I’ve lived in downtown San Diego for over a decade. I know the homeless population here, I’m on a name to name basis with many I pass day to day, I can spot out new homeless and the ones in and out of jail. These are people, all people, life put them in a bad place. I’m not here to argue semantics, but to talk about facts around costs which should lead to exploring alternatives.

On May 5th, 2020, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I travel to my empty office alone, which is in the heart of San Diego at the cross streets of 6th Ave and C Street. There is a trolley stop on 6th and C, so its often hopping with riff-raff. Today I rolled into work and there was quite a disturbance going on with many spectators.

At 8:50am PT a man, shirt off wearing newer skinny jeans maybe in his 40s, was screaming non-stop not paying any attention to anyone trying to help or the spectators, was trying to get bugs off himself. There were no bugs. I recognize this man and have seen him around for years. I figured this would pass… as it has in the past. This is not out of the ordinary for him.

Around 11:20am multiple police come… and a fire truck… and an ambulance. In total there are 6 police, 2 EMT, and 4 fire. 14 suited officials. The whole situation lasted an hour. Let’s evaluate the cost of this situation.

I’m going to find the average operation cost of each suited person, assume 1,872 hours a year (36 hour * 52 weeks) and divide the cost to get the hourly wage. Then times the suited officials by the hours wage. Disclaimer I’m uses the web and average-low San Diego rates, but I feel its still a good exercise.

Total Salary Cost: $338.4 (Police: $138.8 + Fire: $158 + EMT: $41.6 = $338.4 in salaries)

Hypothetical Operations Cost: $439.92 (We factor in a hypothetical operational cost of 30%!p(MISSING)er salary to cover healthcare, communications, gas, vehicles, etc.)

I assumed $439.92 is much less than the actual cost when dispatchers are factored in, and other things like cleaning sheets, beds, deployment of drugs, plastic gloves, masks, etc.

What can be done with that money? Housing or rehab? I don’t know, but it’s good to start thinking this way.

This man, who I recognized, was back on a corner one block away at 7th and C 6 hours later. I witness events like this often.