Normal Heights neighbors fighting homeless encampment

Say construction equipment is adding to problem
Posted at 11:40 PM, May 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-22 22:07:36-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) --More homeless camps are popping up near a dog park in normal heights. Frustrated neighbors say they're leaving trash, dirt, and causing trouble.

"They frequent this little corner right here," said Bernie Polanco, who lives in the neighborhood.

It's likely one of the first things you'll notice at the corner of 40th and Madison Avenue.  Trash, tarps, and blankets--all signs of homeless camps in the area.

"I really feel like it's hurting our community, hurting our little neighborhood," Polanco said.

A neighborhood just down the street from the dog park at Ward Canyon Park.  There are mounting frustrations about more homeless popping up at this dead end street and bringing crime.

"They were trying to find unlocked cars," Polanco said.  The problem seems to be getting worse."

One possible reason, neighbors say, is construction equipment from a city contractor and vehicles parked in the street that the homeless convert into living spaces.

"They would attach tenting and tarp(s) to the semi-trucks or the equipment, the tractors to make temporary shelters at night and before the workers would get here in the morning, they would tear them off," Polanco explained.

The combination of so many young families and people walking their dogs add more concerns for neighbors.

"My radar is a little more attuned," said Jeremy Dawsey-Richardson, who lives in a white house on the corner.

His house may be closest to the problem, but his attitude is far different. He has a unique perspective to this complex issue because he happens to work at the San Diego Rescue Mission downtown.

"I've spoken with the owner of those belongings and we've talked about it," Dawsey-Richardson explained. "He's working on finding another place to place them."

 He says he's seen it all in his nine years living here from public urination to fights, but has also seen the homeless sweep the streets and feed his dog when it got out.

"Once you begin to engage and get in conversation, the stereotypes come down," he said.

"I think people historically ask the question, 'What's wrong with you rather than like, 'What happened to you?'"

But Dawsey-Richardson stresses the importance of addressing the real issue...affordable housing.

"Where are people going to stay that they can make life work?" he said. 

UPDATE: The city of San Diego reached out to us with the following statement:  

"In regards to your story on the equipment at 40th & Madison, it’s from a contractor on a City job. We have already sent a message to the contractor asking that all of the equipment be relocated until further notice."