San Diego put down sharp rocks to keep homeless from sleeping near All-Star Game

When San Diego city officials installed jagged rocks under a highway overpass near the Padres‘ Petco Park in April to prevent homeless people from sleeping there, many locals assumed it was an attempt to clear out homeless in advance of July’s MLB All-Star Game. City officials countered that the rocks were there at the request of local residents. The news site Voice of San Diego filed a public-records request to find out the truth, and duh, it was all about the All-Star Game:

Sherman Heights is never mentioned in dozens of emails exchanged between city staffers discussing the rock installation. Rather, the rocks were part of a larger effort to clean up the area prior to the July 12 All-Star Game and improve the flow of traffic to and from Petco Park. Early plans, emails show, called for rocks not only along Imperial Avenue, but also along two blocks of a wall lining Petco Park’s Tailgate Park as well as outside the New Central Library, all in an effort to deter camping and loitering near the ballpark during All-Star Game festivities…

John Casey, the city’s liaison with the Padres until March, took the lead on getting price quotes for the rocks. In multiple emails, he urged city staff to move the project along. “Any breakthroughs?” he wrote in a November email. “The Padres and SDPD are asking me when we can see the curbs painted red as well as the rocks at the underpass and Tailgate Park wall.”

In early January, Casey emailed City Traffic Engineer Linda Marabian and laid out a checklist of remaining work to be done before the All-Star Game.

“Back to the vision of Imperial as a Gateway to East Village,” he wrote. “The wrought iron fence has been installed on the wall at Tailgate Park and works well at discouraging loiterers. Remaining work in anticipation of the All Star game is: Rip Rap rocks under the I-5 overpass at Imperial on both sides of the street. Rip Rap rocks at the base of the Tailgate Park wall from 12th to 14th.”

The VoSD didn’t report on where the homeless went who have been displaced from their camp under the overpass. Wherever it is, one hopes that they appreciate it as one of the ancillary benefits of their city getting to host an All-Star Game.


11 comments on “San Diego put down sharp rocks to keep homeless from sleeping near All-Star Game

  1. Interesting stuff blah blah blah.

    Let’s talk about the real issue, which is that since January 20, 2009 homelessness has been booming in the southwest, as well as in big coastal cities up north.

    • So…are we expecting that Neil covers BOTH bad stadium deals AND the crises of homelessness in his daily blog? That’s a lot to ask.

      (Although, indirectly he does talk about the issue, and has repeatedly. Neil’s drum beats the same salient beat: Governments are giving away the farm to subsidize stadiums and arenas for rich people which takes away from a cities ability to deal with other public issues such as homelessness.)

    • I do write about homelessness, but not in San Diego, and not on this site.

      Also, homelessness has absolutely not been booming since Obama took office, as Figure 1.4 here makes clear:

      http://www.endhomelessness.org/page/-/files/2016%20State%20Of%20Homelessness.pdf

      Yes, it’s absolutely booming in big coastal cities that are being flooded by young professionals who are pricing out those with low incomes. Again, something I’ve written at length about (and discuss in my new Brooklyn book), but it’s outside the scope of this site.

  2. Homeowners do the same thing to keep dogs away from the front of their properties. So the Padres asked for this and don’t pay property taxes.

    • Actually the Padres didn’t ask for this. It was the neighbors who requested it from the city. The Padres were just inquiring as to it’s status since they liked the idea.

  3. Keep in mind a lot of the homeless are veterans. I am all for putting the sharp rocks in the chairs of the politicians and team owners who go along with funding stadiums instead of the people and infrastructure.

  4. San Diego does have the most aggressive homeless population I’ve ever seen. I stayed at a hotel downtown for a conference about five years ago. Patrons were reluctant to walk out the front door because they’d be swarmed by one person after another asking for handouts. I’ve visited cities all over the country but never experienced such a thing anywhere else. So many attendees complained that the government agency organizing the annual conference decided to never hold it in downtown San Diego again.

    I can see why the city and MLB would be concerned about such behavior at a major event like the All Star Game and the negative publicity that could result.

    • I recently visited San Diego and walked around a fair amount during my 5 days there. I think I was asked for change maybe 3 times total?

    • Portland/Seattle/San Francisco have the most aggressive homeless population, I have ever been around.

      In downtown Denver, I’ve seen the same elderly woman sleeping outside numerous times. Just horrible, really. Nothing I can do about it.

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