SAN DIEGO — Local basketball legend Bill Walton is frustrated with the homeless situation in his neighborhood. He says he's been threatened, chased, and assaulted and he's not holding back on who he blames for the problem - blasting Mayor Todd Gloria in a series of emails.
Walton specifically mentioned the area along Park Boulevard near Upas Street, noting that it's near the San Diego Zoo, Roosevelt Middle School, and the War Memorial Building.
He sent his first email to Mayor Gloria on August 8th saying in part, “I'm begging and pleading for your help. This permanent homeless encampment in our neighborhood is a travesty, with endless trash, urine, and feces, that goes unabated, forever. This makes our public Balboa Park unusable. It is not healthy, safe, or desirable to do so.”
Mayor Gloria personally responded to Walton about this situation with a phone call and followed it up with an email that ended with the line, “I'll continue to work with city and staff to address the illegal activity in the park. I appreciate your patience and your love for our city.”
City crews followed up with police to clear out the area, but several homeless people were back in the park within hours.
That prompted another email from Walton on August 15th, “Second request: I thought you were cool. I thought you cared. Please, things are worse today than they were last week.”
On August 24th Walton wrote, “You speak of the rights of the homeless, what about our rights we follow the rules of a functioning society, why are others allowed to disregard those rules.”
Walton's last email was sent on September 2nd, “You have failed, us and yourself. You have failed to deliver a safe, clean, healthy, and secure environment for us to live, work, and play in our own neighborhoods.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor sent CBS 8 an email response saying in part, “…of all the elected officials and agencies in this region, no one is taking more action to address street homelessness than Mayor Gloria and the City of San Diego.” It went on to say, “If Bill Walton wants to cast blame for inaction, he is targeting the wrong person.”
CBS 8 reached out to Walton, but he is out of town. He said he plans to address this topic publicly when he returns.
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