Recruiting bench-warmers to block transients

March 11, 2008 4:36:57 AM PDT
A community activist thinks a few couch potatoes, strategically placed on sidewalk benches in an upscale shopping district, will keep transients on their feet and on the move.

Esther Viti, who oversees the donation of public benches for a merchants' association in La Jolla, sent an e-mail to 45 other activists last week asking them to sit in three-hour shifts, no bathroom breaks allowed.

"After all, you MUST OCCUPY THAT BENCH continually for three hours to prevent that homeless person from sitting on that bench," the e-mail said.

Donors weren't happy that transients were sleeping on benches they had provided for the public, Viti said.

The group previously tried installing benches with metal dividers that split the seats. Transients simply began sleeping upright, said Deborah Marengo, president of Promote La Jolla.

No one has offered to sit a shift yet, Viti said. Some potential recruits expressed concern that the bench brigade could provoke retaliation from displaced transients.

In 2006, the Regional Task Force on Homeless estimated the homeless population at 9,600 countywide, which included 4,400 people within the city of San Diego.


Load Comments