The Pacific Beach Planning Group discussed the upcoming election for new board members during its Feb. 27 meeting at the library. The group also passed a motion recommending the City re-instate the ban on living in vehicles on City streets and create more safe-parking spaces, in reaction to the City Council's recent decision to overturn the 35-year ban.
The Planning Group will hold its annual election for board members, 1-4 p.m., Saturday, March 16 and 4:45-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 27 at the Pacific Beach Library, 4275 Cass St.
All Pacific Beach residents are eligible to vote and can vote for as many candidates as there are seats available. Currently there are 11 residential and five commercial seats open. Biographies of each candidate will be available at the polls for voters to review.
Voters must bring proof of residence, such as driver license or utility bill.
Election Subcommittee chair Carolyn Chase reviewed the status of the open board seats at a special meeting of the subcommittee held before the Feb. 27 general meeting. As she explained, the 11 open residential seats include seven for 2-year terms and four for 1-year terms. The five open commercial seats include three for 2-year terms and two for 1-year terms.
The results of the election will be announced at the March 27 Planning Group meeting, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at the library following the election.
• For more information about the planning group, including subcommittees and meeting times, see pbplanning.org
• For more information about the election, contact Carolyn Chase at firstname.lastname@example.org
Living in vehicles
On Feb. 5, the San Diego City Council voted 9-0 to repeal a law passed in 1983 making it illegal to live in vehicles on City streets. On Feb. 25, despite facing objections from several community residents, the Council re-affirmed their vote.
The PB Planning Group took up the issue at its recent meeting.
Chair Henish Pulickal gave a presentation describing why, in his opinion and the opinion of many of his PB neighbors, having unknown people living near homes and schools in vehicles was a concern. These include safety, unsanitary trash, illegal activity and crowded streets. As the father of three young children, Pulickal said he worries about their safety as more vehicles with people living in them park near his home around Fanuel Park and his children's pre-school near the library.
He listed options, including re-instating the ban and offering more parking options and services for the homeless. Currently there are two safe parking lots offered by Dreams for Change in San Diego, as well as parking offered by Jewish Family Services.
Planning Group member Jim Morrison agreed that expanding parking areas and services was a good idea. He pointed out that San Diego needed to get ahead of the State in planning for increased density and realizing that many homeless are victims of the economy.
Pulickal responded that he was not trying to target any one demographic and it was unknown how many homeless are willingly so.
Kristen Victor said it was a tough issue and explained that it also impacts business owners like herself in addition to residents. She would like to see more regulation in housing development for affordable housing and more services to help homeless transition into jobs.
Eve Anderson explained that some neighborhoods have less homeless than those closer to the ocean and bay.
One PB resident said he did not want homeless anywhere near his neighborhood, and one Ocean Beach resident encouraged PB residents to work for solutions.
Crown Point resident and former lifeguard chief Chris Brewster described two vans in his neighborhood that have been there for a long time without causing problems.
"I am struggling with your demonization of this group," he said. "Without evidence, we shouldn't assume they are any more a threat than people living in houses." He admitted that he would not want people living in cars in front of his house and added: "There are good reasons to want to adjust where people live in their cars, so they are near appropriate toilet facilities, etc. But we should not unduly fear people whose economic circumstances are such that they must live in their cars."
The Planning Group passed a motion recommending that the City re-instate the ban and create more safe parking spaces. Member Steve Pruitt said it was important to have this civil discourse "… to get the community going with more consensus to resolve the issue."
The group joins residents in several other communities, including Ocean Beach and La Jolla, who are concerned that the beach locations attract more homeless people living in vehicles to create unsafe and unsanitary conditions for neighborhoods.
Advocates for those homeless see the overturning of the ordinance, and thus decriminalizing homelessness, as a step in the right direction. In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Kevin Faulconer outlined his priorities for 2019, with solving the City's housing crisis and reducing homelessness at the top of the list.
He and the City Council describe the measure as a short-term stopgap on the way to better long-term solutions. These include providing more safe parking lots for people living in vehicles, expanding a storage center where the homeless can keep their belongings, and hiring more housing specialists to work in shelters and more outreach workers to help get the homeless off the streets.
A recent homeless count in San Diego included approximately 800 people living in cars.
District 5 City Council member Mark Kersey called the decision the lesser of evils. "It's certainly not a permanent solution to the crisis we are facing," he is quoted in The San Diego Union-Tribune. "But 100 percent of the time, I'd rather have someone sleeping in a car than on the sidewalk."
RVs and cars still cannot park for more than 72 hours in the same location.
Karin Zirk of Friends of Rose Creek announced that she is working with District 2 City Council member Jen Campbell to get the lower Rose Creek area designated as City parkland. So far, the City has been reluctant to do so. Zirk explained that with the City's plan to increase housing density in the area near the creek, there needs to be open space for people to enjoy. She encouraged people to attend a City Council meeting and sign the petition at saverosecreek.org
— Pacific Beach Planning Group next meets 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27 at the PB Library, 4275 Cass St. pbplanning.org