SAN DIEGO — San Diego Police and Environmental Services were out along Sports Arena Boulevard Monday morning offering shelter beds and wraparound services to people experiencing homelessness.
According to the City of San Diego, they suspended enforcement in December when shelters were not taking in new people due to the omicron spike at the time.
But as of last week, shelters began accepting new clients, and so the Neighborhood Policing Division has resumed their progressive enforcement.
“A lot of businesses in the area are being affected by the encampment and I think a lot of the people on the street need help and I really hope that they’re able to use the resources that are being offered,” said Karen Andersen-Thatcher, owner of Walter Andersen Nursery. “It’s a very helpless feeling. It’s very upsetting to drive through it and see it everyday.”
72-hour notice signs were posted by the City of San Diego’s Environmental Services Department warning that the area is to be cleaned up this week.
On Monday, a total of 17 people experiencing homelessness were contacted:
Four accepted shelter beds and were driven to a shelter
One person was arrested for an outstanding warrant for misdemeanor theft
Eight people were given a verbal warning for illegal lodging and encroachment
Three people were given an infraction citation
1 person was given a misdemeanor citation
“It’s a failed approach,” said homeless advocate Michael McConnell. “All it does is move people to another sidewalk. They were really aggressive today and I’m already seeing people in the surrounding sidewalks with all their belongings and so how did that solve anything, moving people from one sidewalk to the other?”
This is all part of the City’s progressive enforcement model and Karen Andersen is just happy something is finally being done to address the issue.
“I hope that the street gets cleaned up,” said Andersen. “I hope that the people get the help that they need. And I hope that the City stays on it. I hope this isn’t a one-time thing and that next month, they’re all back again.”
CBS 8 received the following statement from the Mayor’s office:
“One of the key components to the City’s Progressive Enforcement Model is the offering of shelter and services to individuals experiencing homelessness at every interaction before any enforcement action is taken. Intakes are occurring on a scaled approached with a limited number allowed per day to ensure the continued health of both clients and staff. Once the number of intakes has been achieved for the day, SDPD will cease enforcement actions.
There has been a significant focused outreach effort over the past month to engage individuals and offer services and shelter in the Sports Arena area. The City continues to emphasize a compassionate approach; however, it will balance that with the need to address the health and safety issues that persist in encampments.”
WATCH RELATED: City of San Diego to begin cracking down on homeless encampments (Feb. 2022).