Not in my backyard canyon

Residents of Talmadge and Kensington say transient camps on the increase

Photo of canyon trash posted on Nextdoor Talmadge
  • Photo of canyon trash posted on Nextdoor Talmadge

Residents of Kensington and Talmadge are asking the City of San Diego to clear out illegal encampments along Aldine Drive.

In recent years the canyons along Aldine Drive near Fairmount Avenue have provided temporary dwelling space for homeless people. Increased numbers of encampments mean increased trash and debris in canyons as well as potential fire hazards to homes above.

While City of San Diego crews have been successful in clearing out some encampments, it doesn't take long for the illegal lodgers to find a new site.

"The City has made a much appreciated effort to remove the reported encampments. Unfortunately, the transients did not move very far," a resident of Talmadge wrote to a code-enforcement officer, later posted on Nextdoor Talmadge, a community social-network site. "This email is to notify you that transients are now located in the ravine along the north side of Aldine, east of Fairmount [Avenue]."

"The property is heavily vegetated and allows transients to conceal their encampments. Transient encampments in this thick vegetation create an extreme fire danger for the community….

"We request that City Environmental Services remove these encampments and associated debris from their current location and take steps to prevent transients from relocating into other nearby areas. We recommend that the vegetation be thinned to eliminate hiding areas for encampments, and frequent foot patrols to discourage transients from using the area."

A code enforcement officer quickly responded to the message.

"Thank you for letting me know about the waste along this stretch of Aldine [Drive], and thank you for attaching photos detailing the location. Based on your map these areas are mostly on Park and Recreation parcels. I will go out there tomorrow to evaluate. From there I will work with Park and Recreation to remove the waste and clear out any vegetation we can."

According to recent statistics from the San Diego Housing Commission, there are an estimated 2400 people living without shelter, many of whom find solitude and escape hassle from police officers in San Diego canyons or along the San Diego River, the act of which presents a threat to natural wildlife and habitat, according to the city's Multiple Species Conservation Program.

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The wealthy neighborhoods that are around the canyons are getting a taste of what it is like to have the homeless turn the City's alley's into their overnight lodging, which includes using it as their bathroom and/or waste (no pun intended) bins. Protecting canyon lands is yet another way of protecting these neighborhoods from human encroachment, which is yet another quality of life issue.

A far more important health issue is that the City has failed to provide even basic bathroom facilities for the homeless in every Council District, so that the City can then enforce the laws against public urination. Every City Fire Station should have public restrooms added to their building, because these building are already manned 24/7 and those working for the Fire Dept. have both the experience and training to insure that these public restrooms don't become homeless hotels.

The City of San Diego needs to do a much better job of providing basic facilities for the homeless and that should not only include cleaning up the Canyon lands which abut our wealthy neighborhoods. Our City Council is a BIG part of the problems since they have not done anything meaningful to insure that their are basic public facilities available to the homeless in every Council district. We need to ask them why they are failing to act, while at the same time they are pushing yet ever more DENSITY upon us (thanks to BIG Developer donations), which only makes this problem worse for us.

The idea of adding public restrooms geared towards the homeless to fire stations is very interesting. I guess a critic could argue that having too many homeless congregating around a fire station could result in delays when emergency fire service is actually necessary though. The city has set up the "homeless check-in" which is basically a parking lot which serves as a storage facility for the belongings of the local homeless. Maybe another parking lot could be dedicated to provide twenty or so porta-potties so the area homeless aren't as likely to use the sidewalks as a toilet. I was walking around the (once) potential downtown stadium site last week, and most of the stroll was spent in a cloud of stale urine.

Dryw - The idea is to have facilities all over SD not just in one or two areas because there are homeless everywhere not just in one or two areas, which is important because when you have to go, you have to go!

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