Mayor, planners working on Midway homeless issues
by DAVE SCHWAB
Published - 02/04/17 - 06:15 AM | 0 0 comments | 33 33 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Homelessness once again dominated discussion at Midway Community Planning Group in January.

The community advisory group also was updated on the latest developments with the city's ongoing update of the Midway Community Plan, the district's blueprint for development.

The Midway/Pacific Highway Corridor Community is situated between Old Town and Point Loma. The community is a hodgepodge with an urbanized commercial core containing numerous shopping centers and institutional facilities. The corridor is defined by large-scale buildings and unscreened commercial parking lots mixed in with low-lying industrial buildings. There are a few multifamily residential complexes in the western portion of the district adjacent to Point Loma.

Anthony George, from Mayor Kevin Faulconer's office, said the mayor in his state of the city address cited tourism, homelessness and housing affordability as three of his top issues to work on in 2017. He noted the “housing first” model for getting homeless off the streets and transitioning them into permanent housing will be a priority in 2017.

“The mayor has proposed a connective system, a central hub for the homeless where all agencies can work together, share information and resources,” George said, adding that a homeless hotline number (211), has been created for those homeless in need of temporary emergency shelter.

Former MCPG board member Walter Anderson, who owns a nursery in the Midway District, posed a question, “Why can't they (police) take shopping carts that do not belong to them (homeless) away from them?”

“They (police) can't confiscate the person's belongings in the cart,” answered George.

San Diego Police Department Officer David Surwilo told community planners a shift change recently happened in Western Division with officer's hours and patrols being shifted around. Surwilo reiterated that police response is “radio-call driven.” He added its doubly important for residents to call and report problems and issues, including those homeless-related.

“If you see drug use going on, or trash, give us a call,” exhorted Surwilo who added that police make every effort to be humane to the homeless, including not troubling them when they congregate underneath bridges during rainy weather, like the bridge linking Midway with Old Town.

James McGuirk, from Councilwoman Lorie Zapf's office, noted, while San Diego has the fourth largest homeless population in the nation, it is only 23rd in federal funding.

“We would like to see a re-evaluation of the (homeless) funding,” said MCPG chair Cathy Kenton.

Pointing out homelessness is rampant in Midway, especially with panhandling, MCPG board member Todd Horvath suggested it might be wise to do a public service announcement asking people “not to give to panhandlers,” but to give instead to support organizations empowered to help them.

“We're frustrated with homelessness,” noted Kenton. “We keep talking about it, month in and month out, and nothing's really changing – except it's getting worse. The mayor needs to take the lead on this. I'd like to see some kind of community task force with the mayor leading it.”

City planner Vickie White said real progress is being made with the ongoing Midway Community Plan update noting “we're really pushing hard for this to be done by end of calendar year 2017 (December).”

The Midway Community Planning Advisory Group meets the third Wednesday of every month at 3 p.m. at the San Diego Community College District - Continuing Education, West CityCampus, 3249 Fordham Street, Room 208.

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