actually not as great as it was in a couple of other years , within the past decade , though. But it just looks really bad and there's more people dying out on the street. So there's just a sense that we got to try something new and something drastic and maybe this will work , though. You know , there's there's a lot of issues with it. There could be some legal challenges with it. I think people are not going to be happy when they don't see something changing overnight. But , you know , it's just it's just maybe a different approach and we'll see what happens.

S1: And there was a lot of people speaking on both sides of it. You talked about how sort of everybody I think the polling shows homelessness. One of the top issues , Gary , a lot of people were at this council meeting speaking out for and against like 200 speakers.

S3: And and then just on the other side , people making some realistic arguments that , look , there's there's not enough shelter space to really enforce this as aggressively as you think you might. Even with the opening of a couple of new types of shelters , there are still going to be hundreds and hundreds of people on the street that won't fit into what they're offering now. And we're kind of losing , you know , not keeping pace with with the growing number of homeless people. Just today , the regional Task Force on on Homelessness issued another report that showed like twice as many people fell into homelessness as were housed. I think it was like 600 to 1200. So. You know , there's there's just that side of it , too , that what are you really going to do ? And , and except end up shuffling people around like especially when they got the 24 over seven rule in some places and literally across the street , that rule won't be enforced.

S1: And we're going to get.

S3: Into all that because there's these boundaries.

S1: Oh , and we're going to get into all that coming up here in a minute. But Lisa , there was I think I remember what they call it. It's like legislating from the dais or legislating from the bench. There was a lot of last minute changes. There was a couple breaks there at the end. But some of those changes were about parks and beaches.

S2: There had been an amendment. Initially it covered just a handful of parks. But Councilwoman Vivian Moreno , who represents areas including Barrio Logan and San Ysidro , had wanted to cover all parks. But then there were some concerns that have been flagged by the Independent Budget Analysts Office and others that the city would really need to show a strong public health and safety risk to be able to ban camps and sensitive areas like parks when when shelter isn't available , which , you know , as you talked about , there are areas that people will be banned from staying at all times. And so Councilwoman Marty Von Wolpert ultimately proposed an amendment to have the ordinance just cover parks where the city can show a clear public health and safety risk tied to homeless camps in a park. So we don't know yet which parks will be covered by this. Now , what city officials said is they now will be looking at get it done complaints and other information to determine what parks should be covered. And then , as you mentioned , two Councilman Joe LaCava added some language to clarify that people are banned from camping on beaches at all times. Those were the most significant changes. But I should note to that council President Shawn E La Rivera and also LaCava and Ron Will part two also had added some different sorts of language to kind of track the ordinances impacts that have more oversight. The council president had pushed for data looking at the racial breakdowns of who is impacted. That ended up being kind of a tense conversation. But ultimately there will be breakdowns that show , you know , who who is being cited and arrested and it will have information on the race of those people.

S1: And that final vote was 5 to 4. And Gary , you talked about the lack of available shelter beds. It was something that came up over and over again in this meeting and even that city report that was presented to them. You know , that city report often noted that beds are not available , shelter beds. And there's like even like dozens of times a day when when there's none available.


S3: Would it not work ? Well , the city attorney's office says that will work , that , you know , there's there's a ruling Martin V Boise ruling that basically says that you can't cite somebody for sleeping in public if there's no other place for them to go. So you have to have some kind of shelter alternative. But they're interpreting it to to mean that there are cases where you don't have to follow that for public safety reasons. And in this version of the ordinance says , you know , it's two blocks around shelters and around schools and it's all city parks and waterways and now beaches and the riverbed and just saying that these areas are public safety issues and we are going to be able to enforce this. And and also , there's an earlier ruling that the city had or earlier settlement this city , and that allowed people to sleep outside after 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.. But that's not going to be allowed in these areas also. But what about.


S3: And because there's these boundaries on areas , those boundaries got to stop someplace. So you get to that place where that boundary is. Then you just move just outside the boundary. And that's what the fear is about this pitting neighborhood against neighborhood and or pitting one side of the street against the other. A You know , in some senses , because , you know , these these boundaries , they're within two blocks. And , you know , we were on a street where J Street , just north , two blocks north of the Alpha Project shelter. And there's there's encampments on both sides of the street. So now there will only be allowed at night on one side of the street. So that sort of looks problematic and a challenging for people who have to deal with that. And and it does look like if they were to enforce it by the book , how it reads that people would just move across the street at night.

S1: And Lisa , I know you've done a lot of reporting on this in terms of like maybe who would be enforcing it. It sounds like it would be the police department.

S2: Unclear how many parks we're talking about right now , but the police have said right now that they have the neighborhood policing division , which is really the lead for this sort of enforcement. And what I'm told is that they'll have patrol officers sort of backfilling more often. So following up in an area to make sure that folks don't return. But , you know , there are a lot of questions about whether they have the resources to actually do this. The police have said , you know , they have this plan , but Voice of San Diego has done some reporting. I have done some reporting on just the police department struggles to respond as it is to calls because of their staffing issues and and to respond in a timely manner. And so there are lots of questions about whether they have the bandwidth to do this. I know that the police department is confident with these new safe campsites that they will have additional locations for people to go. And that certainly facilitates the enforcement in some ways. But there's a lot to watch for. And , you know , it's not as straightforward as some people might think when it comes to the enforcement.

S1: And , Gary , that enforcement is not going to start right away because we know that the implementation of this ban will one , it requires a second council vote has to be signed into law by the mayor. But , you know , Lisa mentioned this a little bit earlier. It's not going to be immediate. And we know that that's because in part they have to open up at least one of these safe sleeping sites and they're actually planning to open two safe sleeping sites , the city that is near Balboa Park. And Gary , you've reported that's going to be 500 spaces , 510 sites.

S3: And we're told that will open on July 1st. And from one of the amendments that was added to the ordinance on Tuesday was that enforcement wouldn't start until at least 30 days after that one opens. And there's going to be a second reading of the ordinance that's still required , and that's scheduled for June 27th now. So , yeah , it's it's wouldn't start until at least late in July. And by then that that new safe sleeping site , which is like a campground , will be open but it'll be interesting you know by the time it opens and 30 days goes by , how many of those spots will already be taken ? Although that's going to be the first place that people are being referred to. And so but there's , like I said , 130 something spaces and there's going to be another one opening with , I think around like 400 extra spaces. And that's on something called the oh lot by the Naval Hospital , and that's going to open later this summer though. So , you know , people will be referred to there. So that's that's the progress of when these things are going to open. And as it was explained at the council meeting , they're doing what's called progressive enforcement , which they say they've always done. And this will be three encounters with people. One , a warning with a offer for shelter bed. The second time would be a misdemeanor , you know , and citation. And then the third will be a custodial arrest again with each time people being offered some kind of shelter. And that's the tough part of what the enforcement is.

S1: And Lisa , go ahead.

S2: I do have one correction on the timing of the the second camp open. My understanding is that won't be open until sometime this fall. And that's the much more substantial site with as many as 400 available sites.

S3: So July 1st for that first first one , sometime , I thought we said August or something.

S2: September , they might have at some point , but I know they're definitely now saying for some time.

S1: I think the Bears said at one point like last week , that they could stand those both those sites up in a few weeks should they be able to. But , Lisa , even if they once they do stand up those two sites , I mean , bottom line , they still don't have enough shelter beds for the number of people that are on the streets. And it was interesting to me to hear that those tent sites wouldn't even be counted as shelter spaces. So , like , if they're doing enforcement that doesn't count toward like the available beds. But that aside , are there other shelter beds on the horizon for the city ? It sounds like they might be losing some , but they have a plan to bring some back. Yes.

