Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

| May 5, 2024 | 0 Comments

Homeless and San Diegans Lose from Proposed 1,000 Person Homeless Shelter

Over the last month, residents and business owners from several connected communities have been dealing with another effort by city officials to turn toxic environmental properties into homeless facilities for a “record number” of individuals with varying issues: mental health, drug addiction, criminal backgrounds and families priced out of the housing market.

The H Barracks in Point Loma and now the Kettner-Vine Rush Press building are the focus of city officials who believe this is a quick fix to helping the homeless. 

It’s just the opposite. 

The Kettner-Vine site, besides having serious potential health issues due to being a former printing press site, is also adjacent to an industrial waste management facility that stored, treated, and recycled hazardous waste and acids. Now it is being proposed to house 1,000 people with varying reasons of homelessness.  This is to take place in an existing 65,000 square foot facility on a one and one-half acre lot.  That’s a lot of people on a very small footprint. 

Any logical and rational individual would know that integrating that combination of individuals is a liability waiting to happen.  Mental health experts would tell you that you’re creating a toxic environment with that mixture of individual needs and challenges. 

And you want children and families to be exposed to the lifestyle of those who are mentally unstable, and drug challenged? 

That is just wrong from every perspective.

Let’s also include the reality that there are connected communities impacted by all of this. 

Middletown, which is right next door (to the east) is the residence of thousands of individuals, and schools and businesses are within close proximity.  Yet, city officials seem unwilling to recognize this or even acknowledge that they should be included in the discussion of the possible “cause and effect” of this large, proposed homeless facility. 

Other neighboring communities are also concerned. Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California and a major tourist attraction, is already being overwhelmed and impacted by homeless crime and drug users.  In fact, Old Town State Park has seen a 60-plus percent increase in homeless incidents over the past two years.  Those incidents don’t help attract tourists.   Yet, the city has done little if anything to address the problem or even recognize that it exists.

Unfortunately, what we are receiving from city officials and their staff is a lot of misinformation.

At an April Old Town Chamber of Commerce board meeting, Randy Reyes, who is Mayor Gloria’s representative for council districts 2 and 5, made the statement that “leaders” from surrounding communities were in support of this project. 

I questioned him during the meeting and asked, “Who are the leaders that you are referring to and what communities do they represent?”

He couldn’t identify the “leaders” and appeared uncomfortable with the question. 

The previous week I attended a Mission Hills Town Council (MHTC) meeting with no representation from Councilman Whitburn or Mayor Gloria’s offices.  I shared information about the Kettner-Vine homeless facility.  Residents and business owners in attendance, upwards of 80 voted in opposition of the facility. I shared this information with Reyes and asked why no one from his office was present for the MHTC meeting. He offered no response.

San Diego real estate and hospitality guru Douglas Hamm purchased the property for $13.25 million, April 2, 2024, after months in escrow. Apparently, based on a recent article in the Voice of San Diego, he approached the city with this concept.

The mayor is proposing a 35-year lease with two possible 5-year extensions.

Rent would be $1.9 million per year, and city officials estimate the building needs $18 million in renovations and upgrades.

Early cost estimates are that the shelter, in the first year alone, is almost $50M ($1.9 million rent plus $18 million to refurbish the site plus $30 million in operating expenses) which equals almost $50,000 per person, per year or $4,200 per person, per month – far above the average rent paid in San Diego.

At a recent rally and press conference at the site, upwards of 80 people from surrounding communities, including Middletown, Old Town, Mission Hills, and Point Loma, came to  demonstrate their concerns regarding the proposal.

A nurse commented about the “inhumane conditions that the 1,000-person facility would create.”

She also shared concerns about staffing the facility. There is a shortage of individuals willing to work with all of the serious mental health, drug, and alcohol issues of the majority of the homeless who would be housed at the site.  She called it “warehousing the homeless.”

And a local contractor, Ed Moore, sighted serious concerns with the current structure housing that many people, “How can this structure be viable for that many people with all of their unique needs?” 

The facility will need to provide an industrial kitchen and cafeteria, restrooms, showers, separated housing and bedrooms, medical services, indoor recreational services for children and adults with varying physical needs, housekeeping, etc.

And what about outdoor recreational services, playground equipment, shade coverage, picnic tables, and other amenities. 

Unfortunately, Kettner-Vine is looking like another quick fix scheme by city staff, rather than a thoughtful and well-developed plan.  

It’s election year and the city staff’s lack of successful action on addressing the homeless is on the minds of most San Diegans. Upwards of 500 people have signed a petition in opposition of the site. If you’d like to learn more about the Kettner-Vine project, visit

Residents and business owners from surrounding communities were present for a rally in opposition of the site as a homeless facility for 1,000 people.

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