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An area at Leichtag Commons has been OK'd by council as a landing spot for homeless car dwellers. It will be the first of its kind in North County. Photo by Abraham Jewett
Community CommentaryOpinion

Homeless in Encinitas?

Are you aware that our Encinitas Mayor and City Council Members are voting to make Encinitas the Regional Center for the Homeless for ALL of North County?

Please re-read and think about the long-term consequences of that statement!

Jewish Family Services (JFS) applied for and received a HEAP (Homeless Emergency Aid Program) government grant in the amount of $256,369 to establish a “Homeless Parking Lot” in North County. JFS pitched it to many cities in our North San Diego County region and the concept was rejected. Then JFS tapped their satellite affiliate, The Leichtag Foundation located on Saxony Road here in Encinitas!

Last year our Mayor, Council and City Attorney held two “closed-session” meetings to discuss placing a homeless parking lot on the Leichtag Property, which sits in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood. There was no required public notice and no Community forums to alert the citizens of our City.

This former Ecke property now owned by the Leichtag Foundation is zoned Agricultural in perpetuity. To get around this, the Mayor and Council decided to “lease” a parking lot on the AG property, which became “public” property and therefore could get around the change in zoning without a public vote!

November 20, 2019, at a City Council meeting JFS officially requested to operate the homeless parking lot at Leichtag. Your Mayor and Council voted 4-1 to allow the item to progress to contract negotiations to be brought back for a City Council meeting next Wednesday, January 22, 2020. Please be there.

There are several aspects to consider here:

Providing a place for people to continue to live in their cars, is no solution and only supports those living conditions. It does not extend a hand for the better.

Breakdown for distribution of the $256,369 grant funds, the actual amount going to “Client Homeless” is  $5,000.00 (2%). The rest goes to Personnel Salaries and Operating Costs for Jewish Family Services.

With this particular type of HEAP grant, the host organization is not allowed to ask for social security numbers or residency, so how will they know who they are screening?

Currently, the City supports an “Opening Doors” program through the Community Resource Center at $107,000 a year. It has been very successful in helping our small population of known homeless to receive food, shelter and sustainable programs for training and jobs…a worthwhile investment.

Supervisor Gaspar at her town hall meeting here last week, said “Dump HEAP” as it does not offer a sustainable program or means to truly change a homeless family’s or individual’s circumstances. She offered several sustainable alternatives and financial support through the County to the City to activate programs to serve our current population who are homeless or living in vehicles.

Lest you think that this one designated parking lot on Saxony Road in Leucadia will be confined to this one neighborhood – better think again!  This proposal will make all our City Neighborhoods the Regional Homeless Center – a Mecca attracting a very large homeless population to our small seaside city.   We need to support the homeless who are now in Encinitas – not make it more competitive for them to receive help.

In a recent newspaper interview, the Mayor stated that the three entities involved, the City Council, JFS, and Leichtag would need to get together to discuss how best to handle this issue. I find it amazing that the most important group in this city – the citizens – the voters – are not considered part of this equation! Don’t you?

This is our City – please don’t let us become the Regional Homeless Center for North County. Don’t be sold out for $256,000! RESIST! Send emails to: [email protected]. Sign the PETITION against this HEAP grant at:

Sheila S. Cameron

Former Mayor of Encinitas


Verp April 5, 2020 at 5:09 pm


I just read your opinion piece and it’s as if you are running around Encinitas screaming, “FIRE”!, where there is none. Using this issue as a springboard to support a couple of political candidates is ridiculously transparent and rarely works to do much more than irritate voters. That ploy is not only generally unsuccessful but it is also amoral. 

The administrators for the Safe Parking Program are professionally trained to assist these people to find housing and perhaps improve their educational and/or job opportunities. How in the world can anyone object to that? If a person has no home to call their own, a car is most likely their most valuable asset because it safely stores their belongings, it provides transportation to and from work or job interviews and offers some small measure of privacy. In short, it gives you a tiny bit of control over your life simply because you are mobile. 

Encinitas has proven time and again that it is filled with people with a heart of gold. They are unselfish and kind toward one another, giving and generous when they see someone in need, and there have been many other situations and circumstances when our citizens have stepped up to help a grieving family, a depressed neighbor, or simply to assist when times are tough as they are now during this pandemic crisis.I implore you to find your own personal compassion and stop fear mongering. It is not in keeping with the kind of community character that is so precious to all of us as citizens of Encinitas.

Terrified Poor Person January 19, 2020 at 8:25 am

Hi. I’m a 27 year old guy who was born in San Diego, grew up moving between Carlsbad and Big Bear.

I’ve never been convicted of a crime, I’m not violent, or crazy, I don’t loiter, I’m not on crack, heroin, or methamphetamines. I’m not a pedophile, kidnapper, rapist, or any other nightmare you imagine exists behind the blacked out windows on my minivan.

I’m just a guy who’s going through some hard times. My best friend died some months ago, my grandpa died on New Year’s Eve.

I’m in the midst of an existential crisis and can’t seem to find reason or motivation to work two full time jobs in order to go to sleep at night in a way that doesn’t make me a criminal.

My windows are blacked out less because I care about privacy but more because I am afraid of fear-mongering people like yourself. People who would call the cops on me and have me fined, people who have so LITTLE to worry about, that I become their biggest problem.

A guy trying to make it work, hiding from the public because he just needs shelter and peace.

Daryl Dupre February 12, 2020 at 12:29 pm

Good comment. Keep doing good. And I hope things get better for you.

Daryl Dpre January 18, 2020 at 4:07 pm

Yes alarming nonsense. My Leaucadia was 1968. In it was a more American mix of farms and households. With a diverse range of occupation and income. Farm workers maids carpenter and bricklayers. To retired and some quirky bohemians. Your making Encinitas look very harsh and wealthy. And unkind…

Jessica January 18, 2020 at 3:50 pm

I agree. Try and stick to facts and not alarmist nonsense. It makes it hard to take you seriously

Lisa Shaffer January 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm

This is such alarmist nonsense, Sheila. Providing spaces for 25 cars to park safely overnight does not make Encinitas into anything but a compassionate community. The Leichtag property is still zoned agricultural and the parking lot already exists and supports the agricultural activities during the day. There is not any farming going on between 6 pm and 7 am typically. I live just down the street and I have no concerns about safety. The property has 24/7 security and the people being served will be vetted and provided with case management. The cars and their occupants already exist and some even already park on the streets in our neighborhood. Isn’t it better to invite them in to a safe space with bathrooms and showers and supportive services?

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