Last four weeks of crime in area around Mission Bay
More corners of the city will soon be off limits overnight to those without a place to sleep.
An ordinance passed by the San Diego City Council on April 6 will make it illegal to be on the grounds of Fanuel Street Park and Pacific Beach Library Park from 10:00 p.m. to 5:00 a.m. or at Mission Bay Athletic Area from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
San Diego now has 12 parks and one pedestrian bridge on Spruce Street with nighttime curfews, and the homeless, who have the right to sleep in public spaces if shelters aren't available, are feeling the squeeze. In the past two years, the city has doubled the number of parks with curfews.
The effort in Pacific Beach began in July 2019 with a petition launched by a group of residents that soon had over 500 signatures. The proposal "targets three specific high-crime parks" rather than a blanket curfew for all area parks, said Brian White, board member of the Pacific Beach Town Council.
Their proposal has been heard by park advisory boards, commissions, and community groups, and received unanimous votes in support each time. The Fanuel Street Park curfew must still be approved by the California Coastal Commission.
Petitioners call Fanuel Park "felony park" for its "significant public safety concerns," from gangs to drug use. Tourists are turned off, they say, and residents are afraid to walk their dogs.
At Mission Bay Athletic Area on Grand Ave. (also known as Bob McEvoy Fields), parents say needles have been found in the T-ball fields, dug-outs, and bleachers, plus blood stains in the bathrooms and score booths. Storage lockers are broken into.
"A curfew will at least help curtail some of these," said Vanessa Lovett in a comment to the city.
According to a staff report, crime mapping statistics show a significant level of illegal activity in areas surrounding the three parks.
A San Diego Police Department crime summary for Fanuel Park from January to November 2019 found alcohol and drugs the most common issue, with 24 incidents.
Despite attempts by locals to reduce the number of liquor licenses in Pacific Beach, there were 232 active licenses as of last July.
Vehicle theft has gone up.
In 2020, as Covid-19 kept people home, San Diego's overall crime rate dropped 8 percent, mainly from fewer thefts and burglaries. But vehicle thefts soared, and Pacific Beach is a hotspot. Police attributed the changes to the pandemic. People weren't driving as much, and cars were easy targets.
Current crime mapping statistics for the past month show the pandemic trend drags on. The main crime around Fanuel Park is still auto theft.
A curfew will "provide a means for the San Diego Police Department to remove patrons from these park areas in the late hours to minimize illegal use," the city says.
Crimes against the homeless in Pacific Beach have spiked in the past few years, according to homeless advocates; at least thirty victims have been tallied so far; crimes include pepper spray on a sleeping man, BB pellets, and objects thrown from cars.