EL CAJON, Calif. — The City of El Cajon sent at least four warning notices to motels, which said they were in violation of city code and could be fined if they allow hotel vouchers to make up more than 15% of their motel rooms.

This comes after El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells claimed the county has been secretly bringing homeless people to El Cajon. The county has refuted that claim.

The motels issued warnings include Travelodge on W Main Street and SureStay Plus Hotel By Best Western.

The warning says the motels in violation of city code and say the motels need to “Cease unauthorized operation of emergency shelter. Reduce voucher use to no more than 15% of motel rooms. An emergency shelter is only allowed with an approved conditional use permit.”

The letter also discusses fines if the motels do not comply, which range from $100-$1,000 per day, per violation. The letter gave the motels a compliance date of Friday, Sept. 16 at 12:00 a.m.

“All we really want is to be treated fairly, my job is not to sue the feelings of various politicians, my job is to protect the people of El Cajon. They don’t want rampant homelessness, they don’t want El Cajon to become the dumping ground for all of San Diego County,” El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said in an interview with FOX 5 Friday.

Wells also questioned why other cities including Del Mar and Encinitas are not seeing similar hotel voucher numbers.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors Joel Anderson, who represents the second district, which includes El Cajon, said Wells’ claims aren’t true.

“Are you saying the county is not dropping off homeless in El Cajon that don’t live here already?” FOX 5’s Zara Barker asked Anderson.

He responded, “94% of the people that we place here are from East County, 69% of them are from the city of El Cajon.”

“A lot of us that are conservative feel like liberal Democrats created this problem, after they created the problem, then they want to push the problem over to one of the conservative cities to find the solution and that’s outrageous,” Wells said.

San Diego County Board of Supervisors’ Chair Nathan Fletcher issued a statement Friday afternoon:   

“Bill Wells is a fraud. While our county government is stepping up in a bi-partisan way to clear encampments, launch new shelters and actually get people off the street, the Mayor of El Cajon would rather dishonestly grandstand. The only outcome of his tantrum will be more homeless on the streets of El Cajon. Bill Wells should spend his time justifying his proposed tax increase to bail out his poorly run city and let responsible leaders continue to work on getting people off the streets.”  

Anderson stated in a press release Friday night that his office has sent a reminder to East County leaders to apply for $5 million in funding waiting on the table to address homelessness.

“According to Anderson, there is more than $5 million remaining in the second round of funding from the Capital Emergency Housing Solutions Grant Program—a program unanimously approved by the Board of Supervisors this spring,” the statement read.

“Many cities have taken advantage of the first round of funding, so I wanted to make sure my cities have every opportunity to apply for this second and final round of funding,” Anderson said.

He said El Cajon has not applied for the funding.

According to Anderson’s office, El Cajon has seen a 69% increase in homelessness from 2020-2022.