SAN DIEGO – Before the Padres return to Petco Park for the club’s home opener Thursday, San Diego city officials confirmed crews are conducting a cleanup near the ballpark in an effort that includes trying to clear out the homeless population.
Officials say it’s to ensure the safety of everyone in anticipation of the busy week, but not everyone is happy about how it’s being done.
“Maybe the sidewalk is going to be a little bit cleaner for the home opener this week, but where do you think most of those folks are going to move?” longtime homeless advocate Michael McConnell said. “They’re going to move in front of another business and another part of town, maybe in front of some homes. How is that really solving anything?”
The city says the cleanup or abatements that began Monday is routine for many streets surrounding the park. Dozens of unsheltered people nearby were contacted and offered services or asked to clear the area.
The police department deferred to the city on a statement about the effort.
A spokesperson for the city told FOX 5 “the city of San Diego aims to balance compassion with the need to address public health and safety issues.”
They also shared the outreach efforts take place weekly downtown, but there is a focus on East Village this week, at a time when San Diego is expecting a significant increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic.
They reported six people were moved into shelters and two people accepted placement into a drug diversion program. Any arrests made were the result of felony or misdemeanor warrants, the city said.
McConnell feels more shelters and options should be available countywide, but speaking about San Diego, he is critical of the approach and type of resources.
“People feel hopeless out here because all the city is doing is moving people around from sidewalk to sidewalk, shelter to shelter without the real solutions they need to be bringing forth,” he said.
In addition to the police department, city outreach teams involving a mix of PATH and other service providers take part in these efforts. The environmental services department also assists in removing waste and litter.