“There is a loophole that would allow [a winter shelter for the homeless] in Balboa Park,” wrote Stephen Hill, policy advisor for councilmember Todd Gloria and consultant for the Land Use and Housing Committee in an email to community members.
The two locations under consideration, according to the docketed agenda for the October 22, Friday morning meeting, are the Municipal Gym and the parking lot at Inspiration Point.
Before council president Ben Hueso's office issued the agenda, only Inspiration Point was mentioned as a potential site. The San Diego Housing Commission added the Municipal Gym to the list because it was the site of a former shelter in 1993 and was mentioned during last week's council meeting.
Regardless of the number of possible sites, Balboa Park has been brought up before as a potential location for a winter shelter and each time the proposals have been rejected.
In September 2009, the city attorney's office addressed the question of whether the city council could approve the “use of a portion of [Balboa Park] as a temporary homeless shelter.”
The short answer from the city attorney's office was no. “Charter section 55 provides that a dedicated park may only be used for park and recreation purposes,” read Jan Goldsmith's response.
In his opinion, Goldsmith deduced that the only way for parkland to be used for other purposes was if two-thirds of the city's electorate voted to approve using the park for anything else.
But according to Hill's email, a loophole was discovered that might bypass that two-thirds electorate approval. The loophole is to declare that a homeless shelter crisis exists in the city. Approving the ordinance requires a two-thirds council vote.
“The loophole would allow it if the council declared an emergency,” wrote Hill in his email.
City council members will hear the item on Friday, October 22, at 10:00 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall.