Homelessness Controversy Embroils San Clemente

One side of the San Clemente homelessness encampment. (Photo by Jackson Guilfoil).

Taking center stage in the ongoing San Clemente homelessness drama is a dirt lot full of homeless people camping across the street from $4 million homes full of angry suburban residents.

On Tuesday, June 18, a city council meeting in the Spanish Village by the Sea featured infuriated residents complaining about the encampment across from the affluent Sea Summit neighborhood, and a few homeless people speaking about their living conditions.

“People are coming to San Clemente now because they can camp by the beach for free,” resident Susan Smith told the city council. “We’re not only affecting home values, but we’re inviting everybody and their dog to come camp in San Clemente.”

The city council voted to allow public camping on the lot until the end of June 2020, which didn’t satisfy residents. According to them, the camp’s proximity to homes and parks means that it should close or relocate within six months, rather than a full year.

There are still no city plans to build a shelter. According to Councilmember Dan Bane, the city is exploring options to deal with their homelessness crisis, and hopes to work with the county to solve what he calls a “regional issue.”

According to the 2019 Point in Time homelessness count, San Clemente has approximately 145 homeless people living in the city.

“I was walking on the trail and noticed that every bench on the trail… had homeless people on it,” Sea Summit resident Marci Skinner said at the meeting. “They weren’t doing anything illegal, but what if they were? There was no one to do anything about it.”

Skinner added that the only reason she feels safe is Sea Summit’s 24/7 security service.

While many residents at the meeting spoke of fearing the homeless people, resident Gregory George mocked the city’s solutions during his three minutes at the lectern.

“The way we fix things in San Clemente is rub money on it,” George said. “Oh, I’m scared, rub money on it… I think I want a security guard because I’m scared and I’m a cupcake.”

Gregory called on other residents to help people who need it, but also added that some of the homeless people should be put in a sanitarium because of their debilitating mental issues.

The city can’t prohibit homeless people from sleeping outside without another option for shelter, due to a 9th Circuit ruling declaring that said doing so violates the 8th Amendment.

“I would never treat anybody like they do up there [in the camp],” said Tiffany Hudelson-McCall, who is homeless. “If you don’t feel loved, your brain don’t function right.”

Hudelson-McCall said that she feels a sense of community within the camp, despite earlier violence at North Beach, where the camp was formerly located. She said the other campers make her feel more safe.

“I know that if they’re around, they won’t let anyone hurt me,” Hudelson-McCall said.

But not all the campers feel that way. Jordan Barton, who is autistic, said that drug use is rampant within the encampment, and that he feels unsafe and picked on by people he described as “ultra-hardcore prisoner types.”

According to Bane, the next step is a regional shelter, but residents criticized that idea as well.

“Our problem with the regional shelter is going to be the density, the amount of people you’re going to try and house in there,” Gregory said. “Nobody’s going to like it. It’s going to be an aggregate problem.”

An editorial intern and news junkie with a hankering for all things spicy, Jackson gained a passion for journalism writing about housing and homelessness in the Bay Area for the Daily Californian and the Tenderloin Tribune. When not writing, Jackson can be found rambling to anyone who listens about old movies no one else cares about. He can be reached at jckguilfoil@gmail.com.

30 Replies to “Homelessness Controversy Embroils San Clemente”

  1. The city should get Planned Parenhood involved. They could kill the homeless, i’m sure they could come up with a more paltable term or euphemism to justify the conduct

    1. I’m going out on a limb here.. you are old, white, scared, and have had your brain softened by fox news, or worms. not sure killing the homeless is the move here Dale.

      1. WHY DONT YOU WORK YOUR ASS OFF TO LIVE WELL AND THEN THE Libitards bring these people in….to create HAVOC .drugs ,needles…. Shitting everywhere….
        …where do you live??? Huh smart ass LET THEM COME TO YOUR HOUSE… MORON

        1. Totally agree. We haven’t worked all our lives to support lazy or ill people. We can no longer enjoy our own city! Our kids can’t be safe on their own either!

      2. I don’t need to go out on a limb to say that You are an idiot for not getting the sarcasm in Dale Elsberry’s comment. I’m also quite sure that You are a big CNN/ Don Lemon fan and believe that our President is literally Hitler because Don Lemon told You so.

    1. Well Mike…you have no idea who you are talking about. These homelesss are long term drug addicts who refuse to work, refuse to follow basic laws and refuse to stop drugs and alcohol. Oh and these poor homeless, well one was pimping out his girlfriend and another didn’t want to pay that high of a prices so the pimp beat the other half to death in front of families at the beach. We have 5 who were all in prison for murder, 7 have aids, 2 flesh eating virus and all refuse medical treatment so that fun. The beach bathroom became a shooting gallery and the kids beach playground was were they dropped their needles. So again tell me how these are homeless who just need a hand up, or they are short term homeless trying to get on their feet.

    2. Hey Mike Melnyk… seems like all you did in San Clemente was haul your crap around town and get free food from restaurants and advertise for party buddies in your free motel rooms. “Give them jobs”?? How about “Find a Job”… There are Help Wanted signs EVERYWHERE.

