San Diego

Police Records Reveal Years of Crime on Harbor Drive Pedestrian Bridge

NBC 7 Investigates reviewed San Diego Police records for calls to Harbor Drive's pedestrian bridge, following a brutal weekend beating.

Harbor Drive’s pedestrian bridge near Petco Park opened to much fanfare on the Padres Opening Day back in 2011. 

At a cost of nearly $27 million, the bridge was designed to help pedestrians safely cross Harbor Drive.

The pedestrian bridge over Harbor Drive cost taxpayers -million dollars but residents in the area say they feel its unsafe.

On Sunday though, it became the scene of a gruesome attack.

San Diego Police announced on Monday that they had arrested four teenagers in connection with the brutal beating of 56-year-old Edward Leon Starland. 

But safety has always been a concern for residents who live near the pedestrian bridge. 

“It needs to be something that the city focuses on,” said David Gapp, who has lived in the East Village for more than a decade and uses the bridge daily. 

NBC 7 Investigates surveyed the area and confirmed that elevators at the bridge are often closed, which means some disabled pedestrians can't use the span.

In addition, interviews confirm that visitors and residents are avoiding the bridge because it's overrun by the homeless. 

The day before the 2016 MLB All-Star Game at Petco Park, NBC 7 Investigates documented that tents and homeless encampments crowded much of the bridge. The next day, NBC 7 Investigates confirmed that city workers had cleaned the bridge. 

City crews cleaning Harbor Drive's pedestrian bridge near Petco Park.

NBC 7 Investigates also requested records of calls for service by San Diego police responding to complaints at the bridge. 

From 2015 to 2017, police responded more than 30 times. Officers investigated reports of underage drinking and suspected drug use. They issued citations and made arrests for disturbing the peace, robbery, grand theft, and assault with a deadly weapon. 

Neither the San Diego Police Department or the city would comment on-camera about this criminal activity. 

A city spokesperson said the Public Works Department is responsible for the elevator’s maintenance. The spokesperson added that Urban Corps of San Diego is paid to clean the bridge and elevators five days a week. 

NBC 7 Investigates asked the city what it's doing about the problem of transients on and around the bridge. 

A spokesperson said it employs 15 “outreach Ambassadors to build relationships with homeless individuals and help them get the support they need." 

One resident said that effort will have to continue, to control problems at the span. 

“Without that constant security presence, you are just going to probably entertain illegal drug use and a little bit of an edgy situation,” said Gapp. Still, he said he will continue to take his near-daily walks across the bridge. 

The city spokesperson said if people feel unsafe, they should call 911 in an emergency, though the police department's non-emergency line should be used for less urgent matters. That phone number is (619) 531-2000. 

If the area is not clean, people can report problems through the city’s "Get It Done" App.

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