by Photo courtesy of Horacio Renteria

Homeless advocates have filed a preliminary injunction in a downtown court on behalf of 14 people who have camped at Harborside Park to prevent the city of Chula Vista from being evicted from the public space. 

Chula Vista City Council unanimously voted last week to close Harborside Park, which sits behind Harborside Elementary and is adjacent to San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency. The city’s decision will cost nearly $350,000 to close the park for 90 days with fencing and security. 

Their decision came after healing dozens of people on the public health, safety, and homelessness issues. 

Several homeless advocates held a conference Tuesday at City Hall where they told local media that the park’s closure could be considered cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment because of the lack of alternatives for those camping.

Advocates cited Martin v. Boise, a 2018 Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that affirmed people cannot be punished for sleeping outside on public property when shelters are unavailable. 

The city said it will hold a “connect event” during Wednesday’s park closure where those residing in the park could potentially accept services.

Chula Vista has identified “sufficient spaces to accommodate people in Harborside park that will accept immediate housing,” according to a city spokesperson. 

Chula Vista purchased Harborside Park in 2003 for $2.3 million, investing an additional $2.1 million for park improvements. According to Angelica Davis, Homeless Coordinator and Principal Management Analyst for the City of Chula Vista, the park is designed to provide an open green space for residents in the area to gather for recreation, rest, and leisure.

Harborside Park had significantly higher numbers of crime reports, arrests, and citations in the last two years, compared to three other parks with high police calls for service, according to polioce.  

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