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Differing opinions pulls homeless project proposal for tiny homes in Spring Valley

Chairwoman Nora Vargas announced Friday approval for the homes was rescinded.
Posted at 5:48 PM, Jun 11, 2024

SPRING VALLEY, Calif. (KGTV)—The proposed tiny homes for the homeless on Caltrans land on Jamacha Road hit close to home for some in Spring Valley.

“The community was really vocal about this, and it hit to our hearts,” Gilbert Chavez of the Spring Valley Collation 2024 said. “We didn’t really like it. We thought it was not necessary to put it here.”

ABC 10News reported the concerns from some people in Spring Valley about the tiny homes placed off Jamacha.

10News also heard from a homeless woman who expressed concern about the community’s disdain for the designated site.

Last Friday, San Diego County Chairwoman Nora Vargas announced the plan would not proceed after the public outcry.

"To my community and the residents of Spring Valley, I want you to know – I see you, and I hear you. The fact is, the only way that we are going to find real solutions to addressing our homelessness and housing crisis is to hear community concerns and find workable solutions that prioritize the health and safety of everyone who lives here,” Vargas said in a statement.

“The cabins project slated for Jamacha Road failed to meet that standard and was strongly opposed by the local residents for health and safety reasons. I understand concerns expressed by residents about putting these cabins near schools and parks where children play, and believe that we can find better, more thoughtful solutions by working with affected communities.”

“This is a case where the politician and the community both came together. She listened, we vocaled our concerns. We’re just a community. We’re just out here, regular people. We go to work every day. We’re just trying to make our community better,” Chavez said.

Some in another community don’t feel things are getting better for them with the project being pulled.

“I’m really not surprised. Good for you, Spring Valley, you got want you wanted,” Alessam, the homeless woman who supported the effort to put the tiny homes in the area, said. “They’re going to have to figure out where to put it at all now. It’s going to take however long, and it’s just going to keep us on the streets even longer. Not only that, but it’s devastating.”

According to the 2024 Point In Time Count (PITC), the number of people living on the street in East County increased by nearly 175 people, from 528 in 2023 to 701 in 2024.

Meanwhile, the PITC shows Spring Valley's numbers jumped by nearly 60 people, from 71 in 2023 to 129 in 2024.

“We’ve always been just a problem. That they want to figure out what to do with the problem, but nobody wants to compromise and deal with the problem. So here we are, still a problem,” Alessa said.

Chairwoman Vargas added in her statement, “I will continue to work collaboratively with residents, local businesses, and stakeholders to find a solution that addresses homelessness while also respecting the needs and safety of our neighborhoods.”

Those who pushed back on the project want that collaboration.

“We want to sit down with Nora Vargas. We want to sit down with our representatives and try to discuss a solution. And try to find out what can we do now; what can we do for the community and for the homeless,” Chavez said.

“The community needs to be involved, homeless need to be involved and our government. We don’t have the resources as community members to know what sites are available. The county probably does have other sites in mind,” Cathy Smith, another Spring Valley Collation 2024 member, said.

Vargas’s office adds that the chairwoman has acquired funding to look for and determine other sites for homeless solutions in Spring Valley.