Spring Valley

Spring Valley protesters call on San Diego County to scrap homeless shelter project

Although the County announced the project would be put on hold, protesters say they want a permanent solution

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Dozens of people who live in Spring Valley spent their Saturday taking to the streets to call on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors to halt a project to build 150 sleeping cabins in a vacant lot along Jamacha Road.

The lot, located near the State Route 125 offramp, is land that the county plans to lease from the California State Department of Transportation. The County Board of Supervisors approved the $18.5 million project in a 4-0 vote back in April, with another vote to accept $10 million in state funding to help pay for the sleeping cabins. Under the plan, the county said it would cost about $6 million a year to operate the site.

"I've lived in Spring Valley for 54 years," said Kimberly Hendricks, one of the protesters attending Saturday's rally.

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors have placed a project on hold that would build 150 sleeping cabins in a vacant lot along Jamacha Road in Spring Valley. (NBC 7 San Diego)

Hendricks' main concern is the proximity of the site to multiple schools in the area. "We have Mt. Miguel High School, Avendale Elementary School, there's daycares," said Hendricks.

A point-in-time count of the homeless population in 2023 showed there are an estimated 200 people living on the streets in San Diego County's unincorporated areas, which includes Spring Valley. The county's plan approved the construction of 150 sleeping cabins, which can hold up to two people each. Hendricks said she's done the math, and that's not adding up.

"Unfortunately, that's only to sleep. So where are they going to be during the day? That's 300 people roaming our streets," said Hendricks.

Spring Valley protesters hold up a sign on June 1, 2024, calling for the County Board of Supervisors to cease building 150 sleeping cabins in a vacant lot in the area. (NBC 7 San Diego)

A similar rally was organized in April, when the county approved the construction. On May 24, the Office of Chairwoman Nora Vargas, District One County Supervisor, released a statement saying:

"Our Spring Valley community made their voices heard loud and clear: they are not ready to move forward with the sleeping cabins project on Jamacha Road. I’m very aware that for a plan like this to be successful, we must have buy-in from both the communities that are being served, and the communities where the housing is being provided. In this case, we had neither, which is why I made the decision to pause moving forward with this project. I will continue to work collaboratively with residents, local businesses, and stakeholders to find a solution that addresses homelessness while also respecting the needs and safety of our neighborhoods." 

"I feel that our voices aren't being heard, we don't have representation here in Spring Valley," said Angelica Mendoza, a Spring Valley native who has been organizing these protests since the project was approved. Mendoza started a petition to call on the county to scrap the project altogether.

According to Mendoza, her concern now is that even though the project has been put on hold, that doesn't mean the county will choose a different location.

"We want a permanent solution. We want to stop to the homeless shelter and we're not against the homeless shelter, we're just against this location because it's going to be affecting 7 schools, 4,253 children ages 3 to 17 years-old and that's our concern: the children," said Mendoza.

Mendoza wants to meet with Chairwoman Vargas face to face, and discuss why the site was chosen, as well as what other options could be on the table. Until then, Mendoza says she and other Spring Valley locals will continue taking to the streets until their concerns are heard, and the project is ground to a halt.

NBC 7 reached out to Chairwoman Nora Vargas' office for comment, we are still waiting to hear back.

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