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Homeless issue moving to the forefront

Friends Ariane Broderson and Cassidy da Silva are tired of dealing with the homeless population on La Jolla’s streets.

They say they want to figure out what can be done about the recycling center behind the Vons store, which merchants, residents and police say is a magnet for the homeless.

“I’ve lived in Soho and I’m not a scaredy cat,” Broderson said Friday.

But she’s had it with being harassed and feeling like she can’t walk around the Village comfortably with her 7-year-old daughter and her dog.

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A couple of weeks ago while hustling the two into her car after being verbally hassled by a homeless man near Mary, Star of the Sea Church, she lost her wallet, she said.

On guard

The owner of a Pilates studio on Fay Avenue, da Silva said she carries a glass or steel water bottle in case she needs it to ward someone off and once even considered using her martial arts skills.

A man who had been yelling vulgarities in Wells Fargo went outside and blocked her with a shopping cart when she left the bank, she said.

Broderson and da Silva were in the audience of about 30 who turned out on May 14 for a Town Council briefing by police Sgt. Richard Schnell, who heads the Homeless Outreach Team, and Capt. Shelley Zimmerman, who heads the Northern Division that includes La Jolla. Schnell’s presentation focused on what his team does to assist the “chronic homeless,” which he defined as those on the streets for more than 10 years and amounts to 10 percent to 20 percent of the homeless in San Diego.

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Not a crime

“It’s a very difficult problem,” he said, reiterating comments made earlier in the week at a meeting with a group of merchants.

“Homelessness isn’t a crime … it’s more of a social issue with a lot of elements.”

He urged people to call his office when confronted with problems with the homeless so his team of law enforcement, medical, court, mental health and social service agencies can step in to help.

Several of the questions asked during the meeting focused on the recycling center, with one resident asking, “Why is a recycling center in the center of a tourist town?”

Town Council Trustee Darcy Ashley, who handed over the president’s gavel at the meeting, said it is within the council’s purview to address the issue and “is something we should be looking at as we move forward.”

Report issues

She suggested people call the Town Council office and report problems so they could provide information to Schnell and the police.

The day after the meeting, Broderson and da Silva said they would take an active role in the issue, with Broderson saying. “I don’t want to just chitchat. … We have to get the recycling center moved.”

To contact the Homeless Outreach Team, call (858) 490-3850.

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The Town Council office is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Call (858) 454-1444.