Homeless people disrupt Mira Mesa neighborhood

Land owner Pardee Homes says sensitive habitat restricts enforcement

The canyon off Montongo Street is a homeless refuge
  • The canyon off Montongo Street is a homeless refuge

A homeless encampment in a canyon off Mira Mesa's Montongo Street is stirring up the neighborhood.

Resident Katherine White says there have been three fires in the past two weeks. The land is owned by Pardee Homes, and, says White, "Pardee Homes has only provided a letter finally letting the police go [on] their property. Pardee doesn't clean up the random illegal dumping or address the homeless problem. Homeowners are concerned that one of these fires they are setting will get out of control and threaten houses."

The land is on a steep embankment. The homeless have a sled with a rope to shuttle down supplies. "They disturb the residents around the canyon by making dogs bark and cooking food at one a.m.," says White.

Jimmy Ayala, division president of Pardee Homes San Diego, says there are problems the neighbors may not know about. First, the land won't be built on because there is an open-space easement.

"We can't clear it because there is sensitive habitat," he says. "[On July 5] we picked up shopping carts and trash in the area. There are folks camping down below, and we are working with the city and police department to have the folks removed. It is a sensitive thing to remove folks. We are trying to take all precautions."

There are areas that are not sensitive, "and we are clearing them of vegetation," says Ayala. "We are doing what we can as quickly as we can, but probably not as quickly as [neighbors] would like."

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At least Pardee is willing to talk. Too often in situations like this one, the owner clams up and stonewalls the press and public. As to whether anything substantive will be done, we can only hope.

As it is, I have taken my granddaughters to Sandberg Park many times, and would have had no hint of a homeless encampment anywhere in Mira Mesa. This is the first I've learned about it, Those neighbors have their work cut out to get relief. The cops are of little help with anything like this in San Diego.

Visduh: Yes, Ayala responded to me with a call within a couple of hours of my inquiry.

Homelessness is such a difficult problem -- it's worldwide, and has been around for many centuries. In the U.S. in the 1970s, the deinstitutionalization of patients from state mental hospitals exacerbated the current problem greatly.

Southern California has the kind of mild climate that attracts more homeless. I believe that we all, as citizens, have an ethical responsibility to handle this problem. I doubt that the U.S. has the political will or social consciousness to do something now. Best, Don Bauder

Vickie Bragg: Yes, the world has a dual problem: a massive number of refugees worsening the homeless situation, helping to create political opposition to anything that would tackle both woes. Best, Don Bauder

Reagan and Republicans deinstitutionalized the mentally ill. We should call all the homeless encampments nationwide Reaganvilles. It is what happens when you give huge, unneeded tax breaks and corporate welfare to large corporations. And, it is what happens when you use failed trickle down economics cutting taxes too much for the top 10% and services for the working poor and poor. Studies have shown that a very large percentage of the population is just a few missed paychecks from being on the streets. There is a very large percentage of homeless both locally and nationwide that are US military veterans...that is appalling and unacceptable.

bucknpeg: Yes, trickle down economics has never worked in any society. But the Republicans continue to advocate it now. Best, Don Bauder

SportsFan0000: I don't know that we can pin all the blame on Reagan, because the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill started in the 1970s. But you are right that slashing services that help the poor and middle class while cutting taxes of the very rich and boosting military spending is horrible public policy.

It disturbs me to hear Ryan, speaker of the House, speaking up for more slashing of such services while wanting tax cuts for the rich, corporate welfare, and increased military spending.

I had been a lifelong Republican until 2004, when I switched to the Democratic party. I simply could not take it anymore. I deplored the wealth and income disparities and blamed them on Republican policies, particularly tax cuts for the rich. I also opposed the continuing military buildup while poor people were being deprived of key programs such as food stamps. Best, Don Bauder

Nick Nowak: Felix Who? Who he? Best, Don Bauder

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