SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - The City of San Diego is taking a new and controversial approach to preventing homeless people from sleeping under a freeway underpass by placing rocks along a stretch of Imperial Avenue that links Sherman Heights to downtown.

On Tuesday, the homeless advocacy group Amikas denounced the rocks.

"This is what you do to keep away pigeons, rodents or squirrels. This is not what you need for human beings. Human beings need shelter," said Anne Marie.

The advocacy group said San Diego needs micro-communities which are made out of tiny shelters. The group said they have the funding but need a plot of land to show their idea would work. It's an idea that is already a reality in cities like Portland and Madison.

The city said the rocks were put in to address safety issues and highlighted the programs it supports that offer shelter and a path off the street on Imperial Avenue, under Interstate-5.

Silvia Leon lives nearby in Sherman Heights with her husband and three kids. She said walking in the area was safety and health hazard.

"They use your streets as a toilets, and we have witnessed a few times women and men pulling their pants down in front of my kids," said Leon.

Leon said that since the landscaping, things have been better, but adds more needs to be done to help the homeless.

The mayor's office said funding for homeless services has tripled this year and the number of individuals who are transitioning to housing under the year-round homeless facility that opened last year has doubled.