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South Bay as dumping ground

Busted homeless headed for east end of Palm Ave.

Super 8 in Imperial beach. "Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"
Super 8 in Imperial beach. "Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"

Angry citizens showed their resistance to the city's plan to house misdemeanor drug offenders in the old Super 8 Motel on Palm Avenue in Nestor.

Vicki Granowitz (standing): "When the Rescue Mission moved to Bankers Hill, people were concerned about it, but they are fine with it now."

"We're the dumping ground. We have the prisons and the landfills," said Vivian Moreno. "When will we hear about a project (like this) in Rancho Bernardo? When will we hear about it in La Jolla?"

The plan that residents criticized is a result of the popular Prop 47 vote in 2014, when voters decided that nonviolent criminals including drug offenders, should not end up in prison. This year, the money saved on prison costs came back to cities and counties. Former city attorney Jan Goldsmith launched a plan to set up the transitional housing called the San Diego Misdemeanant At Risk Track before he left office.

Senior Deputy City Attorney Lara Easton began looking at properties to set up transitional living for a starter group of 10 currently homeless people — something that community members say they just heard about. The neighbors aren't the only opponents, The California Coastal Commission weighed in with concerns because the Super 8 motel is in the coastal zone and is one of the last affordable places for coast visitors to stay, according to commission documents.

The motel is on the north side of a gritty stretch of Palm Ave. between the Imperial Sands mobile home park and the Bayside Palms mobile home park. Just west is a smog shop and behind the building, to the north, is the eastern corner of the San Diego Bay bottom. The Imperial Beach border is four blocks west. The SMART program is billed as "an innovative pilot program that provides homeless low-level misdemeanor offenders with housing, case management, job training and other supportive services required to end the cycle of homelessness." In April, Easton explained the program at a North Park forum on homelessness.

But residents near the first site in Nestor first heard about the project last week from city councilman David Alvarez. He hasn't taken a position on the project yet, but two staff members attended the contentious meeting, including the previously mentioned speaker, Vivian Moreno. The idea is to take chronically homeless people who've committed misdemeanors and get them indoors. Then they will be offered drug treatment, education or job training and will be able to stay for up to two years, and their stay will be considered successful if they move to permanent housing. The residents are not required to be sober and clean at intake, Easton said.

Stephen Maduli-Williams from the city's land acquisition office and Easton said they began looking for an affordable location that didn't need a complete overhaul, and ended up on Palm Avenue looking at the rundown motel. They would like the city to buy the property but wanted to talk to the residents first. The city council must approve the purchase, according to planning group members. So far, the program offered help to 23 homeless people and ended up with 10 offenders. Their longest-enrolled client is at 180 days, Easton said. But people can also just walk out of the unsecured facility, everyone agreed. If they don't come back, a warrant for their arrest will be issued and they'll go to jail.

Vicki Granowitz, a North Park resident who is involved in the SMART project, said that the project is required to reach out to the community. "When the Rescue Mission moved to Bankers Hill, a pretty wealthy neighborhood, people were very concerned about it, but they are fine with it now," Granowitz said.

Residents were unimpressed — including Dr. Matthew Dickson, whose office is a block west of the Super 8. "This is an undocumented, unresearched program you're putting in the community," Dickson said. "I found a crack pipe on the street in front of my building yesterday. People were smoking crack there this morning. I have a smoke shop, a tattoo parlor and a liquor store on my block. Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"

Alberto Estrada said it's not the first time the community has been eyed for programs no one else wants. "This is nothing new for our community," he said. "We need cleaner streets, better schools, more parks; that's what we need. There is nothing in here for our community." Bobby Hicks, a lifelong South Bay resident, said that the area is just beginning to become desirable.

"The South Bay has worked really hard to climb up and out. We finally have businesses that survive, we're finally getting quality businesses that can survive here," he said. "You're trying to bring us back to where we don't want to be."

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Super 8 in Imperial beach. "Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"
Super 8 in Imperial beach. "Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"

Angry citizens showed their resistance to the city's plan to house misdemeanor drug offenders in the old Super 8 Motel on Palm Avenue in Nestor.

Vicki Granowitz (standing): "When the Rescue Mission moved to Bankers Hill, people were concerned about it, but they are fine with it now."

"We're the dumping ground. We have the prisons and the landfills," said Vivian Moreno. "When will we hear about a project (like this) in Rancho Bernardo? When will we hear about it in La Jolla?"

