Apr 8, 2024 - News

Mayor Gloria pivots from shelter to safe parking lot in Point Loma

An empty dirt lot at a construction site.

The H Barracks site for the proposed safe parking lot. Photo: Andy Keatts/Axios

Mayor Todd Gloria last week pivoted away from building a large, controversial shelter in Point Loma to pursuing a safe parking lot there instead.

Why it matters: The shift — which was announced along with plans for a 1,000-bed shelter — won't end a standoff with residents who organized against the Point Loma proposal, but it could provide parking for 200 vehicles in which people are living.

  • The city currently operates four lots where people living in cars or RVs can park overnight, with access to restrooms, services and treatment.

What they're saying: "I consider it a battle that has been won, but the war isn't close to over," said Derek Falconer with Point Loma Cares, a nonprofit group formed to oppose the shelter proposal.

  • Gloria said the city will still reserve the option of building a shelter structure at the site, though it will shift its focus to turning it into a safe parking lot.

State of play: That site is called H Barracks — 5 city-owned acres between the airport and Liberty Station.

  • Gloria said the safe parking lot there would serve the large population of people living in oversized vehicles in the Peninsula area.

Fine print: In February, San Diego reached a $3.2 million settlement in a long-running lawsuit over city rules against parking oversized vehicles and living in vehicles.

  • That settlement prohibits the city from enforcing those laws if it cannot provide "reasonably available nighttime parking."

The intrigue: Falconer said nothing has materially changed, since the city could still consider building a shelter structure at H Barracks.

  • He said his group will scrutinize the H Barracks plans to "find places where we can make the process more painful and more expensive for the city."
  • The group will sue to block the project unless the city forms a working group to discuss alternatives, Falconer said.

What's next: Gloria's pivot away from building a 700-bed shelter at H Barracks depends on his plan to instead open a 1,000-bed shelter in Middletown, but the City Council still needs to approve that proposal.

  • That approval process begins with an April 18 committee hearing. It's unclear how the city's plans could again shift if the City Council doesn't sign off on the Middletown shelter.
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