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Downtown San Diego residents say homeless problem is 'out of control'

"I'm very frustrated. I'm embarrassed," said Lynne Bolton.

SAN DIEGO — People living in Downtown San Diego say the homeless problem is out of control, and the city isn't doing anything about it.

"I'm very frustrated. I'm embarrassed. There's people laying in front of your step, there's people defecating on the street, vomiting," said Lynne Bolton.

Bolton and her husband moved to East Village seven years ago from Point Loma. At the time, they were excited, saying the area had potential.

Now, she says it's changed dramatically, and not for the better. What was once a homeless issue is now a problem with no end in sight

"Now, it's absolutely out of control. Since COVID, I understand they're not doing quite as much but there's absolutely no oversight," said Bolton.

Bolton has been documenting the issue by posting videos and pictures to both an Instagram and Facebook page she named ‘America's Finest City.’

She's also written letters to city leaders and has filed complaints on the ‘Get It Done’ app.

Specifically, she's concerned with the streets surrounding the Post Office on E between 8th and 9th and the former library across the street, all of which have tents up and down them.

Not only that, she says the city put in porta-potties and sinks and is paying a guard to watch over them. In other words, they're not fixing the problem, they're enhancing it.

“I've gotten canned responses from the mayor's office. His media people say 'oh we're doing this and that.' I'm not seeing anything. I'm seeing the problem get worse," said Bolton.

And it's not just downtown. CBS 8 visited Magnolia Avenue in El Cajon where a homeless encampment has grown on the unincorporated part of the street.

Supervisor Joel Anderson who represents the area says they're not moving them because there's nowhere for them to go.

"I'm choosing to take a compassionate approach," said Anderson.

WATCH RELATED: Homeless encampment grows along Magnolia Avenue 


Regarding the Downtown issue, District 3 Councilmember Stephen Whitburn told CBS 8:

"Residents have a right to be frustrated. The current situation is completely unacceptable, and it has only gotten worse due to the pandemic. The city working together with the county, the state, and other stakeholders are doing more than ever before to turn this situation around. We have a lot of work to do as we recover from the pandemic but I am confident we will see progress."


Meanwhile, the Mayor's Deputy Chief of Staff, Nick Serrano, said:

“Last fall, the City increased the number of portable restrooms Downtown due to an outbreak of shigellosis among residents experiencing homelessness. The determination for those locations was based on reports of unsheltered people in those areas made through the City’s Get-it-Done app.

“The Mayor has been clear: The sidewalk is not a home and it is not compassionate to leave people on the street. This is why he has expanded shelter capacity in the past year by 35 percent and increased homeless outreach to connect unsheltered people to shelter, services and, ultimately, housing. We encourage our unsheltered population to avail themselves of the shelter and services the City and our outreach teams are offering and providing.”

In response, Bolton saif, "There is a human rights issue here.  This is not just an unhoused or unsheltered issue. You can't throw people who are mentally ill into shelters and expect them to thrive they need medications and they need oversight."

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