S2: Yes. So we'll talk first about the losses and then we can talk about what they're they're looking at trying to to get. So about 930 shelter beds will have to shut down from their current location by the end of 2024. That includes the 16th and Newton tent shelter that I know a lot of folks think about. And also the Golden Hall shelter and especially they're , you know , about 300 men who now sleep on the first floor of the of Golden Hall that they have to figure out to relocate. So that's total about 600 or so beds within the 930 or those two locations. So the city is going to have to hustle to find locations they have talked about this past week , maybe moving the Barrio Logan Bridge shelter to barracks at the Naval training center. And apparently that could accommodate up to 700 beds or two large tent shelters. They also have said that another 300 beds or so could be in warehouses or , you know , they've also looked at vacant religious facilities or Camp Barrett , which is a property that they have at Alpine. They're also looking at expanding safe parking lots. But the bottom line , I think , is it's important for people to understand is as it stands now , we definitely have a shortage of shelter beds. So on an average day , the city of San Diego now only has about 23 beds available for a unsheltered population that is almost 3300in the city of San Diego. And many folks wait and struggle to get beds. And in recent history , you know , when you look at shelter referrals , you know , an instance of somebody , you know , accepting a shelter , requesting it , more than two thirds of those referrals do not result in someone getting a bed an average week. And when we start to look at the number of people , for example , you know , Path gave some pretty stark information to me for a story where they basically said in one week , I believe it was 118 people came to the Homelessness Response Center downtown to try to get shelter and 15 got shelter. So that's a shelter shortage and there are a lot of people that do want it. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And Lisa , I think some of your articles were actually mentioned up there on the dais as they were debating this ordinance. But Gary , piggybacking on what Lisa was just saying there , so if there's not enough shelter beds , has the city said what they're going to do to be able to enforce kind of the second part of this ordinance , the no camping at all public spaces when shelter beds are available ? It sounds like they're going to be , you know , losing shelter beds , maybe even up to a thousand in the next few months.

S3: But again , that's. You're probably going to fill up eventually and they'll have to find some more shelter beds and yeah , and that's always been the hardest part about opening shelters is finding a spot for them though. And also commenting on something Lisa pointed out was that the number of people who attempt to get into shelters and are turned away , you know , kind of counters the perception that people are service resistant , as it's called , although people are trying to get in shelters all the time. And there's this perception that we're going to force them to go into shelters and they don't want to go in. And we really don't have enough shelter beds for the ones who who do want to go in now , though. So , you know , what what what's kind of encouraging to me was seeing this shelter strategy report that they had that showed the looking at warehouses , which they hadn't done before. It's like , well , like maybe there's other places you can be looking for shelters. They can religious facilities , expanding the parking lots that they have just any little way that they can of expanding it , though it just seems to take so long to open up a shelter. And then sometimes it's it's such a small increment , like over at the central library when they they open up a shelter for women. And that was , I think , a six month. Lack of a pilot one. So , you know , there's there's not a big impact that they're they're making. And again , they they've got to relocate like 930 beds , you know , within the next year and a half. So they've you'll kind of got a hold out there and they've got to dig themselves out of that , though , just to try to get some more shelter beds available to be able to make this enforcement work.

S1: We'd like to hear your thoughts about the public camping ban. Leave us a comment at (619) 452-0228 or you can email us at Roundtable at Coming up or answering some of our audience's questions and listening to their comments about the ban.

S6: I wanted to express my deep frustration with this particular new ordinance that has come and would be even more upset if I thought it was actually going to do anything.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about the public camping ban that was passed this week by the San Diego City Council. I'm speaking with Lisa Halberstadt from Voice of San Diego and the San Diego Union Tribune. Gary Worth. Now , I think the last time we had you guys on talking about this very story , we put a call out to our audience asking for some questions. We did it again and we got quite a few responses and we'll throw some of these to you guys. And we appreciate your expertise in helping answer some of these. Michelle wrote in to us. She said , and Lisa , this will go to you.

S2: Although I'll explain some of the complications with that , but also belongings. And they've tried to make it easier for people to come and go. But some shelters still have curfews a lot of times. So if you have a couple that's coming in , once a guy one's a girl , they cannot stay on the same side of the shelter , which could be a problem for some folks. Not all pets are necessarily friendly to shelters. I know some of us probably have pets that don't play so well with others , so sometimes that can be a challenge. And there are also are limits on the belongings that people can take in. And also , people just have different situations like they may have PTSD or , you know , suffer from insomnia or have trouble sleeping. And so being in a shelter can make that difficult for them.

S1: And Michelle also wondered and Gary will throw this one to you.

