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Downtown San Diego residents say homeless problem keeps getting worse

"There has never been anything that’s affected me so drastically as living down here in the midst of this," said Lynne Bolton.

SAN DIEGO — There's an estimated 1,300 homeless people in downtown San Diego, which is nearly double compared to last year.

People who live downtown tell CBS 8 they’re frustrated.

"It's just a big giant mess," said Lynn Bolton.

CBS 8 first spoke with Bolton six weeks ago. Since then, she says the problem has gotten worse.

“The only noticeable change is that it's gotten a little more severe. The tents have now expanded to the curb,” said Bolton.

Bolton and her husband moved to East Village seven years ago from Point Loma, hoping to retire here.

Now, they're considering leaving.

“Our quality of life has been shot,” said Bolton.

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

She's also sent letters to city leaders and has filed complaints on the ‘Get It Done’ app, saying trash and lawlessness have become the norm.

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

The city put in portable restrooms in the area, as well as sinks, and is paying a guard to watch over them.

For Bolton, that's not fixing the problem, it's enhancing it.

"It just seems like it's a whole lawless third world country," said Bolton.

When CBS 8 reached out to the mayor's office about Bolton’s concerns last month, a spokesperson said the portable restrooms were added due to an outbreak of shigellosis, adding the mayor has expanded shelter capacity 35% in the past year and has increased homeless outreach.

On Tuesday, the Mayor’s spokesperson sent CBS 8 an updated statement, saying:

"Homelessness is an enormous problem up and down California and across the country. It’s not exclusive to San Diego, but nonetheless it remains the Mayor’s top priority. As such, he was in Sacramento yesterday urging state leaders to commit $1 billion each year for the next three years to meaningfully address the issue, in addition to advocating for expanded access to behavioral health services.

The Mayor shares the frustration of residents in Downtown and throughout the city and is working every day to address homelessness – expanding street outreach, creating more diverse shelter options, ensuring there are enough bathrooms to protect public health and building affordable housing with wraparound supportive services.

The City enforces all laws, including those aimed at making sure sidewalks are clear and safe for everyone, such as encroachment and illegal lodging. The City also conducts regular street cleanups so unsafe encampments don’t take hold and grow.

The Mayor has also taken on a major role in a statewide response to the mental illness issues that contribute to the homelessness crisis – by partnering with the Governor on his CARE Court proposal and with state Legislators on reforms to the conservatorship system. The Mayor believes we must make it easier to get people struggling with mental illness the help they need. Behavioral health is a County responsibility, and so the Mayor also works closely with County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher to integrate treatment into the City’s responses to homelessness, including targeted sheltering and outreach services aimed at people with high mental health needs."

Bolton knows there's no easy solution. Still, she wants to see some progress, starting with helping those who are mentally ill.

“Start sorting things out and find out where these people can go,” said Bolton.

WATCH RELATED: California mayors call for extension of funds to combat homelessness (April 2022)