The city of San Diego installed sharp rocks set in concrete underneath and alongside a freeway underpass close to Petco Park. At the time, city officials told residents they put the rocks there to chase away the homeless because locals complained of feeling unsafe walking in the area. Now a different story has emerged.
A recent open-records request reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune reveals government documents proving the city put the rocks in place more to help the San Diego Padres than to afford safety to local residents.
Originally, city officials explained that the reason for erecting the sharp rocks around the road structure resulted from residents of nearby Sherman Heights feeling unsafe walking there because of the large population of homeless people congregating around the overpass.
But a review of the 700 pages of documents concerning the placement of the rocks shows the neighborhood was not mentioned even a single time as officials planned the rock obstruction.
Instead, the documents show that clearing out homeless people ahead of baseball’s All Star Game at Petco Park coming up on July 12 served as the main concern.
According to the documents, John Casey, who until two months ago acted as San Diego’s ballpark administrator and liaison with the Padres management, originated the sharp rocks scheme.
The documents show Casey first included the plan to erect the rocks on a list of things to do ahead of the All-Star Game.
In one email, Casey even told those arranging the obstruction that the rocks should “look mean” to discourage people from hanging around them.
Since completion of the project critics ridicule the display as an eyesore.
“Every person I take out there is astonished at how vicious it looks,” homeless advocate Michael McConnell said, according to the paper. “If you want to look like a third-world country, you do what the city just did.”
A City Councilman for the neighborhood also said he never heard any complaints of feeling unsafe from his constituents.
Worse, Councilman David Alvarez says that now the homeless have just moved closer into the neighborhood to escape the rock walk.
For its part, the Major League Baseball team insists it had nothing to do with the homeless deterrence system.
“The Padres did not suggest or request that rocks be installed and it was never our intent to deter homeless from the area, ” Padres management said in a statement released to the press.
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