Tearing down the house
I enjoyed reading Elizabeth Salaam’s article in City Lights, “Homeless invade, pollute, ignite Fox Canyon” (City Lights, December 5) and do not dispute it whatsoever. It is the job of an editor, not a reporter, to help make sense out of news and provide the surrounding details and possible solutions. San Diego for 30 years and especially the last 20 years followed a path that led directly to its present homeless problem, with 35,000 people without housing and fake counts making their numbers as low as 9,000.
The Federal Courts heard three years of testimony from detectives they hired to find the cause of San Diego’s homeless problem, and determined the City and County to be 100% at-fault for same, all caused by Redevelopment tearing down 22,000 low-income housing rentals. Not laziness, not mental illness, not alcoholism, and not mental illness. Politics. Most San Diego lawyers can explain all this to you, but I am not an attorney. As a result of San Diego intentionally failing to allow low-income housing, plus tearing down that which existed, the Federal Courts ordered that anyone homeless in San Diego can camp out on any City-owned land, forever, or until San Diego builds a lot more housing for them to rent, which it has not. Our homeless need only jobs that pay enough to rent housing, plus housing that the City never permitted to be constructed, throwing low-cost housing providers out of town regularly.
All of this is a “Right to Life” issue, plus the City of San Diego is responsible for providing housing for its poor, required by the State Constitution. The courts also threw out local laws such as “Must Move Upon Request”, “illegal lodging”, “cannot return within 48 hours”, and all other laws and rules which would interfere with the San Diego homeless and their right to live permanently on City property. Technically, interference could be construed as “Contempt of Court”, and there have been several modifications to the Federal Court Order over the years. To comply with lifting the Court Order, San Diego only needs to allow housing developers to create housing that current homeless can afford, nothing else. Our downtown homeless problem is one of transportation, because it is the only place in San Diego with all services within walking distance.
Solutions are to use the Amikas.Org “Tiny Houses” program that has been such a success in other cities, or the use of San Diego’s $78 million a year HUD money to actually build housing, or even to hire the homeless so they can pay for housing. As for fires, the past ten-or-so years, nearly every fire in a homeless camp was proven to be arson, caused by a non-homeless person trying to burn the homeless out. The good news is now that the Democrats will be running City Hall, there is a slight chance that something real will be done on the homeless situation, instead of just spending tax money on repeatedly-failed programs that make a lot of money for the friends and families of our politicians. For 20 years, at least 1,000 low-income housing units were torn down in San Diego, without any units built to replace them. That resulted in homeless everywhere, including Fox Canyon.