Enough With Ballot Issues Hijacking Homelessness' Empathy Factor

SpeakEasy: The San Diego Sun's premium newsletter for August 16, 2022

In the contorted world of election campaigns, homelessness solutions have been transformed into political eye candy.

In my opinion, it’s an upside-down, deceptive and insidious development.

Homelessness itself is a polarizing subject. Yet, it increasingly gets tacked on like a bow to propositions, measures and candidate campaigns.

The topic apparently isn’t sexy enough to win a race by itself. Seemingly, a majority of voters wouldn’t vote for, say, a state proposition or local measure funding a pot of money or a plan to abate homelessness.

Yet, political operators see empathy connected to unsheltered people. Ergo, all sorts of aid packages get shuffled into unrelated races.

For example: Mobile Sports Wagering. The San Diego Sheriff’s race. Expansion of the San Diego Convention Center.

Believe it or not, homelessness aid has become the shiny object dangled as bait for less-empathetic causes.

[Cover photo: Getty Images]

California Prop 27

It’s likely you’ve seen advertising for and against Proposition 27. It’s on the California state ballot for November 8, 2022. A “yes” vote legalizes online and mobile sports betting.

If you vote yes for “The Solutions Act,” proponents say a portion of tax revenue generated by the new gaming law will go to homelessness programs and state Indian tribes. The following is from a “Yes on 27” TV ad:

“…it provides hundreds of millions every year for permanent solutions to homelessness, mental health and addiction in California…By taxing and regulating online sports betting for adults 21 and over we can protect tribal sovereignty and finally do something about homelessness in California.”

Opponents of Prop 27 claim the law is written by online gaming companies FanDuel and DraftKings for their own benefit. Opposition ads say:

“…ninety percent of the profits go to out-of-state corporations. A tiny share goes to the homeless…”

Prop 27 engenders layer upon layer of intrigue, dispute and controversy–none of which takes the logistics of abating homelessness seriously.

San Diego Sheriff’s Race

In the June 2022 primary election, the top two vote getters in the San Diego County Sheriff’s race were John Hemmerling and Kelly Martinez.

Both will advance to the November general election.

Currently the County Undersheriff, Martinez ran heavily on the notion that as sheriff she “…will be the experienced leader San Diego needs to finally fix homelessness.”

Her campaign literature states she would:

  • Get the homeless off the streets, sidewalks and parks and into a safe environment.
  • Prohibit homeless encampments near schools, parks libraries and day care centers.
  • Lead the county’s efforts to deliver the services which these individuals need.

It’s not clear why our sheriff would be the elected official empowered to “finally fix homelessness.” Or, why that position would be the one to “lead the county’s efforts.

Convention Center Expansion

Back in our 2020 election, Measure C was a hotel-tax proposal presented to voters as a way to expand the San Diego Convention Center, reduce homelessness and rebuild roads.

Political consultant Tom Shepard (who was not involved in Measure C) spoke to inewsource about the reasoning for combining those three goals. Before the election he said:

“The strategic decision made was that by adding the homeless services component and the street maintenance they would be able to secure more voter support. Whether that turns out to be true or not is as yet unclear, but voters ought not be confused. The majority of these funds are going to finance the expansion of the convention center.”

Footnote: Measure C needed two-thirds majority vote support and just missed passing with 65 percent. However, earlier this year the San Diego City Council voted to continue fighting to legally gain Measure C funding.

However that battle turns out, the lack of benefit to unsheltered San Diegans echos in Shepard’s words: “The majority of these funds are going to finance the expansion of the convention center.

The bait-and-switch needs to end. Aside from being disingenuous, it’s a distraction from focusing on real homelessness solutions.

In Other Aggregated News…

Cheers to Sammy Hagar

Sammy Hagar will visit San Diego August 18.

Rock & Roll Hall of Famer. Former Van Halen front man. Spirits trailblazer. Beach cleanup advocate? The irrepressible Sammy Hagar will make appearances in San Diego on August 18 to promote a new offering from Sammy’s Beach Bar Cocktail Co.

“San Diego represents the beach lifestyle that’s at the core of my new sparkling rum cocktails in a can,” said Hagar, a longtime So Cal resident. “I can’t think of a better place to celebrate summer than the beaches and bars of America’s Finest City.”

