By Miriam Raftery
April 27, 2016 (San Diego) — Mayor Kevin Faulconer is being rocked by criticism after a homeless advocacy group posted photos on Facebook of sharp, jagged rocks installed by the city of San Diego beneath an overpass where homeless people had been sleeping and taking shelter during storms. San Diego has no year-round homeless shelter and has also been conducting sweeps to confiscate belongings of homeless individuals.
“Let your voices be heard and contact the Mayor to let him know that the current criminalization and anti-homeless policies that are being deployed are the wrong way,” Homelessness News San Diego wrote, also posting the Mayor’s phone number (619-236-6330) and e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org )
Bill Harris, the city’s supervising public information officer, offered this explanation, “"The new landscaping along Imperial Avenue is meant to address safety concerns by neighborhood residents in Sherman Heights," City Beat reports.
Kevin Inman posted that he lives a block from the site. “We have had the police and paramedics out numerous times because of the camps. There are no easy solutions –as a community we need to invest tens of millions of dollars to offer support services, but where is the political will? Instead there is talk of spending $1 billion on a football stadium right in this exact spot.”
Many voiced outrage at the action.
Lori Saldaña, who is running for mayor against Faulconer, has blasted Faulconer for taking punitive action against the homeless instead of offering solutions to homelessness. She posted a video online showing a homeless encampment under the bridge on Imperial Ave. under I-5 taken during a storm shortly before the rocks were installed.
Jeeni Criscenzo of Amikas, an advocate for the homeless, delivered a shopping cart filled with faux-rocks to the Mayor’s office in protest of the decision. “Tell the mayor we want real shelter and housing solutions, not sweeps and rockbeds,” she posted on Facebook. Criscenzo has launched a petition that’s received some 9,000 signatures asking the Mayor to allow construction of small houses on vacant lots to provide a clean, safe place for homeless people to live. A petition, but thus far Faulconer has not responded.
“There is a special place in hell for politicians who do stuff like this,” Kathleen Connell wrote.
Cicely Gilman stated, “So mean! Build affordable housing instead!”
Ryan Burns asked, “So why have the law that says they [homeless] have the right to sleep on sidewalks from 10p.m. to 7 a.m.?”
Patrick Moore observed, “Maybe if we had adequate public shelters this wouldn’t be necessary?!”
Michael McConnell, whose post for Homelessness News San Diego alerted the public to the issue, calls the rocks “dangerous” and says the city has created a “garbage trap” while failing to offer any meaningful solutions to the homeless situation in San Diego, where housing prices have soared even as the homeless population has climbed to the fourth highest in the nation, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported.