Special Report: San Diegan proposes homeless camp in the Otay Mesa area
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Year after year, city leaders said they are committed to finding more ways to help those who are homeless, but a business owner in San Diego has come up with an idea that’s generating a lot of attention.
It’s been described as an escalating crisis. While the number of people living on the street are without permanent shelter is actually decreasing in many cities, it’s on the rise in San Diego.
George Mullen has been an artist and a business owner in San Diego for decades and he said he’s disturbed by what he sees when he walks the streets.
Mullen and a longtime friend are making waves with an idea, to use land near Brown Field in Otay Mesa to establish a camp, which would be set aside for those who don’t have any permanent shelter.
Mullen said there’s plenty of land here. The city of San Diego owns 880 acres of land north and east of Brown Field.
The county has even more acres east of SR-25, public land that could be put to use as a temporary camp, which Mullen calls, "Camp Hope San Diego."
Mullen has written about the city’s response to homelessness in an op-ed published in the San Diego Union Tribune. He envisions putting up a tent city, similar to the temporary quarters that house homeless veterans during the weekend called, "Stand Down," a place where people who are used to sleeping on the street can find shelter that’s clean and safe, a place with food and showers and connections to social services like job training and help for substance abuse.
Mullen notes the property is only 13 miles away from downtown San Diego, not far from MTS bus and trolley lines.
Mullen said his idea isn’t to roundup those without shelter and keep them against their will, but he said the camp would serve as an alternative destination for men and women who get ticketed for loitering.
Not everyone is a fan of this idea. Councilmember David Alvarez said, "I don’t think this is a realistic proposal."
Councilmember Alvarez also said that, "currently, the city owns property, such as the old downtown library, next to existing service providers, that could be used for additional homeless services."
But Mullen said he is tired of hearing about promises and pledges when, he says, there are ideas out there that can really help those in need.
One big question however, is how will this camp be funded?
Mullen said he’s about to write another op-ed essay about that, but he’s hinting that it will probably involved some sort of special measure.
Even if all the specifics in his plan aren’t there, Mullen said we have to take action now.