The Coast News Group
A homeless encampment is shown in 2021 near I-5 and Encinitas Boulevard. Photo by Jordan P. Ingram
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: Does Encinitas really need a homeless shelter?

By Elena Thompson

Tucked away in The Coast News’ Feb. 24 print edition is a public meeting notice placed by the city of Encinitas to discuss “homeless prevention and shelter” at 6 p.m. on March 15 during the Encinitas City Council meeting.

Why would Encinitas want to host a regional homeless shelter when Oceanside and Carlsbad already have sizable shelters?

Are homeless shelters going to be like Starbucks along the coast, where every town gets one (and all that comes with it), regardless if they need or want it?

As Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey succinctly put it, “There are two kinds of homeless people, those who want help and those that do not.”

Do homeless shelters actually help people stop abusing drugs and alcohol, get back on their feet to obtain employment and permanent housing?


How will a homeless shelter in our town impact public safety when these residents leave the shelter to loiter on our streets? How will a shelter reduce the number of homeless on our streets?

What happens when there are not enough shelter beds and the shelter must keep expanding to “house” yet more homeless?

And what will the city do with people who refuse to stay in a shelter and opt for a life on the streets — the very justification for the shelter in the first place?

Have we grown the homeless population in Encinitas? What happened to the homeless hotels operated during COVID-19? What were the results of that experiment?

All these questions and more, including the results of the recent Point in Time Count, need to be asked, fully analyzed and publicly vetted before Encinitas considers opening a homeless shelter.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells recently stated in a news article:

“The truth is, California is unique in the nation in that it has crafted a network of laws and policies that are so permissive they actually encourage homelessness,” Wells said. “Meanwhile, generous social benefits enable a lifestyle of addiction, even as ill-conceived laws discourage or prevent most standard enforcement techniques cities have historically used to mitigate the practice of living on the streets.

“The result: People from all over the country — and the world, actually — come here specifically to be homeless. California’s population accounts for 12% of the U.S. total of 334 million, but the state hosts 51% of the homeless.”

This has nothing to do with compassion and everything with protecting Encinitas and its residents from the well-documented ills of other cities related to homelessness, including endless spending, more failed policies and an ever-expanding homeless population.

With over $13 billion taxpayer dollars spent on homelessness to date in California and few successful outcomes, Encinitas voters need to be watchful and involved in the conversation and decision making.

Cannabis dens and homeless shelters don’t make the best of neighbors. Or do they?

Elena Thompson is an Encinitas resident.