S3: And again , it's it's always around the same percent , 80% this year said that they became homeless in San Diego and it doesn't mean that they became homeless in San Diego this year , though , or that or that 20% of them , you know , just just arrived. It could be that somebody , you know , arrived five years ago and they're so homeless and they were homeless when they got here. So it doesn't mean that 20% of our population just arrived in our homeless. But , you know , we know that mostly people stay are homeless where they lived. I live in Oceanside and the people that I know who are homeless up here are from Oceanside or from Vista. And when I talk to people , you know , on 17th Street , I talked to a lot of San Diego natives , though. So the growing homeless population doesn't mean that people who are homeless are moving here. Yes , that does happen. It's a free country. People can move to San Diego , though housed or not housed. And I've known people who have who were homeless and they they came to San Diego because they , you know , thought they'd rather be here. But overall , it's just not true that our homeless population is statistically affected because homeless people have moved here.

S1: And we also have a voicemail from Pat Green here in San Diego.


S1: Do we know if there's an answer to that ? Yes.

S2: I've spent a lot of time on the 101 ash debacle as well. This is a question I get a lot. I would say the city is considering whether warehouses or various different city properties could be used as shelters or even housing. And in some cases , as with the old Central library that Gary mentioned earlier , the city has moved forward. But one of why Ash is a complicated case. It has some asbestos issues that need to be remediated before anyone could move in. And the city is also looking at it as part of its upcoming city hall redevelopment effort. So it really doesn't want to try to pursue shelter there. I have heard , you know , behind the scenes some ideas being batted about , but nothing ever has come to fruition.

S1: And either of you can jump on this next one. It's from one of our audience members , Maricela Soto. She wants to know , does the city of San Diego plan on making more Section eight vouchers more accessible and available ? What if someone is on the verge of becoming homeless ? What then ? And I'm not sure if you guys I don't believe there was any of that mentioned part of this ordinance. But you guys know.

S2: So what I can say is that the city has lobbied for more Section eight vouchers. For now , it's common for folks to wait literally a decade to get a voucher. And these vouchers are not the golden tickets that they once were because of the rising rents. That we're seeing If someone is on the verge of homelessness , though , the city and the county are increasingly trying to link them with subsidies to try to help the hold on to their homes , But they're also aren't enough slots as far as those are concerned.

S1: We received another comment from Matt Stevens. He says he lives in Santee and works as a social worker with the homeless population. Here's what he had to say.

S6: I wanted to express my deep frustration with this particular new ordinance that has come and would be even more upset if I thought it was actually going to do anything and had any actual funding. The ordinance is based on prohibiting camping in areas where there is shelter beds. It's not viable because there's not nearly enough shelter beds to match the current level of homelessness.

S1: Both of you guys can take a stab at this if you want.

S3: There is concern about a strain on resources. The the the neighborhood policing division that includes ten homeless outreach officers. You know , they they're dealing with like 800 to 1000 calls every week. And now they're going to have to step up enforcement to this. So , you know , there is a perception that , wow , this this could be a strain on resources , but we don't know how much of a strain it is yet. They're they're not allocating any additional officers or money to do the increased enforcement. So so , yeah , it is an issue that people have already brought up.



S1: Here's another comment. This one comes from Maria Ayala from Nestor.

S8: I just find it astounding that there are no programs currently set in place to prevent people with medical conditions from becoming homeless in the first place.

S1: Do either of you know anything about that ? Are there programs in terms of people with specific medical conditions to address homelessness ? And I know Shani La Rivera kind of touched on some of this , right , of maybe why he was a no here , Lisa.

S2: Well , I would say Maria has identified something that , you know , I want to spend more time reporting on myself. The city and the county have both identified. This is a challenge , you know , that we have a growing population of people who are disabled and or seniors who are falling into homelessness or at risk of homelessness. There is some talk of putting a senior section at the O la that safe campground we talked about. But this is a massive challenge because a lot of these folks , if they do fall into homelessness , they can't necessarily perform activities of daily living. That means like showering on your own , eating , going to the bathroom on your own , being able to get around on your own. And shelters often cannot accept them. And , you know , we also have folks , many of whom who are relying on limited retirement income or disability income that really just has not kept pace with growing costs. So there are a lot more people that are on the brink here. The city and the county have introduced some shallow subsidy programs to try to help people from falling into homelessness , like I said a few moments ago , but they're not really targeted specifically at disabled people. They are. However , some of the programs focused on aiding seniors.

