The city is finally trying to do something about the tent cities — the encampments of homeless throughout downtown. But its new actions seem to be more about herding than helping.

In recent days, “police have cleared East Village sidewalks, a move they say was spurred by the need to power-wash the area,” our Lisa Halverstadt reports in a new story.

On its face, that sounds reasonable in the light of the city’s deadly hepatitis A outbreak. However, “the city’s move to clear the streets of the East Village before it’s secured a medium- or long-term solution seems to defy preliminary guidance from consultants hired by the federal government, according to a document obtained by Voice of San Diego.”

Indeed, the homeless have few places to go, and pushing them out of East Village raises the prospect that the outbreak will spread to other parts of the city and county, especially Balboa Park. Then again, the filth of the targeted downtown encampments seems to be a prime mover behind the outbreak.

Our story explains what’s happening, includes comments from officials and residents, and notes that many of the targeted homeless aren’t accepting help, some because they don’t trust the cops who give them tickets.

• Four scary words: Hepatitis A vaccine shortage. The U-T reports that there are rumblings about one this fall.


We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

• The HBO documentary show “Vice” is in town to report on the hepatitis A epidemic, the U-T reports, and they were on hand to monitor the power-washing of the city’s “fecally contaminated” streets. If you’re wondering why the workers needed hazmat suits to spray a bleach solution, it’s to protect their outfits, not their lungs or skin.

The U-T talks to homeless people downtown about the outbreak, including a 26-year-old woman, described as “a small, youthful-looking girl.” She says she was hospitalized after she was kicked by hepatitis A in July and fell from 110 to 98 pounds over just a few days.

The story includes some unhappy news: “many homeless believe a vague rumor that the vaccinations are part of a government plot to implant people with a so-called Obama microchip.”

Some gay men get vaccinated for hepatitis A, which can be spread through sexual contact, although it’s typically not a routine part of their health care. Now, there’s concern that San Diego’s hepatitis A outbreaks could spread beyond the homeless into the local gay male population. Outbreaks are already hitting gay men in New York City and Colorado, the U-T reports.

San Diego in the News Spotlight

Slate has followed up on our story with an extensive piece about the unusual prosecution of an attorney who represents marijuana businesses. The Slate story says the DA’s office is “out of control.”

Voice of San Diego gets a shout-out in a Washington Post story about the decline of mainstream local news coverage and the rise of alternatives (like VOSD). “It’s not exaggerating to say that all kinds of local reporting — from day-to-day city hall coverage to world-changing investigations like the one celebrated in the movie “Spotlight” — is faced with extinction.”

Quick News Hits: Welk Theater’s Future: Not So Wunnerful?

Oceanside’s mayor, absent from office for months while recovering from a stroke, may lose his job automatically this week if he doesn’t show up for a council meeting. If he doesn’t appear, the office will be declared vacant. (U-T)

• The Chargers’ new life in Carson seems to be going well. (ESPN)

San Diego cops are turning to police dogs a lot more than usual, and critics fear they’re being misused, the U-T reports. Indeed, “some recent high-profile biting incidents have prompted complaints from community leaders, lawsuits and a large city payout.”

The governor signed 15 bills designed to address the state’s housing crisis, and the L.A. Times has a rundown.

Escondido’s Welk Resort Theatre, once a major draw for oldsters who appreciated “The Lawrence Welk Show,” is having trouble staying afloat even while embracing new programming like performances of “A Kiss of the Spider Woman,” whose gay themes left some longtime fans aghast. (Psst! Nobody tell them about Liberace!)

The venue is closing, the U-T reports, but it may be back in a smaller form. Meanwhile, the theater’s 4-foot-tall crystal champagne glass, a tribute to the bubbly that was a hallmark of the Welk show, is now on sale on eBay.

Looks like it’s BYOE: Bring Your Own Effervescence.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. He is also immediate past president of the 1,200-member American Society of Journalists and Authors (asja.org). Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

    This article relates to: Morning Report, News

    Written by Randy Dotinga

    Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

    1 comments
    Molly Cook
    Molly Cook

    Seems as if the people at the bottom always pay the price while the people at the top - often the perpetrators of the problem - go happily on their way with no price at all. 


    The Hep A crisis was created in large part - maybe all part - because city officials have ignored the homeless problem for so many years with the merest of help for the situation.  Now that the Hep A crisis has happened, city officials have jumped, albeit rather sluggishly, to "fix" the problem and look good in the public's eye.  The "fix" however has meant further problems for the homeless who have no place to go while the streets are being sanitized.  Of course, the city has long tried to move the homeless out of these areas and went so far as to put sharp rocks in places where they were camped.  So now, the city's fine and dandy with a "good" reason to clear the streets.   


    As I said, the people at the bottom are paying the price.  Faulconer and his cronies will just have another meeting in a safe, clean room to congratulate each other on the good job they're doing over coffee and pastries.  The homeless should be so lucky.