Is city moving homeless away for All-Star Game?

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The City of San Diego is getting ready to host thousands of visitors and fans for Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game.

The neighborhood around Petco Park will also be on display.

City leaders openly acknowledged that there’s a problem with homelessness, especially downtown.

What they won’t say is whether the city is trying to push those people out during the All-Star Game.

Downtown, the number of un-sheltered homeless people increased by almost 21 percent, for a total of 1,006.

Specifically, the concentration of homeless people around Petco Park and Market Street saw an increase from 314 to 400.

When thousands of baseball fans descend on San Diego for the All-Star Game, they’ll be soaking in the sights of the beaches and boardwalks and the nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter, but one San Diegan said one thing the city doesn’t want them to see is people like her.

The people who live on the streets said that in the last few months, the city has taken a much harder stand on trying to move them out.

Legal notices are posted by the city’s Environmental Services Department, which gives at least 72 hours before police and code enforcement officers are permitted to take away trash and debris and remove dirty or unsanitary personal property.

Jerome White said he and his wife have been forced to pack up and move more often now, and he’s certain it’s because of the All-Star Game.

Michael McConnell is a small business owner and an advocate for the homeless. He believes the city is using a variety of tactics to drive the homeless away from the ballpark.

He said the most recent installation has been rock landscaping under a nearby underpass on Imperial Avenue, which effectively keeps anyone from camping beneath the bridge.

It’s not unusual for cities to want to slap on some new paint, fix the streets and clean up before tourism season, so what’s the harm?

McConnell said it’s a lot more complicated than that. The tents and shopping carts are just the most conspicuous signs of a problem that pleads for a long-term solution.

KUSI’s Sasha Foo contacted the Mayor’s Office and the Environmental Services Department to ask if the city is ramping up efforts to remove the homeless from the Petco Park area.

The sent the following response:

"The city routinely posts clean-up notices downtown as a part of its regular weekly abatement schedule."

There was no mention of any special effort because of the upcoming game.

Categories: Local San Diego News