  2. Homelessness is such a huge problem in Southern California especially. A large facility should be built on Government land away from residential areas. People save to live by the ocean. Homeless, drug-addicted, mentally ill people could better be helped in a less populated area. How about a desert area.

    1. I take it you don’t live in the desert. Send “them” out to the desert you say? We have enough homeless out here in the desert. Maybe we can send them your way.

  3. Instead of paying high rent why don’t we just go live in a tent at the beach and save lots of money? Just think no utilties, no rent. I pay 35.00 to camp now and humm it could be free.

  4. Cry, cry and cry some more. Never seen so many cry babies when it comes to the homeless. Who get treated with pure hate in this town.Do something! Quite complaining . There is no way that all homeless all drug addicts and drunks or mental unstable. Been homeless 3 different times in my life. Always found a solution to my downfalls. Built the shelter.

    1. So Danny, it sounds like your kinda stupid? The fact you can’t manage your money enough to stop being homeless says so much about you. Maybe instead of wasting time commenting on this you should read a Suzi Orman boook?

  5. The Compassion Expressed in above comments absolutely apalls me!!! I worked for FAM for seven years so know a little bit about homeless issues & current situation is a tribute to the City’s amazing ability & propensity to kick the can DOWN the road!!! This is truly a sad commentary on our beautiful & magnificent City!!

  6. Yes, homeless should be moved to less desirable areas. I can’t believe they’d be allowed to live like in San Clemente, but I know there are a lot of rehabs in that area. But this situation is really a safety issue for residents and tourists. Career homeless these are largely drug addicts or mentally ill. They leave trash, used needles, drug paraphernalia everywhere. They need to move them OUT.

  7. I always think…”There but by the grace of God, go I!”
    A lot of us are just a paycheck or two away from a roof over our heads! Show some compassion, feed the homeless and let’s come up with a solution for a shelter!

  8. it needs to be aggregate spread out part of the whole ,,,,
    i have hired these homeless before some would work and change their whole lives others would not show up after a pay draw either way the job site was was clear of them ,,,,,,
    now in calif. you cant afford to hire them insurance minimum wages and ids are all a obstruction to pushing a broom,,,,,
    we give tax breaks to employers to hire the challenged but not the homeless !
    a new policy that may help ??
    instead of building free housing foster care ,foster a homeless ? or just take care of your kin don’t dump them on the streets
    crv’s are the fuel to rampant homelessness and daily alcohol , crv’s harvested properly may provide funds to take care of the homeless and a jobs program for the same ?
    one things for sure the solutions will be aggregate also ?

  9. Who cares what their house is worth, you can’t take it with you when God calls you, if they had any kindness of wanting to help the the homeless instead of complaining and worry about your precious little house. Not all homeless people are drunks or drug users, some I’m sure fell on hard times you never no where you might end up. I can’t allow myself to live around people with their nose in the air. That’s why I moved out of San Clemente but I know one thing for sure God will knock you off that high horse.

  10. Why were these folks moved out of the LA river area to begin with ? A non residential area. Now they are a nuisance and do not belong if they are not paying their fair share as taxpayers. Ship them all to the desert for all I care. Vagrancy is against the law, but our laws are not enforced because of these ultra liberal judges. Just another example of the majority getting hosed. I’m tired of it.

  11. I will go out on a smaller limb and say you’re a millenial, and a Liberal. How have you supported the homeless? Maybe you live at home and don’t pay taxes?

    1. No, Todd, looks like you’re 0 for 3.
      Do you even understand what a Liberal is ?
      You know how I support the homeless? I don’t contribute to the problem. Give you credit though, you were actually 1 for 4. I do live at home. My home. If you need a place to stay I’ll consider you for one of my rentals.

  12. I agree. You people complaining about the homeless. No compassion. You are probably all church goers too. Sheila wants the homeless to dry up and die in the desert and good ole Dale wants to kill all the homeless. Line’ em up, eh, Dale? Give everyone a forever g’night shot in the arm. Where you gonna hide the bodies? I use to love San Clemente but you people with your big noses in the air or in someone’s business
    Yeah….I lived there for 45 years. Back when people were still human. People use to bitch about the surfers, now it’s the homeless, and a bunch of arrogant, high -fluent, heartless, mean spirited phonies. Dale…..you should hang yourself and Sheila, you’re no better.

    1. No compassion because I don’t want to support POS druggies roaming around the streets stealing? People like you are seriously just fucking stupid. I don’t give a fuck about these losers who could die tomorrow and I wouldn’t blink an eye. Fuck the loser above who was homeless because he can’t afford to live here. News flash dumb fuck, it’s expensive here. Go find somewhere within your means.

  13. I have an Idea, instead of illegal or immoral acts on another human being, how about acting as a community and fix a problem that everyone agrees needs attention. There are no easy answers to this problem, there have been homeless forever. If you are only going to attack and name call those who are conversing perhaps you should sit this one out. No one want to touch this issue because it’s almost a “no win” situation. Some homeless are bad people, some are mentally ill and some have drug problems. Everyone keeps viewing all these people as “one”…The State of Alaska has a population of 737,438 with 2016 homeless (.0027) San Clemente has a population of 65,267 with 145 homeless (.0022)…. It ain’t the weather. Open your eyes, look around the answer can be found, if you work together. Good luck SC.

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