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Bill Walton isn’t just talking about the homeless problem in San Diego and across America like government and city leaders are. The basketball Hall of Famer has actually come up with a solution, which entails relocating the homeless population to a place he calls Sunbreak Ranch.
Walton, who has lived in the same San Diego neighborhood for nearly 45 years, is sick of seeing his beloved city overrun by the homeless. He experienced the issue first-hand late last year when he was assaulted by the homeless population while riding his bike in a local park.
Instead of deciding not to bike in the area or turning a blind eye to the matter, Walton’s experience sprung him into action and sparked the idea of the 2,000-acre homeless town of Sunbreak Ranch.
The proposed Sunbreak Ranch would be located in an empty plot of land east of Interstate 15 on Marine Corps Air Station Miramar just 12 miles from downtown San Diego.
Walton envisions a place with portable toilets and portable showers, mess halls, medical tents, storage facilities and onsite service providers including dedicated teams of mental health professionals, substance abuse rehabilitation specialists, and vocational trainers. People can either live in a community tent or camp alone in protected areas.
Bill Walton’s Vision For Sunbreak Ranch
The big questions here are what will this cost and who will pay for it?
In his co-authored op-ed in the Times of San Diego, Walton calls on the federal government to partner with the city to launch Sunbreak Ranch and writes about three key factors.
1. We need our President and federal government to lease 2,000 acres of MCAS Miramar land to Sunbreak Ranch at $1 per year, and to designate this land as a temporary “federal emergency homeless help zone.” This will eliminate local red tape and opposition.
2. We need our President to deploy the military and security services to build a tent city for Sunbreak Ranch on this site with surplus equipment from the Afghan and Iraq deployments. Our military and security services have the manpower, expertise, and equipment to build out this entire tent city within weeks.
3. The cost of this Sunbreak experiment is minimal compared to the untold tens of billions of dollars currently being spent (to no avail) on homelessness annually.
Walton also calls for “significant individual philanthropists or organizations” to seed-fund the three-year initiation with up to $275 million.
“The successful implementation of Sunbreak Ranch will save hundreds of thousands of lives, alleviate widespread suffering, unlock unfathomable human potential, and clean up America’s cities for all of us,” Walton writes.
The 70-year-old isn’t only envisioning this sort of homeless outpost for San Diego, he believes that when Sunbreak Ranch succeeds then the federal government will fund similar ranches outside of every major U.S. metropolitan city.
“The potential upside here is beyond comparison to any other issue facing America.”
“Sunbreak is a unique program where everyone wins. A “clean, healthy, safe and secure environment” will be provided for those who desperately need it; our homeless brothers and sisters will have the opportunity to turn their lives around; and our cities will be returned to civilized normalcy,” Walton explains.
If money weren’t an object, the idea for Sunbreak Ranch sounds great. Unfortunately, money is an object, and the odds of this ranch coming to fruition are about the same as Joe Biden remembering how to leave a stage: slim to none.
The homeless problem in major U.S. cities, specifically out on the West Coast, will only worsen from here on out. Elected officials are taking zero action towards the issue pawning responsibilities off to others and locals voting for the same ‘leaders’ of the same political party thinking maybe this person will take things seriously.
Credit to Walton, however. Nobody else in San Diego appears to be offering any sort of ideas on how to deal with the homeless crisis in the area. Hopefully, he continues to push the idea forward, it’ll undoubtedly fall on deaf ears, but at least he’s trying.
Follow Mark Harris on Twitter @ItIsMarkHarris