San Diego

San Diego's plan to bring safe parking site for homeless to H Barracks moves forward

According to the plans, the site would have 190 parking spaces of varying sizes

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The California Coastal Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a city of San Diego permit application to create nearly 200 parking spaces for people experiencing homelessness at the H Barracks site in Point Loma.

"This is a crucial step towards providing more safe places for people living in their vehicles to go and access services to help end their homelessness," San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said in an X post after the Coastal Commission approved the plan.

The lot is across the street from Spanish Landing Park and served as a training facility for the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. It got its name from H-shaped buildings that have since been torn down to make way for the city’s Pure Water Recycling project. That project is expected to take over the spot in five years, so, in the meantime, the city wants to use the lot to expand its Safe Parking Program.

According to the permit application, the site would have 190 parking spaces of varying sizes for standard vehicles, RVs and drivers who need accessible stalls. The plans also include a motorized entry gate, fencing with privacy screening, a pet relief area and cell phone charging stations among other things.

The application outlines plans, referred to as phase two, for two 41-ft. tall, 18,000 sq. ft. tents that could be homeless shelters that would fit 300 people each. The addition came as a surprise to those who have been following the project.

Derek Falconer, the director of Point Loma Cares, said it was the community’s understanding the site would only be used for safe parking.

"It raises serious questions about accountability and transparency with an administration that hasn't had a great reputation engaging constituents and really getting stakeholder buy-in," Falconer said.

NBC 7 reached out to Gloria’s office to clarify what they intend to do at H Barracks. A spokesperson confirmed the city’s focus is exclusively on using it for their Safe Parking Program. They added they wanted to seek approval for the tents at the same time so that they have it as an option, but it is not the intention as of now.

"Safe parking I think can work here. I think the right parameters around that with the right electrical hookups and wastewater and environment concerns, I think there’s a way to make that work," Falconer said.

The staff who reviewed the application for the commission shared similar concerns and suggested they approve the permit application, but with conditions. Those conditions included requiring the city to install “an engineered stormwater filtration device at the existing stormwater conveyance system.” That would help ensure any heavy metals, petroleum, etc. would not drain into the nearby water. Another condition “requires the City to implement best management practices to prevent accidental paint spills from entering nearby storm drains that flow directly into the San Diego Bay.”

The city did not respond to NBC 7’s request for an updated timeline on the project.

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