S3: You know , the closest I know to what she's talking about for homeless prevention is a shadow subsidy program that came about after a serving seniors survey found that just a few hundred bucks a month would keep people from falling into homelessness. So they did start , I believe it was in March , a shadow subsidy program just for that , and that was homeless prevention. But I don't know of anything about medical conditions. So close as I recall about that was years ago when they started Project 25 , but that was for people who are already on the street and it was more cost effective to just fund a housing for them if they were using emergency rooms. I remember this one gentleman who , you know , had some serious medical conditions and he was taken by an ambulance to the E.R. So often it cost like $1 million a year. So it was cheaper to put him into in a housing and with some which with some health care. But as far as , you know , almost prevention that she's talking about , that's that's something I think just all around that everyone could do a better job of.

S1: And finally , we have one from Paul Lay Kind. He wrote in and asked us this. As a resident of East Village , I'm confronted with the sad state of affairs regarding the unhoused on a daily basis. While I have compassion for the unhoused , especially individuals that would accept shelter if offered and for the neurologically challenged downtown residents and business owners are also victims of the crisis. I support the ban because I believe it puts pressure on the city to find solutions.

S3: That's the big unknown , though , and that people may be disappointed when they don't see any overnight change after after so much discussion. So , you know , I'm thinking of a pilot program that was announced , a couple of million bucks that were spending to clear out encampments around E Street. And a gentleman contacted me and said , we were so excited to hear about that. How come there are still encampments here ? And I pointed out to him , like , read that article again. It's a two year program. Thought they weren't going to disappear overnight. But I think a lot of public you know , they might just , you know , on the surface something big has happened. These are outlawed now. So we can just sit back and watch them all disappear and homelessness will be solved. And if anyone thinks that , they're going to be disappointed.

S1: If you have more questions or comments about the public camping ban , leave us a voicemail at (619) 452-0228. You can also email us at Roundtable at Coming up , how some say this ordinance represents a change in tone from the mayor's office.

S2: There really has been a dramatic shift from when Mayor Gloria was campaigning.

S1: You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. You're listening to Kpbs Roundtable. I'm Matt Hoffman. We're talking about San Diego's public camping ban. We have the voice of San Diego's Lisa Haverstock with us and the Union-Tribune , Gary Worth. Lisa , San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria , he seemed to sort of toughen his stance on homelessness recently , you know , really pushing for this safe camping ban. And it's maybe the clearest example of that toughened stance. Have you heard from those , you know , who either work in this space to address homelessness or maybe even other politicos here in San Diego if they've been surprised by this perceived shift , you know , not only in tone , but maybe policy as we're seeing.

S2: Oh , they absolutely have. There really has been a dramatic shift from when Mayor Gloria was campaigning. He actually , you know , said his predecessor , Kevin Faulconer at the time , who was still mayor , should stop criminalizing the unsheltered. And a lot of folks on the left , people who worked in the homelessness field , housing field , really thought , wow , you know , there's going to be a big shift in Mayor Gloria's approach. There's going to be a focus on housing and that certainly the mayor has been interested in in housing. He likes to call himself the mayor. But as he's gotten into office , you know , he's really had to grapple with business owners and folks in the neighborhoods throughout the city who are just really , as Gary said at the top of our show here today that are feeling overwhelmed by the impacts of homelessness , tense public defecation , tense interactions. And so , you know , he then has shifted. And that's really created a lot of frustration among some folks who voted for him , thinking that he was going to take a different approach. Now , the mayor would say , hey , I'm still in the same camp with these folks who are pro housing first to really want to focus on on getting folks into housing. But he has taken a tougher tone. And it is different than where he was at the beginning of his administration. Yeah.

