NBA legend Bill Walton blasts San Diego’s mayor for ‘doing nothing’ to clean up squalid homeless camps in the city – and says he’s been ‘threatened, chased and assaulted’
- Former Trail Blazer’s center Bill Walton has begged San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria to address the issue of homelessness in a series of emails to his office
- In one email, he claimed he was assaulted by some homeless residents while riding his bike through a public park
- He is now taking his frustrations to Instagram, where he has posted pictures of homeless camps and said he can no longer champion the city
- Though Walton, 69, never specifies what he wants the mayor to do, he mentioned a law that prohibits camps near schools and increased enforcement
- Gloria’s office has said it is aware of the issue but is limited by what it can do
Walton, 69, has begged Mayor Todd Gloria to address the issue of homelessness in a series of emails to his office over the past few weeks.
Though Walton never outlines exactly what he wants the mayor to do about the issue, the Voice of San Diego reports, he mentioned a law in Los Angeles that prohibits encampments near schools and repeatedly mentions law enforcement.
In one email, Walton had claimed he was assaulted by some homeless residents while riding his bike through a public park.
‘Once again, while peacefully riding my bike early Sunday morning in Balboa Park, I was threatened, chased and assaulted by the homeless population in our Park,’ he wrote on August 28.
‘Once again, you’ve done, and continue to do nothing.’
The former Trail Blazer’s center is now even taking his frustrations to Instagram, as nonprofits reveal that homelessness has skyrocketed in the city over the past few months to levels never seen before.
Former NBA player Bill Walton has railed against San Diego’s woke mayor, Todd Gloria, for failing to address the city’s growing homelessness crisis
Walton claimed in an email to the mayor last month that he was assaulted by a group of homeless residents when he was riding his bike through a park. He posted this picture of homeless people in the city earlier this week
Walton, 69, has even resorted to calling the mayor out on Instagram over the past few days
Walton’s first email to the woke mayor apparently came on August 24, when he wrote: ‘You peak of the rights of the [homeless], what about our rights?
‘We follow the rules of a functioning society, why are others allowed to disregard those rules?’
He continued to write that the mayor’s ‘lack of action is unacceptable, as is the conduct of the homeless population.’
Walton later sent the email about the attack while riding his bike, according to Voice of San Diego, before sending one final email on September 2 telling Gloria: ‘You have failed us and yourself.’
More recently, the sports broadcaster took to Instagram to air out his frustrations.
On Saturday, he shared a photo of homeless people camped out at a park, writing: ‘Will San Diego Mayor @ToddGloria please give us our park, our bike paths, our neighborhood, our community and our lives back?
‘The homeless situation is getting worse instead of better, and it costs more to keep people on the street than to get them off,’ he claimed.
‘We need consistent engagement, more bridge shelters, combined with more services and consistent enforcement, and we need it NOW.’
Then on Monday, Walton shared another photo of tents laid out on a swath of grass, writing: ‘Sadly, and with a broken heart, I can no longer say that my hometown of San Diego is the greatest place in the world.
‘I can no longer say that SD is a safe, healthy, clean and beautiful place; I can no longer urge my family, friends, tourists and businesses to come to SD to live, work and play.
‘I can no longer say that our neighborhood of the last 43 yeas is still my dream, I am brokenhearted.
‘Mayor @ToddGloria — clean up our city and let us reclaim our lives, we must fix our homeless crisis.
‘We need engagement, rehabilitation and constant enforcement, and we need it now.’
The comments mark a U-turn for the progressive former Trailblazers center, who is known to champion San Diego at different events
Walton shared this photo of a homeless camp to his Instagram on Monday
He wrote that he ‘can no longer say that my hometown of San Diego is the greatest place in the world’ and attract tourists and businesses to the city
The comments mark a sharp U-turn for Walton, a progressive who is known for championing San Diego at various events — and even supported Gloria when he first ran back in 2016.
But the homeless issue has exploded in the city since then, with the San Diego Downtown Partnership recently announcing that its monthly count of homeless residents reached an all-time high of more than 1,600 people in August.
At the same time, it reported, there were more than 450 encampments set up throughout the city.
The number of deaths among the homeless population has also skyrocketed in recent months, KUSI reported back in July.
Following that report, Gloria was caught on video ignoring dozens of homeless people while giving a speech to kick off Comic-Con on July 21.
Now, even homeless advocates are saying that the issue has spiraled out of control.
Speaking to the San Diego Union-Tribune, one advocate Michael McConnell said: ‘It’s unbelievable, it’s everywhere.
‘Now when I go to a store, I find myself giving drinks to homeless people in the parking lot who are just passing through,’ he explained.
‘And I’ve never run into this many new people. It’s every day.
He added that he thought the issue was because more people cannot afford a home with historic inflation rates and high housing costs.
The San Diego Downtown Partnership recently announcing that its monthly count of homeless residents reached an all-time high of more than 1,600 people in August
The organization also found that there were more than 450 encampments throughout the city
Gloria’s office has sad it is aware of the problem, and the vandalism and trash it creates, but is limited in what it can legally do
Gloria’s office said it is aware of the problem, but is limited in what it can do.
In a statement to Voice of San Diego, Rachel Liang, the director of communications for the mayor, said: ‘Bill’s frustration over our homelessness crisis is shared by people across our city, including the mayor himself, and in cities across the United States.’
She added that it is a difficult issue to combat, and has only become worse due to the COVID pandemic.
‘As Voice of San Diego has covered, people living on the streets since the pandemic seem to be in worse straits than ever, with more behavioral health and substance abuse issues than we’ve seen prior to the pandemic.’
‘In our efforts to address the neighborhood impacts of homelessness — particularly encampments and the trash and unsanitary conditions that result from them — our crews are finding an increase in hording behaviors and anti-social behavior, such as vandalism and unwillingness to put trash in nearby receptacles.’
Liang said, though, that the city does not have the right to clear all of the encampments.
Still, she said, city officials are doing everything they legally can do not only to clean up the camps, but to expand shelter and homeless services.
The city is now set to deploy a team of experts who would attend to the most disruptive people living on the streets to free up social workers who can help people find housing, Voice of San Diego reports.
And Gloria recently flew to San Jose to stand with California Governor Gavin Newsom as he signed into law a bill that would create CARE Courts, allowing first responders and family members to force people into treatment.
In a statement at the time, Gloria said: ‘Today marks the day that local governments, like the City and County of San Diego, stand united with the state to say we no longer turn a blind eye to Californians suffering from mental illness.
‘Rather, we will step up and guarantee services to those who need them.’