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Sherman Heights residents fight proposal to expand homeless storage facility

Posted at 7:00 AM, Jan 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-24 10:47:23-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – Residents in Sherman Heights gathered at a community meeting Wednesday to voice their opposition to a plan to expand a homeless storage facility in their neighborhood.

In June 2018, the city opened a 22,000-square-foot facility with 500 lockable storage bins that would homeless citizens to store their belongings to go to school, work, job interviews or seek support services.

Initially, city leaders proposed having 1,000 bins, but residents argued to have that number cut in half.

Within four months, all 500 of the storage bins were occupied, prompting the city to consider an expansion.

Residents, upon hearing about the possibility of more storage bins being added, expressed their concerns over neighborhood safety if the city’s plan was to move forward.

Jan Mari Hueso, who lives near the storage facility on 20th Street, said, “The city says there’s still space in here for 500 more bins, but a lot of people who live around here say put them somewhere else.”

Hueso described what she’s seen in her neighborhood since the facility opened: “I see people defecating, doing drugs, laying down, leaving trash, yelling and screaming; it’s a safety concern.”

Resident Connie Zuniga said, “We were told the other districts were going to come up with sites … nothing. Now, we’re told they’re going to expand. That’s not acceptable to us.”

San Diego police are spending an extra $2 million on overtime to provide extra patrols in the neighborhood.

“We’re providing daily outreach. We never know what it’s going to take for someone to accept services,” said SDPD Capt. Scott Wahl.

Statistics compiled by show crime in the area has dropped since the facility opened.

Despite the numbers, many residents say the stats don’t tell the full story.

“It’s what happens when they leave the site. Right now, we’re at full capacity. We have 500 homeless using the neighborhood as a bathroom. They’re urinating, defecating all over the neighborhood -- that’s a health hazard,” Zuniga said.

Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s office said the options are an expansion of the facility, finding a new location in another part of the city or both.

Another community meeting is planned for Feb. 20.