The San Diego Padres were interested in the city’s plan to place jagged rocks along an underpass in order to deter homeless people from congregating there ahead of the MLB All-Star Game, according to a report from Voice of San Diego.
A public-records request unearthed emails indicating that the Padres reportedly asked a city liaison about the changes underneath the Interstate 5 overpass at Imperial Ave. to get rid of “loiterers,” and used the ASG as a deadline. From the report:
According to emails, John Casey, the city’s liaison with the Padres until March, took the lead on getting price quotes for the rocks. In multiple emails, he urged city staff to move the project along. “Any breakthroughs?” he wrote in a November email. “The Padres and SDPD are asking me when we can see the curbs painted red as well as the rocks at the underpass and Tailgate Park wall.”
In early January, Casey emailed City Traffic Engineer Linda Marabian and laid out a checklist of remaining work to be done before the All-Star Game.
“Back to the vision of Imperial as a Gateway to East Village,” he wrote. “The wrought iron fence has been installed on the wall at Tailgate Park and works well at discouraging loiterers. Remaining work in anticipation of the All Star game is: Rip Rap rocks under the I-5 overpass at Imperial on both sides of the street. Rip Rap rocks at the base of the Tailgate Park wall from 12th to 14th.”
In a March 4 email, Casey told Marabian that the Padres were wondering if the rocks could be installed prior to Opening Day on April 4. Installation wasn’t completed until mid-May and was scaled back just to include rocks along the overpass wall. Original plans called for rocks curbside, too, so they’d be on both sides of the sidewalk.
When Homelessness News San Diego noticed the rocks in April, City of San Diego public information officer Bill Harris claimed that the request had come from residents of the Sherman Heights neighborhood. The newly acquired emails prove that explanation to be bogus.
The Padres told Voice of San Diego that they “did not suggest or request that rocks be installed and it was never our intent to deter homeless from the area.”
Correction (6:12 p.m.): The original version of this article said that the Padres had asked for the rocks. The report cited actually said that city liaison John Casey came up with the idea, and the Padres were just interested and asking about the schedule of the installation. This article has been corrected.