San Diego

Horton Plaza Park Remains Homeless Magnet in Spite of City's Expensive Renovations

Unless there's a law enforcement issue, the homeless have a constitutional right to occupy the public park.

After three years of renovation work that cost the City of San Diego $18 million, downtown's Horton Plaza Park still appears to be a magnet for the homeless.

Now, a year after the park re-opened, outraged citizens have lit up social media with complaints about the homeless. Downtown has the county's largest homeless population, and the "new" version of a park that's been there since the 1890s is right in their midst.

A tourist interviewed there on Monday wishes more people would think with their hearts.

"We're all humans, and we should be taking care of each other in whatever way we can,” Portland resident Alena Almquist-Heater told NBC 7. “And if this space makes them feel safe, that they have a community together, then why not?"

The park's expansion and urban renewal project is a definite upgrade from the rundown condition it had fallen into.

Unfortunately, the continuous eyesore of street people napping, shuffling along and talking to themselves is offensive to business and tourism interests.

It's a public park, however, and unless there's a law enforcement issue, the homeless have a constitutional right to be there.

While the place wasn't overrun with homeless people on Memorial Day, it's obvious why locals are frustrated with this glaring example of the nation's fourth largest "unsheltered" population.

The city’s public, private and nonprofit sectors face a lot of challenges in efforts to manage the down-and-out.

"So I see all these people,” said downtown resident Randy Snow, as he sipped coffee on the park’s lower plaza. “They don't have the discipline, they don't have the will power. Maybe somebody has to do something creative here and help them out."

In recent months, there's been a greater coordination among local government and homeless providers to invest emergency and long-term funding in the homeless, that’s now more available than ever.

But the problem shows no sign of disappearing, and the new Horton Plaza Park seems to be sad, living proof of this.

Contact Us