S3: Yeah. Also , remember , just like a year ago or so , he was saying the same thing. We've got to we've got to do more to clear out these. This is unacceptable. We we have to be more aggressive. We can't let people just live on on sidewalks , though. And , you know , he but even after saying that they you know , whatever stepped up efforts they have , they still have a lot of people living on sidewalks , though. And , you know , in all the years that I've known him , he goes back to one of the first people was really raising homelessness as an issue. You know , so everything Lisa says is right about the perception about seeing to have a change in stance. However , he will say this is a compassionate approach. It's not compassionate to let people stay on the street. We have to do what we can to get them off the street where they're dying into a safer environment and connected to housing and shelters. So in his tone , he hasn't changed. He's he's still going to say that what he's doing is a compassionate approach.

S1: And Gary , earlier in the show , you mentioned the possibility of legal challenges to this ordinance.

S3: And the city is going to say that we can do that on certain areas. It's not like a blanket prohibition in the entire city. It's just we're picking these these areas and they can go to other areas , though. But for the guy that gets arrested for being in the park and he doesn't want to go downtown where he might be able to , you know , legally have a tent , he might have a claim that this is not legal to do. So just , you know , on the surface , I see that as one of the challenges that they could be raised.

S1: And finally , as we wrap up here , a question for both of you.

S2: Um , you know , I have marked my calendar for the end of July , early August time frame for when the implementation of this ordinance will go into effect and really will be watching and trying to understand the mechanics of how all of this will work. If there are resources attached to it , which parks are covered by this ? Which ones aren't ? Are there any equity issues there ? And then obviously going forward , I know Gary and I will both be watching to see what is the actual impact of this ordinance and how does the community reacting to that.

S1: Gary , you have the final word.

S3: Where are they going to put. Signage for what parks would be , the ones that they do enforce , How are they going to interpret what a public safety issue is in a park that that should be the one that they enforce ? And so definitely looking at IT enforcement. But I'm also very interested to see where they're going to be siting some new shelters. Yes.

S2: Yes.

S1: And we're going to have to end it there for this week's edition of Kpbs Roundtable. And I want to thank our guests , Lisa Halberstadt from Voice of San Diego and Gary Wirth from the San Diego Union Tribune , two of the top minds and reporters when it comes to homelessness in San Diego. Both of you , thanks so much for being here.

S9: Thanks for inviting us. Thanks.

S1: And now it's time for the roundtable roundup where we take a look at some other top stories that are happening here in San Diego. And with us to help go over those stories is Kpbs roundtable producer Andrew Bracken. Andrew , what's up ? Hey , Matt , great to have you here.

S10: And something else that affects the homeless population is we've seen our second death from hepatitis A in San Diego for the year. And that comes , you know , a few years after Hep A outbreak that I think you covered quite a bit. So I know , you know , the city is starting to respond to this to make sure it doesn't happen again , what we saw a few years ago.

S1: Yeah , that was back in 2017 , like nearly 600 cases , 20 people died. And as you sort of alluded to , that was a majority among people experiencing homelessness , which is where we've seen these elevated number of cases , 30 cases reported so far this year. They usually see some of them , but it's a little bit elevated , hasn't been declared an outbreak. This one this year has to be three or more connected cases. They've had two of them connected , but the majority of those people have been people experiencing homelessness. The county health officials say they are treating this like it's an outbreak to try to prevent the further spread. We've seen the city of San Diego put up some hand-washing stations , some bathrooms , but yeah , really kind of one of those all hands on deck where , you know , we know that there's people living out in the streets. They don't want this to spread because those who are homeless may be more vulnerable or have worse outcomes from catching hepatitis A.

S10: He owns several major sports teams. He owns the NBA's Denver Nuggets , the Los Angeles Rams , also Arsenal , which is a major English soccer club. So he took a large stake in this Midway Rising project in the sports arena. So I'm just curious to see , you know , what does that mean for that for that development project ? I mean , obviously he brings a lot of funding. Yeah , a lot of money to make it happen. But I've already seen Bryce Miller , a columnist in the UT. He had a column kind of telling everybody to relax about it. Doesn't mean , you know , another sports franchises coming to San Diego. But I'm just curious what it means for that project. I thought they.

S1: Said , though , maybe it could be like an NHL or NBA team that that building could hold. But you got to think there's , you know , basketball teams and hockey teams that are already just north of us.

