CHULA VISTA, Calif. — Parents sounded the alarm during a meeting Wednesday with Chula Vista school and city leaders over a homeless encampment causing problems next to an elementary school.
Harborside Elementary School officials, police and city leaders met with parents to inform them of what they’re doing to keep children safe. But parents say more needs to be done to address the issue.
“I’m not buying it. I’m not buying what you’re telling us because I’ve heard it many times before,” one community member said at the meeting.
“They deserve the right to live too, but so do our children. They have the right to be able to run around and not be able to find needles or whatever they find over there…what’s going to be done?!” parent Jennifer Crosthwaite said.
Chula Vista Deputy Mayor Andrea Cardenas agreed that “there’s an obvious frustration,” and what they’re doing “hasn’t worked.”
“That’s why we’re here to have a conversation … with everybody here, with all the different partners to make sure our next steps are actually going to bring change that we need in this district,” Cardenas said.
Parents are worried about drug abuse, police activity and even overdoses at the park.
“I’m worried that it’s a too little, too late kind of thing,” Crosthwaite said. “They’re throwing out. We’re doing this. We’re doing this. OK, but is it working?”
City leaders, staff and police gave parents an overview of what they are doing to keep kids safe, including homeless outreach and patrols with school resource officers.
“We’re going to have a fence that’s going to—or some sort of plastic barrier that’s not going to permit the kids to be seeing all of the stuff that’s happening there. That’s not a long-term solution, that’s just something that we can do now,” Cardenas said.
Parents also wrote down their concerns and ideas for leaders, hoping to see some real change.
“For me, I would like to see actions that yield results immediately,” interim Principal Michael Perez said.
City leaders say another possible solution will be a homeless shelter being built in Chula Vista that is expected to open by the end of summer.