Ocean Beach residents sound off on homeless issue

POINT LOMA - Dozens of residents expressed their frustrations Thursday night over San Diego’s homeless population, complaining that not enough is being done about the issue in outlying communities like Point Loma and Ocean Beach.

At a packed meeting at Point Loma Library, residents said that the homeless population is hurting businesses, forcing some to hire expensive private security firms.

“I come in everyday to my restaurant, in the back, they're dealing drugs, they're having sex, they're defecating, they're painting the building,” said one Point Loma business owner.

“There's a lot of touchy feeliness about homeless people and how nice and sweet they are,” Ocean Beach Resident Shelley Guerrero said. “But you know what, what about the legality of it? What about the homeowners who feel like hostages?”

Those working to end homelessness said the solution is housing, something they're working to provide more of. Meanwhile, police at the meeting said that staffing was proving a hurdle in providing adequate public safety patrols.
          
“We do have a huge crisis in staffing,” San Diego police Lt. Natalie Stone told the crowd.

Stone said San Diego police are losing dozens of officers to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, several of whom were patrolling Ocean Beach.

“The projections for the sheriff's department in 2018 is $20,000 more pay, so what would you do?” San Diego City Councilman Ed Harris said.

Lt. Stone says her officers try and get to every call as quickly as possible. However, if they are dealing with a higher priority call, the person causing the problem may be gone before they arrive on scene.

Thursday night’s meeting was organized by Councilman Harris.

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