City Council Considers Balboa Park Locales for Winter Shelter

“There is a loophole that would allow [a winter shelter for the homeless] in Balboa Park,” wrote Stephen Hill, policy advisor for councilmember Todd Gloria and consultant for the Land Use and Housing Committee in an email to community members.

The two locations under consideration, according to the docketed agenda for the October 22, Friday morning meeting, are the Municipal Gym and the parking lot at Inspiration Point.

Before council president Ben Hueso's office issued the agenda, only Inspiration Point was mentioned as a potential site. The San Diego Housing Commission added the Municipal Gym to the list because it was the site of a former shelter in 1993 and was mentioned during last week's council meeting.

Regardless of the number of possible sites, Balboa Park has been brought up before as a potential location for a winter shelter and each time the proposals have been rejected.

In September 2009, the city attorney's office addressed the question of whether the city council could approve the “use of a portion of [Balboa Park] as a temporary homeless shelter.”

The short answer from the city attorney's office was no. “Charter section 55 provides that a dedicated park may only be used for park and recreation purposes,” read Jan Goldsmith's response.

In his opinion, Goldsmith deduced that the only way for parkland to be used for other purposes was if two-thirds of the city's electorate voted to approve using the park for anything else.

But according to Hill's email, a loophole was discovered that might bypass that two-thirds electorate approval. The loophole is to declare that a homeless shelter crisis exists in the city. Approving the ordinance requires a two-thirds council vote.

“The loophole would allow it if the council declared an emergency,” wrote Hill in his email.

City council members will hear the item on Friday, October 22, at 10:00 a.m. in council chambers at City Hall.

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California state law provides another "loophole" in combination with other San Diego charter language.

A Superior Court judge may find that local lawlessness and an inability to enforce process may require a mobilization of part of the militia here. With the City already implementing cutbacks in public safety and with more cutbacks proposed if Proposition D does not pass, there is an increasing probability that there will be lawlessness and an inability to enforce process. Once a call for militia mobilization is made, the Governator may call for volunteers to serve in the mobilized unorganized militia and seize Balboa Park as city property (as a political subdivision of the State of California) for transfer to that part of the militia not available for federal service under reasons of military necessity pursuant to the State Military Reserve Act.

While all this is going on (or even if it's not), city charter language directs the strong mayor in an emergency to take command of the police department and (under FEMA comprehensive emergency management by objectives and the National Response Framework) take such necessary steps in response to emergencies including the temporary housing of homeless (either chronic or from immediate disaster evacuation) in Balboa Park or wherever the the brevet chief of police may deem necessary for public safety. No City Council action is necessary in this combined scenario as the absence of a quorum should never prevent the necessary immediate response under current amended charter provisions by the brevet chief of police in an emergency, and the assumption of a quorum present is not required under state continuity of government provisions. In fact, those provisions call for a neighboring county to install a new board of supervisors here if a board quorum cannot be located in San Diego County, and where the reason is the same, the rule should be the same as to restoring order in housing the homeless in Balboa Park with or without City Council approval, whether a council quorum can be found or not.

History judges our leaders (and ourselves in a democracy) as to how widows, orphans and the poor are treated. Those of us who believe in God of Abraham know where this thought comes from.

The confidence of the people in our local government would be enhanced by knowing we had civic leaders thinking of the people's welfare and taking initiative to accomplish objectives in the public interest. If our civic leaders do or if they do not, then that's up to the voters to decide in less than two weeks, isn't it?

Aren't the homeless there already anyhow? Does the city have to make it official? What's the difference? Maybe group tents are the difference. I only know what my eyes see.

RE #3:

Apparently the homeless have the good sense not to wait for the city attorney to churn out a favorable opinion?

Perhaps no such opinion is available that would be pleasing to the numerous volunteer groups involved in Balboa Park. That's a lot of organized and interested voters not to annoy with the truth about where the homeless choose to bust sod or camp out.

How about taking all the money needed for the conversion of Plaza de Panama from cars to foot only traffic and BUILD a shelter at Cortez Hill as advertised or is that also not going to happen due to building the Guacamole Bowl and it's $500,000,000 to 1 BILLION dollar price tag?

How can Taxpayers know what is going on if our Leaders keep changing their minds and spring new, never before discussed plans on Voters?

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