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More videos surface of destruction of bicycles during San Diego homeless encampment cleanups

Mayor's Office says it is looking into a proposal to impound bikes for 90-days and donate them if no one claims them
Credit: Michael McConnell
Stiil from Michael McConnell of city crews destroying bicycles during homeless encampment cleanup

SAN DIEGO — New videos continue to surface showing city crews crushing bicycles during cleanups of homeless encampments in downtown San Diego. It happened after Mayor Todd Gloria recently announced his plans to ramp up enforcement of large homeless encampments near schools and near businesses in East Village.

On April 14 homeless advocate Michael McConnell captured a video of city crews tossing two bicycles inside a rear-load city garbage truck before flattening them with the compactor.

Watch video of city crews destroying bicycles:

Since posting the video, McConnell and other advocates have filmed at least three other instances of crews destroying what appear to be semi-damaged bikes.

In an effort to help homeless people with broken bikes, the San Diego Bicycle Coalition held an event to repair broken bikes at Father Joe's Villages in East Village on June 17. The coalition says it had held the events in the past but were forced to stop during the pandemic.

"The Bike Coalition focuses on all types of riders, not just weekend racers and mountain bikers," said Education Program Manager, Kevin Baross. "Our focus is those who use bikes to get from point A to Point B and anything we can do to help people not only be safer but feel more comfortable on the road is a great use of our time."

Added Baross, "Many of the bikes we see are in disrepair and need minor adjustments. We have the ability to help with that. It's important for the Coalition to behave as though we're a member of this neighborhood, not just taking up space."

In recent weeks, Mayor Gloria has gone on the offensive, calling San Diego's homelessness crisis the most important issue the city faces. 

RELATED: Homeless crisis in San Diego | One-on-One with Mayor Todd Gloria

WATCH RELATED: Homeless crisis in San Diego } One on once with Mayor Todd Gloria

Gloria has celebrated the opening of non-congregate shelters while defending his decision to ramp up enforcement and clean up some of the massive encampments that block city streets and sidewalks.

But homeless advocates such as McConnell say they are hard-pressed to find any compassion while watching crews destroy people's property during the clean-ups. While bicycles are just a small proportion of the problem, they say it shows just how harsh the city's treatment of the homeless is.

"The city wants the streets cleared and they don't care how it happens or the impacts it has," McConnell told CBS 8. "The city has embarked on an aggressive strategy, throwing away working bicycles, wheelchairs, tents. City crews used to take time and put some thought into it before they did this, now that has changed. Now bikes, walkers and tents are getting destroyed indiscriminately."

But former State Assemblymember, and recent city council candidate, Lori Saldana says it is time for the city to act and change what she says is an unfair and immoral policy. 

"Mobility devices, regardless of whether they are bikes, wheelchairs, it’s theft and it’s theft of people with limited mobility who are being hunted down by the city," said Saldana.

"It’s summer tourism season and the Mayor and the city want downtown to look tourist-friendly. I think it looks like a war zone. These people are shell-shocked. They are being chased from one side of the street to the other," said Saldana.

Credit: Lori Saldana

Mayor Gloria's Office says that is far from the case.

RELATED: Mayor: San Diego will step up enforcement on homeless

WATCH RELATED: San Diego ramps up enforcement on homeless

A city spokesperson tells CBS 8 that the city is looking into a proposal to impound bikes that are in working condition and near-working condition before donating them to someone in need.

"The City has been exploring a policy proposal to impound for 90 days any bicycle that is in rideable or near-rideable condition," said a city spokesperson.

Credit: City of San Diego

Added the city spokesperson, "If a bicycle is not claimed, it could be donated to potential bicycle advocacy partners who can assist the City with repairs and redistribution to residents in need, including our unsheltered residents who rely on bicycles for transportation."

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