S10: Well , the plans don't include a stadium for that. Now. It includes , you know , I think it's like a 16 , 16,000 seat , you know , theater for concerts and things like that. So I don't know. I think there's a lot of missing pieces there. But again , you know , maybe maybe the plans will change , but.

S1: Well , the plans are already changing. I didn't know that a developer could come in like mid project or like after , you know , of this being selected and , you know , and you've got to wonder , you know , I don't know how plugged in people are with these projects. I'm certainly not that plugged in. But , you know , Stan Kroenke built that big stadium , Sofi , up there in Los Angeles , which , you know , in a way kind of helped lure the Chargers out of San Diego. So they had a permanent home up there in Los Angeles.

S10: And also , I should say , when I say majority stake , I mean , it was reported , you know , 90% investor stake in this. So it's not it's not a small investment. Yeah.

S1: Yeah. And if you look at the renderings on that , I mean.

S11: It just looks. Huge.

S1: Huge. We're talking about in the sports arena area , some big high rises. But now that that height limit is gone , I guess they can build up.

S10: So e-bikes have become increasingly popular. I see a lot of , you know , teens and young , younger kids sort of riding them at very high speeds in my neighborhood , for example. And I know there's like , you know , there's been a lot of accidents and particularly in Encinitas. So I guess in this effort that they just announced , they're focusing on just kind of giving tickets and making people take classes for for safer riding. But I think we're you know , we're seeing a couple different efforts to try to limit accidents involving e-bikes because they can go quite a bit faster than , you know , regular bikes kind.

S1: Of minds me of the scooters , you know , remember downtown San Diego and there'd be videos of buses , you know , unfortunately hitting people , multiple people on those scooters. And but they've kind of gone away a little bit. But you've got to wonder what's going to happen when you kind of , you know , move to more further regulate something like this.

S10: Well , and with those regulations , I mean , you saw a lot of the scooter companies leave San Diego and say they were too , too strict. Right ? Yeah.

S1: And now I tried to ride one the other day in downtown and it's a huge block over downtown. It's like , where where can you even ride it ? It's just like a little , little piece of downtown.

S10: On Monday is the Juneteenth holiday. Been celebrated for for many years in the African-American community. In recent years , you know , 2021 , it became a federal holiday. It recently became a California state holiday. But all through the weekend , there's a lot of really great events and cool cultural happenings across the county , Saturday , Sunday and on the actual Juneteenth holiday on Monday. Just a couple just quick examples. One of the largest is the Cooper Family Foundation's Juneteenth celebration. That's Saturday and Memorial Park. But also , I mean , all sorts of organizations are doing things. The Old Globe is doing kind of a mix of performances and music. That's on Saturday as well. There's an outdoor music venue called The Courtyard downtown San Diego. They're doing a couple different performances marking Juneteenth this weekend as well. So it's just a whole lot to explore. Like I said , Saturday , Sunday and Monday around the county.

S1: Andrew Bracken , Kpbs roundtable producer , thanks for being here. Thank you , Matt. That's going to do it for roundtable this week. We'd love to hear your thoughts on today's show. You can leave us a voicemail at (619) 452-0228. If you don't like that , you can also email us roundtable at Keep in mind there is a roundtable podcast. You can find our show wherever you get your podcast. Roundtable airs at Kpbs FM on noon Fridays and again on Sunday at 6 a.m.. The show is produced by Andrew Bracken , and Luca Vega is our technical director. I'm your host , Matt Hoffman. Thanks so much for being here with us. Have a great weekend.

A street in downtown San Diego with homeless tents on both sides is shown in this undated photo.
Carlos Castillo
A street in downtown San Diego with homeless tents on both sides is shown in this undated photo.

The San Diego City Council passed the Unsafe Camping Ordinance after a marathon session on Tuesday. The public camping ban is the latest effort that city of San Diego leaders have taken on the rise in homelessness in the city.

The vote came days after the release of the 2023 WeAllCount Point-in-Time Count data, which found that the unsheltered population increased in the city of San Diego by at least 19%.


Lisa Halverstadt, senior investigative reporter, Voice of San Diego

Gary Warth, reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune