ECA Newsletter 8-22-18
Mr. Politically Incorrect
For anybody who has regularly visited the ECA office recently, the transformation of a business park has been dramatic over the past few months. Since this is a “soapbox” and I write opinions, I feel inclined to do so about this situation.
We are not alone. Drive down to Jack London Square in Oakland and you pass under an elevated freeway that has become the “roof” for hundreds, if not thousands, of people camping in various ways. Some sleep with no tent, some sleep in cars, some sleep in RV’s that do not look like they have been “roadworthy” since the early Cheech and Chong movies. Los Angeles has homeless that live on median strips, offramps and onramps. Go to Sacramento and the aggressiveness of the homeless asking for a handout will make even the staunchest amongst us question our safety at stop lights as homeless guys bang on your window and roof and DEMAND a handout.
The obvious response, and for me, a repeated refrain, has been that “I am sympathetic to those that are homeless by circumstance, but if someone is homeless by choice, no sympathy!”
Now that the homeless encampment has arrived right at our front door on Apollo Way, I have a somewhat different attitude. These people do not want to be in shelters because shelters have rules. And the rules these folks do not want to abide by, is that they cannot do drugs or drink if they are housed in shelters. Oh, you will hear lots of other stories-I just read one in the Press Democrat about a woman that has a sleep disorder and she does not want to disturb other sleepers in the shelter so that is why she does not go to the shelter. What? Come on. I am calling her bluff. She is concerned about other sleepers in a shelter, yet she has no problem being concerned about folks working in a business park having to deal with garbage, feces and needles all over the place? What horsecrap!
So, what is the answer? The answer is that these folks have some smart people supporting them and those smart people know how to play the system. Ask these “campers” what they want, and they will invariably tell you they just want a safe place to camp where nobody bothers them. I say that is only true if we taxpayers foot the bill to also furnish these folks with infrastructure that enables them to wash themselves, flush toilets, and have regular garbage pickup (and by the way, the garbage pickup must include going around picking up all their crap they are too lazy to put into a trash can themselves!). As you can probably tell, I am not as sympathetic to these folks as I once was. When I drive down the street in front of our ECA office now and stare at a mess, I get yelled at “what are you looking at? This is our home!” When did a public street become somebody’s home?
So here we have a huge problem. Here is John’s Politically Incorrect Solutions:
- Give them an opportunity to clean up, sober up, and find some work that makes them a productive member of the community. For that, they get a place to stay-nothing fancy, 200sf apartment, and they get to stay there as long as they do their work, they get to come and go as they please, and they have to adhere to being clean from drugs and abide by the rules of the property. If they can’t do that, they get booted out. This will entail a massive infusion of mental health and physical health workers to assist these folks in getting cleaned up. Where does that money come from? From the companies that are making the opiates these folks are hooked on. Pass a tax on oxy and other abused drugs. It cannot be that hard to figure out if one pharmacy in a town of 5,000 people is selling 50,000 pills a week, that the pills are not being dispensed properly. Book ’em Dano!
- If they choose the street or try the housing and get booted out, God help them. Now you have another housing system built, but it is behind fences and their ability to come and go is not by their choice. It is called a jail compound.
- Make it illegal to panhandle. Make it a crime to give them money and make it a crime to stand on a corner and ask for money. And enforce it. They get caught, they do a week in the #2 jail listed above. When they get out, they are offered a choice of doing #1 above, and if they can, they get a chance. If they cannot, they go right back onto the streets.
- Enforce no camping in public parks, on public streets, and enforce trespassing laws if they try to make camp on private property.
Is that politically incorrect enough for you? Well I am known as Mr. Politically Incorrect for a reason—
That’s All Folks!