The Red Rocker will present a check to Surfrider Foundation at Beach House in Mission Beach in the afternoon on August 18. Then, he’ll swing downtown to mingle with Padres pre-gamers at Tin Roof.

A Hagar/Surfrider beach cleanup is scheduled for August 27. Details here.


The Get It Done app is the City of San Diego’s conduit for reporting non-emergency problems. Here’s my experience with the app. On September 13, 2021, I opened a report about the Fifth Avenue bike lane being blocked. Bummer. I know the bike lane was operational in January 2022. I’ve been using it. Yay. On August 5, 2022, I received email notice of such, and my report was officially closed. Wheels of progress.

Comic-Con & Gone

The mighty Comic-Con has come and gone. The packed-to-the-gills pop-culture convention didn’t have room for everybody that wanted to get in. However, adhering to vaccination protocols caused some vendors to opt out. According to The Con spokesperson David Glanzer: “A few exhibitors pulled out but their spaces will be filled with new booths, and maybe some lounge space to give people a chance to sit down and rest…there are some entities that decided they don’t want to do the show…them losing their space is something they don’t care about.” (Forbes)

The soon-to-be Kimpton Alma. (Polygraph Creative)

Hotel Getting New Soul

The 211-room Hotel Palomar on Sixth Avenue is getting a $25-million redesign–and a new soul. Ha-ha. The newly designed property will be called Kimpton Alma (Alma is Spanish for “soul”). A yet-to-be-named restaurant will replace the shuttered Curadero. The hotel’s pool deck will also be remodeled and should be open by October. (Union-Tribune)

AC Hotel On Tap

The under-construction AC Hotel in the Gaslamp Galleria Building on Sixth Avenue is due for completion and will add 147 rooms to the downtown inventory. The property will include a small conference center, a gym and a rooftop bar. (LaJolla.com)

Curtains for California Theatre?

Lax safety concerns are at the forefront of the latest bid to finally get rid of the blighted California Theatre building at Fourth Avenue and C Street. Developers and history preservationists have piped up or made proposals about the future of the unsightly space for 30 years. San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria’s now demanding current develop Caydon Property Group abandon a city-approved redevelopment plan and tear down the property. (VoiceOfSanDiego)

Princess Cruises is pulling some San Diego stops. (Courtesy photo)

Princess Cruises Away

Princess Cruises announced it had to cancel 11 upcoming trips out of San Diego in the fall. The nixed trips means 40,000 fewer passengers will come through downtown San Diego. According to the Port of San Diego, each cruise represents a visitor impact of $2 million. (Union-Tribune)

Chasing the Blues Festival

You’ll recognize the beard instantly. Former ZZ Top blues-rock guitar legend Bill F. Gibbons and his band will be one of the headliners at the San Diego Blues Festival. The event takes place on Embarcadero Marina Park North on September 10 (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) Get ticket information here: Blues Festival.

Deals & Contests

San Diego Council on Literacy’s photo contest. (Sal Giametta)

  • BOOK ‘EM!: Paging shutterbugs! There’s time to enter the “Book Humans of San Diego Photo Competition.” Presented by the San Diego Council on Literacy, all it requires is taking a photograph of somebody reading a book somewhere in the region. Deadline is September 5. The winner gets two vouchers for round-trip tickets on Alaska Airlines. For more information: Book Humans.
  • MUSIC MAGIC: Sofar Sounds is an international community of music fans, artists and hosts that put on semi-secret concerts every month. In San Diego, events are ramping up, with dozens of offerings in communities all over the region. Adventuresome? Want to try it out? Go to the Sofar Sounds website, select a city and pick out a show. Use the promo code: SDSUN10 and get 10 percent off the ticket price. (Note: Offer applies to one-time use per person.)
  • WALK THIS WAY. Out of the Ordinary Group Adventures has a Get Fit Walking program that’s both fun and a physical fitness boon. (Check out the story about the company’s downtown San Diego scavenger hunts.) Groups that want to participate in Out of the Ordinary’s “Hidden Gems” or “Secret Beaches” walks can go HERE for details. Use the promo code: SDSun11 and get an 11-percent discount on tickets.
  • OH SAY, CAN YOU SEE? Have trouble seeing the online print when reading insightful, hyperlocal newsletters? Check out Readers.com for its vast and affordable supply of reading glasses. Use the Code: SUMMER40 and get 40 percent off your order. (Expires October 31, 2022.) SDSun


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