‘Quality of life and safety’ concerns for Pacific Beach residents
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 08/13/16 - 06:11 AM | 8066 views | 1 1 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A homeless camp off Old SeaWorld Drive. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
A homeless camp off Old SeaWorld Drive. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
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There is growing concern among community leaders and residents alike as the rising number of homeless – and issues associated with them – continues to grow in coastal communities like Pacific and Mission beaches.

Some people, in fact, are downright scared, like Montana Lumm of PB Southwest.

“I've noticed the homeless population is getting ridiculous, especially in the beach communities,” said Lumm recently on NextDoor.com.

“It's scary dealing with intoxicated people, worrying about stepping on used needles on the beach, walking past their camps only to be asked for money (yelled at if you refuse) or fearing for (your) personal safety on the sidewalks and alleys, along with our taxes going to cleaning up after them instead of making the community more family friendly,” said Lumm.

“I love my neighborhood. But I'm tired of worrying about them (homeless) all the time and I wouldn't want to start a family here — unless the homeless problem is dealt with.”

Lumm offered a possible plan of action.

“If I create a petition for stricter policies (toward homeless), would anyone share and sign it?” she asked.

Four months ago, Mike Spangler, who organizes the annual North PB Sip 'N Stroll summer block party, started a Facebook site, facebook.com/cleanuppb/, to draw attention to homelessness in PB.

In creating the new site, Spangler noted PB residents “are sick and tired of the city ignoring our homeless, transients, lack of police and overall trash issues. We encourage pictures and specific accounts of what is happening ...

“In general, the public is fed up with it,” Spangler said recently, noting there's a growing perception that business-as-usual in turning a blind eye toward homelessness and hoping the problems will resolve themselves just won't work.

Spangler said the Pacific Beach homeless Facebook site has gotten positive results.

“The police and city officials are using it as a tool,” he said.

Drawing a distinction among subgroups within the homeless population, Spangler pointed out there are “thieves, drug addicts and transients” who are causing most of the problems. Those, he said, should be distinguished from the homeless who are “mentally ill, military veterans or people down on their luck.

“There are some homeless who are stealing bikes and breaking into cars at night,” Spangler said, adding, “We need more police now. We need to let (homeless) know they can't get away with these (crimes).”

“Many constituents have contacted me regarding problems associated with 'aggressive transients' in our beach communities,” said District 2 Councilwoman Lorie Zapf. “I am not talking about all homeless on our streets – just a particular group of individuals who are very aggressive and generally exhibiting lawless behavior. Unfortunately, this lawless behavior has caused real problems in our communities.”

Noting she recently went on two San Diego Police Department ride-alongs in Northern Division (Pacific and Mission beaches) and Western Division (Midway, Ocean Beach and Point Loma), Zapf said she “learned a great deal and have an even deeper appreciation for our police officers and the work they do. 

“The problems that were encountered were numerous, often including public intoxication, drug use, theft and violence.”

Zapf held two meetings recently with community and business leaders to discuss homeless problems and possible solutions.

“The SDPD Homeless Outreach Team is working hard to provide services to the homeless,” Zapf said. “Unfortunately, only one in 10 (homeless) will accept help to get off the streets.” 

Spangler commented that, at present, “there's nowhere for them (homeless) to go. It's a big problem.”

Pointing out there aren't any easy solutions to problematic homelessness, Spangler said many residents would be “happy to pay our tax dollars to get them off the street.”

Noting homeless are traditionally drawn to beach areas because of the beautiful scenery and nice weather, Spangler said he's noticed issues surrounding their presence has been gradually ratcheting up for several years.

With summer tourism at its peak, Spangler added, “This is our busy season. Don't condone panhandling. Don't feed these people who are begging with cell phones in their pockets. Don't give them money. Don't enable them.”

Spangler noted the homeless demographic is changing along the beachfront.

“There is a new generation of homeless, the transients,” he said. “It's a bigger issue now than ever. We're (PB's) sick of it. Something has to change, because it's affecting everyone's quality of life and safety.”
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pblife
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August 13, 2016
Mr Spangler, you are a coward and part of the homeless problem. Why is it, that you have blocked everyone from your FB page that has expressed opinions in your comments that are contrary to your own? You are condescending towards humanity, and incite hatred towards people. You're right "something has to change". You need to move out of PB.
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