North County residents again express opposition to fairgrounds homeless housing

Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union Tribune)

Many Del Mar residents once again expressed their disapproval for the idea of homeless housing at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, a possibility that the board of directors who run the state-owned venue continue to explore.

Fairgrounds staff and board members have been considering ways to add homeless housing in response to an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom issued in January. It asks the state’s fairgrounds to assess their abilities to provide temporary, emergency housing due to the homelessness crisis. There are approximately 4,800 homeless individuals in San Diego County, according to this year’s homeless count results.

“We really felt that we need to do this due diligence,” fairgrounds board member Lisa Barkett said during the board’s Aug. 11 virtual meeting. “It is state property. We are under an executive order and we’re going through the process.”

At last month’s fairgrounds board meeting, North County residents denounced a proposal aimed at housing homeless veterans. That idea, which had been proposed by Fixx Solutions, is no longer under consideration. According to a fairgrounds staff report, staff will continue to meet with county officials to consider temporary shelters, permanent housing or other options that could help solve homelessness.

Local residents who spoke during this month’s meeting brought up many of the same concerns expressed last month, including fears of adverse effects on public safety, reductions in tourism and decreases in property values.

Del Mar homeowner Tim Davis said he doesn’t know of any homeowners who support the idea of homeless housing at the fairgrounds.

“I don’t think the fairgrounds board is listening to the adjacent communities,” he said.

Another speaker said that adding homeless housing “contradicts the mission and vision of our community.”

Barkett asked residents to bear with the staff and board members as they weigh their options, and that they will do what’s right for the community.

“I’m sure this will come to some conclusion sooner rather than later,” she added.

Imperial Beach resident Martha Sullivan said she was disappointed that so many residents from the surrounding communities opposed the idea for homeless housing.

“The hypocrisy is so thick you can cut it with a knife,” she said.