Fairgrounds board disbands committee tasked with studying homeless housing options

Del Mar Fairgrounds
Del Mar Fairgrounds
(San Diego Union Tribune)

The board of directors at the Del Mar Fairgrounds disbanded an ad hoc committee tasked with evaluating the potential for homeless housing at the state-owned venue, the board announced during its Sept. 15 online meeting.

The board’s Land Use Committee will vet any future proposals for affordable housing or other projects.

The Temporary Housing Ad Hoc Committee was formed in response to an executive order by Gov. Gavin Newsom in January that asked the state’s fairgrounds to look into ways to provide temporary, emergency housing in response to the statewide homelessness crisis.

Fairgrounds board member Kathlyn Mead and board member Lisa Barkett served on the ad hoc committee. Mead said during the meeting that they were “honored to both answer the call of Gov. Newsom to consider the fairgrounds to address San Diego’s homeless crisis, and to facilitate the learning that has taken place among fairgrounds staff and the board during this time.”

“In addition, it gave us an opportunity to accept comment from the public regarding temporary homeless shelter,” she added.

One proposal by Fixx Solutions that would have provided housing units for homeless veterans fell through earlier this summer. A procession of residents from Del Mar and Solana Beach told fairgrounds board members in July that they were concerned about increases in crime, decreases in their property values, doubts about whether the fairgrounds could provide homeless tenants the resources they need for long-term success, and other fears about homeless housing in the community.

Many of those residents returned for the August meeting, imploring board members to discontinue any efforts to add homeless housing at the fairgrounds.

Each city in the state is in the process of updating its housing element to provide more housing units across all income levels for the state’s Regional Housing Needs Allocation. The city of Del Mar’s plan, which needs to be certified by the California Department of Housing and Community Development by April 2021, is expected to include affordable housing units at the fairgrounds.