SAN DIEGO — A controversial proposal to purchase a multi-million dollar property to shelter the homeless caused a heated debate at Tuesday night’s La Mesa City Council meeting.

The facility proposal is a 16-acre site for more than $5.4 million in rural Campo. Some say it could shelter East County’s growing homeless population, but many were not on board.

“I see a problem that’s getting worse and I see a problem that’s getting worse in every city,” La Mesa City Councilmember Laura Lothian said.

Lothian proposed directing staff to research funding options and the viability of housing for the homeless.

“If we are serious about the city of La Mesa being home to a growing homeless population and growing homeless encampments and we want to help give a large number of homeless people shelter, food and help, we should consider an alternative to building shelters and housing in high density and expensive cities and appears to be unaffordable,” Lothian said.

Callers voiced their opposition to the proposal bringing their concerns to the Campo community.

“I moved out of El Cajon to get away from all that and I don’t want it moved out to the rural area,” one caller said.

“You’re taking the problem, that problem that’s occurring in La Mesa and Spring Valley and Santee and El Cajon, and you’re just moving it out to the middle of nowhere,” another caller said. 

“Plus the substance abuse, the crime, and everything else that goes along with it and without the resources here, it’s a horrible idea,” another caller added.

Other city council members were so against the proposal, they did not even second Lothian’s motion. 

This comes as other cities like El Cajon are fed up with encampments plaguing East County. But others say this facility is not the solution.

“You’re relocating, which as we said earlier is not solving the problem. You’re just moving one problem from one area to another, which is essentially what you are attempting to do,” another caller said.

Lothian’s proposal was closed because it received no second.