When San Diego City Councilmember Todd Gloria received a list of boards and commissions needing City Council representatives, he immediately claimed one of two spots on the City / County Joint Homeless Task Force. Then he asked his staff to find out what the task force is all about and, more important, when it meets.
“I was informed that they don't meet,” Gloria told CityBeat.
Indeed, out of the two dozen or so boards and commissions to which San Diego City Councilmembers are appointed, the City / County Joint Homeless Task Force is the only one with no other members and no actual plans to meet.
Formed in 2000 by then-City Councilmember Valerie Stallings, the group, which is supposed to include two City Council members and two members of the county Board of Supervisors, met twice that year—on April 4 and Oct. 27. Since state and federal dollars for homelessness services are funneled through the county, Stallings wanted some public discussions about the programs that money was funding.
The product of those two meetings is outlined in a Feb. 28, 2001, report to the City Council: Topics ranged from discussions about housing for homeless teens to Downtown San Diego's shrinking supply of single-room-occupancy hotels—often the only housing option for people on low fixed incomes. On March 5, 2001, the City Council passed a resolution saying, basically, that the meetings were productive and should continue. A copy of the resolution was sent to the Board of Supervisors.
But the task force never met again.
Toni Atkins, Gloria's predecessor, was appointed to the task force when she took office in 2001. Like Gloria, she tried to pin down when the group would meet. Like Gloria, she was told that it doesn't. Atkins said she asked then-Mayor Dick Murphy to keep the task force on the list of City Council appointments to keep open “a venue for participation.” The county, meanwhile, removed the task force from its list of groups needing appointments.
County Supervisor Ron Roberts, one of the original task force members (along with Supervisor Greg Cox), doesn't remember why the group never met again, but he said he doesn't see the task force as necessary—county staff brief City Council staff on homelessness-services programs and Roberts has met with Mayor Jerry Sanders on the issue.
“We don't do meetings for meetings' sake,” Roberts said, but he added that if there were an agenda, he'd show up.
City Councilmember Kevin Faulconer, meanwhile (who, along with Gloria was appointed to the task force last week), said communication with the county on homelessness issues “needs to be improved.” With the emphasis on building more permanent supportive housing (housing that includes social services) for chronically homeless people, “we're going to need to be talking to [the county] a lot,” Faulconer said.
Gloria and Faulconer said they'd use the City Council's Land Use and Housing Committee as a vehicle to discuss city / county collaboration on homelessness issues. But as for getting the task force up and meeting again, no one's sure who sets the agenda and calls the players to the table. Gloria said he's trying to find out—it would appear to be up to the mayor's office, he said. (A spokesperson for the mayor didn't respond to CityBeat's question about task-force oversight by press time.)