SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – The City of San Diego is one step closer to approving the $106.5M purchase of two hotels to permanently house homeless people living in the convention center.

When the pandemic hit in March, the Bridge Shelters and Golden Hall were cleared out and about a thousand people were brought into the convention center, according to the mayor’s office.

The emergency setup allowed for proper social distancing, and resources to request PPE and other supplies.

The convention center will be emptied in December to prepare to open for events when it is safe.

Since the pandemic, downtown has looked different according to Marshall Anderson, Vice President of Government Affairs with the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

“I would encourage all of you to walk around downtown so you can see just about how safe and livable it is at the moment … For too long has downtown acted as the region’s homeless shelter. It’s nice to see another neighborhood bearing some of the responsibility for sheltering some of our most vulnerable,” he said.

The city plans to buy two Residence Inn hotels, one in Kearney Mesa, the other in Mission Valley. Together the hotels could house about 400 people and support tenants who are accessing services for mental health and substance abuse issues.

During the city’s Public Safety and Livable Communities Committee Meeting Wednesday, Mission Valley neighbors voiced their complaints.

“It’s a bad idea, I am absolutely opposed to this project,” a man who has lived in Mission Valley for 30 years said.

“My real concern is obviously the safety of my community but also the safety of the potential residents … I am just opposed to this idea because it doesn’t seem practical for the city and I feel like it opens the city up to a lot of liability in terms of motorist versus pedestrian accidents,” a woman living in the same neighborhood added. She is concerned there is not enough transit or pedestrian infrastructure in the area.

The people who would move into the hotels, according to the mayor’s office, are stable and already accessing services for mental health and substance abuse. The office added there are already similar units in the area.

The committee passed the plan to purchase the hotels and the item will go before the full city council on Oct. 13.

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