SAN DIEGO — A 700-person homeless shelter proposed for a dilapidated property just north of the San Diego International Airport has become a point of contention after city officials identified the site.

Residents say the city is moving ahead without their voices being heard, calling the plan a foregone conclusion that was sprung on residents who live near Liberty Station and Point Loma.

“Point Loma you need this shelter in this community and it’s happening,” said Margaret Virissimo, a longtime Point Loma activist.

She says the city is being disingenuous with the facts of what is happening.

“H Barracks is probably less than a minute walk, and they are stating that it is a 25-minute walk away from Liberty Station,” said Virissimo. 

Residents say the possibility of drug use, crime and mental health episodes spilling in to the Liberty Station area is something they are willing to fight against.

“There are children who do Phys-Ed classes and PE on the fields that are a 5-minute walk from the shelter, and these 700 folks during the day are free to roam around. That’s not a good solution. That’s not safe,” said Derek Falconer, a Point Loma resident. 

The proposal plans to level old barracks to set up individual tents for hundreds of homeless people seeking assistance to eventually find longer term housing.

City officials say this crisis in homelessness is demanding swift action until they can get the homeless numbers under control.

“Being able to enforce on an individual can only happen when there is a shelter available. That’s why these shelter expansions — 20th and B, O lot, hopefully H Barracks — adds to that capacity, and that ability to protect that right of way and our sidewalks for public use,” said Kohta Zaiser, deputy director of community engagement for the City of San Diego.  

There will be another community meeting set for Thursday, Nov. 16 at the Point Loma Library.