CHULA VISTA — In the South Bay, Mayor John McCann is looking into a potential encampment ban using the City of San Diego as a reference, but even the idea of the proposed law comes with pushback from the community.
Protestors rallied outside Chula Vista city hall with signs reading “housing not handcuffs” and “housing is a human right,” all with hopes of preventing another contentious encampment ban like the one enacted in neighboring San Diego.
“We are talking about a humanitarian crisis. It is time for leaders to rise up with human centered solutions…and criminalizing poverty is not that,” shared Genevieve Jones-Wright, who is a co-founder of a legal advocacy group called Community Advocates for Just and Moral Governance.
“You as a city, cannot force anti-camping ordinances if you do not have enough shelter options for your homeless residents,” Jones-Wright continued.
This May, the city opened up a 65-unit bridge shelter made up of tiny homes to address the homeless issue, but advocates say the shelter isn’t at capacity and they’re not sure why.
“We spent $9 million on the project, it should be open, it should be running at capacity,” said Sebastian Martinez, who helps run a local homeless resource group called Community Through Hope.
While hoping to clear up confusion, Mayor McCann says the capacity issue stems from supply chain disruptions.
“We made the decision to open it up early and not have to wait until the end of the year — we want to at least house some people,” McCann explained. “We want it to be fully ready.”
The Chula Vista mayor also says the city is working on adding more shelter to bridge the gap, like turning the old Palomar Motel into a permanent housing option.
The city says it plans to host a workshop to discuss the current state of the unsheltered for the community on Oct. 5 at city hall before taking up the matter further.