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Editorial: Homeless residents along San Diego River need help, too

The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Op Eds

An editorial from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

After months combating a deadly hepatitis A outbreak mostly centered downtown, city officials are increasingly focused on another aspect of homelessness: the growing number of people, largely out of sight, camping along the San Diego River.

The San Diego River Park Foundation counted 116 encampments along the river in October, nearly twice last year's 61 and the most since its tracking began in 2009. San Diego Councilwoman Lorie Zapf has called attention to the river for months. "Right now, to be quite blunt," she said, "it's being used as a big toilet because there are so many encampments."

Zapf and Councilman David Alvarez have proposed using the former Chargers training facility on Murphy Canyon Road as temporary housing for people living along the river. It makes sense. The venue is near the river; it has showers, restrooms and ample field space for tents like those the city now allows at a site on 20th and B streets; and while the city is erecting three massive -- and expensive -- tents elsewhere in coming weeks that can accommodate 750 people, that won't help all who need it.

A mayoral spokesman said no site is off the table but raised cost concerns about security and transportation and said the focus now is opening the three large tents in coming weeks. Yet none of those are reasons not to study simultaneous possible solutions now. Winter cold and rain is coming. Why wait?

(c)2017 The San Diego Union-Tribune

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