The plan that residents criticized is a result of the popular Prop 47 vote in 2014, when voters decided that nonviolent criminals including drug offenders, should not end up in prison. This year, the money saved on prison costs came back to cities and counties. Former city attorney Jan Goldsmith launched a plan to set up the transitional housing called the San Diego Misdemeanant At Risk Track before he left office.

Senior Deputy City Attorney Lara Easton began looking at properties to set up transitional living for a starter group of 10 currently homeless people — something that community members say they just heard about. The neighbors aren't the only opponents, The California Coastal Commission weighed in with concerns because the Super 8 motel is in the coastal zone and is one of the last affordable places for coast visitors to stay, according to commission documents.

The motel is on the north side of a gritty stretch of Palm Ave. between the Imperial Sands mobile home park and the Bayside Palms mobile home park. Just west is a smog shop and behind the building, to the north, is the eastern corner of the San Diego Bay bottom. The Imperial Beach border is four blocks west. The SMART program is billed as "an innovative pilot program that provides homeless low-level misdemeanor offenders with housing, case management, job training and other supportive services required to end the cycle of homelessness." In April, Easton explained the program at a North Park forum on homelessness.

But residents near the first site in Nestor first heard about the project last week from city councilman David Alvarez. He hasn't taken a position on the project yet, but two staff members attended the contentious meeting, including the previously mentioned speaker, Vivian Moreno. The idea is to take chronically homeless people who've committed misdemeanors and get them indoors. Then they will be offered drug treatment, education or job training and will be able to stay for up to two years, and their stay will be considered successful if they move to permanent housing. The residents are not required to be sober and clean at intake, Easton said.

Stephen Maduli-Williams from the city's land acquisition office and Easton said they began looking for an affordable location that didn't need a complete overhaul, and ended up on Palm Avenue looking at the rundown motel. They would like the city to buy the property but wanted to talk to the residents first. The city council must approve the purchase, according to planning group members. So far, the program offered help to 23 homeless people and ended up with 10 offenders. Their longest-enrolled client is at 180 days, Easton said. But people can also just walk out of the unsecured facility, everyone agreed. If they don't come back, a warrant for their arrest will be issued and they'll go to jail.

Vicki Granowitz, a North Park resident who is involved in the SMART project, said that the project is required to reach out to the community. "When the Rescue Mission moved to Bankers Hill, a pretty wealthy neighborhood, people were very concerned about it, but they are fine with it now," Granowitz said.

Residents were unimpressed — including Dr. Matthew Dickson, whose office is a block west of the Super 8. "This is an undocumented, unresearched program you're putting in the community," Dickson said. "I found a crack pipe on the street in front of my building yesterday. People were smoking crack there this morning. I have a smoke shop, a tattoo parlor and a liquor store on my block. Do you really think this is a good place for an addict to recover?"

Alberto Estrada said it's not the first time the community has been eyed for programs no one else wants. "This is nothing new for our community," he said. "We need cleaner streets, better schools, more parks; that's what we need. There is nothing in here for our community." Bobby Hicks, a lifelong South Bay resident, said that the area is just beginning to become desirable.

"The South Bay has worked really hard to climb up and out. We finally have businesses that survive, we're finally getting quality businesses that can survive here," he said. "You're trying to bring us back to where we don't want to be."

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Comments
3

As a long term resident of the South Bay I can witness to the "dumping ground" mentality at City Hall. Councilman Alvarez does NOTHING to stop this. The only thing he has done was to make Palm Avenue more congested with his "center medians and beautification."

As the story mentioned above, Vivian Moreno, actually works on Alvarez's staff. She's also a do nothing of the highest caliber. She's the one that made Brown Field louder with the lack of oversight from Navy jets and helicopters. The increase in graffiti, crime, and poor community standards are because they (Alvarez and Moreno) focus on Logan and Sherman Height, not Otay Mesa or San Ysidro. Shame on them for not revealing herself to The Reader and stating her role or lack of action in South Bay. Good try for clumsy amateurs.

June 17, 2017

Vivian did tell me she works for CCman Alvarez - in case the ID she wore in plain sight wasn't enough. But she spoke as a resident.I understood her position to be entirely ethical. (I hope one day someone - anyone - tells me they are a do-nothing. Almost all people tell me they're doing a lot, and doing it well.)

June 18, 2017

LMAO....you're right, you'll never find this in La Jolla.

June 21, 2017

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