Parents concerned about kids using park restrooms amid hepatitis A outbreak

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SAN DIEGO – As the city continues to clean up the homeless problem downtown, there’s a new worry surfacing in San Diego’s surrounding neighborhoods.

Friday at Balboa Park, FOX 5 crews spotted various camps dotting the area around the playground on 6th Avenue.

“Makes me more aware of where my kids are playing and is it safe?” said Cassia Nighton.

Nighton and her kids were visiting the park from Lakeside.

“If it’s someplace that has been exposed, how much more susceptible are my kids?” said Nighton.

Knighton is not alone in her concern.

One Liberty Station resident wrote on neighborhood social network NextDoor:

“There has recently been an increase in the number of homeless at NTC Park. The homeless have encampments around the picnic areas and use the public restrooms. With the outbreak of hepatitis among the homeless this could be a public hazard. Many families and organizations use these facilities. Hopefully park officials are aware of this potential problem.”

“Certainly in the last 2 months, there’s been an influx of other people,” said Nicole Hobbs.

Hobbs represents a contingency of residents in Normal Heights upset about the recent influx of homeless in their neighborhood.

“We have people living in our neighborhoods who don’t have access to toilets, who don’t have access to showers, so our backyards and alleys are becoming their beds and toilets,” said Hobbs.

She also said many of these camps are found at a popular neighborhood park near 39th Street and Adams Avenue.

We are in the park barefoot, climbing; we’re in the sandpits. We live outside. This is San Diego,” said Hobbs. “With the hep A outbreak, it makes us very worried. It doesn’t stop us from playing outside, but certainly makes us concerned,”

Hobbs said she’s trying to be understanding about the situation, but no matter how you look at it, it’s difficult.

“On the one hand, I don’t want you using my backyard as my toilet and on the other hand, these are our neighbors, these are fellow humans. We need to make a plan,” said Hobbs.

FOX 5 contacted Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office and was told there is a plan underway for a temporary homeless camp.

“We are monitoring the situation and our homeless outreach teams continue to partner with county nurses to administer the vaccine to anyone who is at risk,” said Katie Keach, director of Communications Department.