NBA Legend Bill Walton Calls Out San Diego Mayor for Homelessness Crisis

by Blake Ells

NBA Hall of Famer Bill Walton sent a heated email to San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria. The email was a complaint about the homelessness crisis in the city he calls home. There are more than 1,600 homeless residents in San Diego.

The Voice of San Diego reported that the email exchange began in August.

“Once again, while peacefully riding my bike early this Sunday morning in Balboa Park, I was threatened, chased, and assaulted by the homeless population, in our Park,” he wrote. “Once again, you’ve done and continue to do, nothing.”

“You have failed, us and yourself,” he wrote to the mayor on September 2.

Bill Walton has long been a resident of San Diego. And he’s championed a lot of causes for the city. He’s generally been a supporter of Mayor Gloria, a Democrat. He recently held a fundraiser for Councilwoman Jen Campbell. Bill Walton asked her then to address the homelessness crisis in the city. He once considered running for mayor himself.

“You speak of the rights of the homes, what about our rights?” he wrote on August 24. “What about our rights? We follow the rules of a functioning society. Why are others allowed to disregard those rules? Your lack of action is unacceptable. As is the conduct of the homeless population.”

Mayor’s Staff Responds to Bill Walton

“Bill’s frustration over our homelessness crisis is shared by people across our city,” he told the paper. “Including the mayor himself, and in cities across the United States.” The message was delivered by Rachel Laing, the mayor’s director of communications.

It’s a delicate situation that was worsened by the pandemic.

“As Voice of San Diego has covered, people living on the streets since the pandemic seem to be in worse straits than ever,” she continued. “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 hoarding behaviors and anti-social behavior such as vandalism and unwillingness to put trash in available nearby receptacles.”

The mayor before Gloria, Kevin Faulconer, watched homelessness rise during the pandemic. He pledged to work to fix the growing crisis, but with little success. The newspaper opines that Gloria likely ran a campaign on fixing the crisis, and Walton believes that he has not delivered on that promise. The growing problem seems to be the top priority for most voters in the California city. There’s also an ongoing homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, too. It is also likely to be a priority for voters in election season. Members of the city council have told the paper that the problem can no longer be tolerated.