The Coast News Group
Homeless man sleeps on a bench in Carlsbad
Community CommentaryOpinion

Commentary: Does Carlsbad have a homeless problem?

When was your last: meal at a restaurant in the Village; stroll on the Rail Trail; walk on the boardwalk; shared bench with a homeless individual at the train platform?

Some of us ordinary Carlsbad citizens did these things and witnessed homeless individuals engaged in drug deals, threatening behavior, sleeping on unsanitary benches or passed out and draped across a Village sidewalk in a puddle of their own making. 

We decided something had to be done.

We formed Team Carlsbad: Making A Difference and began calling into city council meetings and town halls.

Over time, we met with the mayor and D1 council member, city manager, police chief, members of the city’s homeless commission, Carlsbad Village Association, North County Transit District and Supervisor Jim Desmond.

So much of the homeless population regularly congregated, indeed “camped,” in Rotary Park, that our efforts were focused there.

Although Carlsbad has a city street running between the Village Shops west of the park, the plot of land is adjacent to the train tracks and therefore is controlled by NCTD.

We worked with law enforcement, local groups and agencies to put up signs to prevent loitering in the park, allowing Sheriff deputies and police to break up encampments and clean up the park.

If you’re still not sure whether Carlsbad has a homeless problem, consider these tragic events:

Carlsbad home invasion victim had 142 knife wounds “…Marjorie Gawitt had 142 knife wounds, including 95 deep stabs, on her body and head … the defendants, both of whom were said to be transient, to stand trial on charges of murder and special-circumstance allegations that the killing happened during a burglary.”

Homeless Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Arson In Carlsbad Fires: “…seven felony arson counts for allegedly lighting a series of fires in Carlsbad last month, one of which sparked a three-acre blaze that threatened homes and forced hundreds of residents to evacuate. One of the blazes became called the Park Fire…500 homes being evacuated.”

Carlsbad police arrest suspect in sexual assault at assisted living facility: “Officers arrested a 25-year-old man early Wednesday on suspicion that he sexually assaulted a woman a day earlier inside a Carlsbad assisted living facility… Miller, who police said lives “unsheltered” in North County, was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse, burglary, attempted rape, sexual battery and false imprisonment…”

Team Carlsbad argues that these folks are a danger to the community and to themselves.

We do not believe that it is compassionate to allow these individuals to prey upon our citizens, literally endangering lives and livelihoods. It is also NOT compassionate to allow these individuals to wallow in the abyss of drug and alcohol addiction and live in the prison of mental illness.

Let’s help everyone —homeless and community alike — be lifted out of the mire and despair of the drug addicted and mentally ill homeless problem.

Speak Out. Reclaim Carlsbad.

Kelly Leberthon, Carlsbad