Homeless Helping Clean Parkway

Every little bit helps, but since the trash largely comes from the homeless illegally camping there—and the article from Channel 3 reports just how long some people have been camping there—it is very good that they are helping clean it up.

An excerpt.

“SACRAMENTO, Calif. —

“Mercy Pedalers hosted its first American River cleanup in Sacramento on Wednesday.

“Dozens of volunteers, along with those living in encampments on the parkway, filled a 40-yard garbage dumpster at Township 9 Park off Richards Boulevard.

“There are a couple thousand people on the streets of Sacramento,” said Mercy Pedalers founder Sister Libby Fernandez. “But they have no trash pickup, no bathrooms, no place to get clean water.”

“The group American River Homeless Crew assisted Mercy Pedalers. Founder Dan Aderholt has been cleaning the parkway for several years.

“We’re going around cleaning up the trash and put them up on the sidewalk here, but this side is county, this side is city,” Aderholt said. “And neither one wants to take the responsibility and pick up the trash on a regular basis. And that’s getting to be a problem.”

“Albert Murrah has been living along the river for seven years and helped clean up Wednesday.

“I live here, and I hate seeing trash like that,” Murrah said. “There’s always new groups coming in. Every six to eight months you’ll see 15 to 20 different people coming in, and when different people come in to the area, they don’t care what happens.”

Retrieved October 16, 2019 from https://www.kcra.com/article/homeless-mercy-pedalers-volunteers-clean-american-river-trash/29493779

 

Posted in Homelessness

ARPPS Annual Report Online

It is now online at http://www.arpps.org/annualreport.html and here is the introduction:

Introduction

This has been one of the worst years ever for the Parkway with the rampant proliferation of homeless encampments and the related problems this has caused; including fires, adjacent neighborhood crimes, polluted river water, levee weakening which could lead to flooding, as well as the continued crimes numerated in the monthly Sacramento County Parkway Ranger reports which can be accessed at https://regionalparks.saccounty.net/Rangers/Pages/Latest-Ranger-Activity-Data.aspx with just two data points from October 2018 to the August 2019 report (latest available at writing) being enough to justifiably shock us; total number during that time of Camps Cleared: 6,445 and of Garbage and debris removed: 1,358.5 tons.

This is why we refer to the lower part of the Parkway—from Discovery Park to Cal Expo—as Parkway Skid Row rather than the long-gone and once-deserved appellation, the “Jewel of Sacramento.”

One of the major contributing factors in the illegal camping in the Parkway by the homeless is the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill that took place over the past several decades.

This important article from The Balance regarding a new study provides context and history.

An excerpt.

“Deinstitutionalization is a government policy that moved mental health patients out of state-run “insane asylums” into federally funded community mental health centers. It began in the 1960s as a way to improve treatment of the mentally ill while also cutting government budgets.

“In 1955, the number peaked at 558,000 patients or 0.03 percent of the population. If the same percentage of the population were institutionalized today, that would be 750,000 mentally ill people. That’s more than the population of Baltimore or San Francisco.

“Effects

“Between 1955 and 1994, roughly 487,000 mentally ill patients were discharged from state hospitals. That lowered the number to only 72,000 patients. States closed most of their hospitals. That permanently reduced the availability of long-term, in-patient care facilities. By 2010, there were 43,000 psychiatric beds available. This equated to about 14 beds per 100,000 people. According to the Treatment Advocacy’s Center’s report, “Deinstitutionalization: A Failed History,” this was the same ratio as in 1850.

“As a result, 2.2 million of the severely mentally ill do not receive any psychiatric treatment at all. About 200,000 of those who suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder are homeless. That’s one-third of the total homeless population. Ten percent are veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or other war-related injuries.

“More than 300,000 are in jails and prisons. Sixteen percent of all inmates are severely mentally ill. There were about 100,000 psychiatric beds in both public and private hospitals. There are more than three times as many seriously mentally ill people in jails and prisons than in hospitals.

“Three Causes 

“Three societal and scientific changes occurred that caused deinstitutionalization. First, the development of psychiatric drugs treated many of the symptoms of mental illness. These included chlorpromazine and later clozapine.

“Second, society accepted that the mentally ill needed to be treated instead of locked away. This change of heart began in the 1960s.

“Third, federal funding such as Medicaid and Medicare went toward community mental health centers instead of mental hospitals.

“History

“1946 – Congress passed the National Mental Health Act. It created the National Institute of Mental Health in 1949. The Institute researched ways to treat mental health in the community.

“1954 – The Food and Drug Administration approved Thorazine, known generically as chlorpromazine, to treat psychotic episodes. The only other treatments available at the time were electroshock therapy and lobotomies. There were only 7,000 psychiatrists, 13,500 psychologists, and 20,000 social workers in the entire country.

“1955 – The number of patients in public mental health hospitals reached a record of 558,000. They suffered from schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and severe depression. Many had organic brain diseases such as dementia and brain damage from trauma. Others suffered from mental retardation combined with psychosis, autism, or brain damage from drug addiction. Most patients were not expected to get better given the treatments at the time. Congress passed the Mental Health Study Act of 1955. It established the Joint Commission on Mental Illness and Health to evaluate the nation’s mental health situation.

“1961 – The commission published its findings in Action for Mental Health. It recommended that community health centers be set up to treat those with less severe mental illnesses. The American Psychological Association’s paper, “Recognition and Prevention of Major Mental and Substance Use Disorders,” said the commission’s research estimated that 20 percent of the population suffered from some form of mental illness and distress. It focused on treating these disorders to prevent them from becoming more severe.

“1962 – Ken Kesey published “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was a fictional story about abuses in a mental hospital. The author dramatized his experiences as a nurse’s aide in the psychiatric wing of a California veteran’s hospital. The book helped turn public opinion against electroshock therapy and lobotomies. These were procedures commonly used at the time.

“1963 – President John F. Kennedy signed the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act. It provided federal funding to create community-based mental health facilities. They would provide prevention, early treatment, and ongoing care. The goal was to build one for every 125,000 to 250,000 people. That many centers would allow patients to remain close to their families and be integrated into society. But it ignored statistics that showed 75 percent of those in hospitals had no families.

“1965 – President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments of 1965. It created Medicaid to fund health care for low-income families. It did not pay for care in mental hospitals. As a result, states transferred those patients into nursing homes and hospitals to receive federal funding.

“1967 – California’s Governor Ronald Reagan signed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act. It limited a family’s right to commit a mentally ill relative without the right to due process. It also reduced the state’s institutional expense. That doubled the number of mentally ill people in California’s criminal justice system the following year. It also increased the number treated by hospital emergency rooms. Medicaid covered those costs. Other states followed with similar involuntary commitment laws.

“1975 – The film, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” hit theaters. Jack Nicholson’s Oscar-winning portrayal of a mistreated patient further turned public opinion against mental hospitals.

“1977 – Only 650 community health centers had been built. That was less than half of what was needed. They served 1.9 million patients. They were designed to help those with less severe mental health disorders. As states closed hospitals, the centers became overwhelmed with those patients with more serious challenges.

“1980 – President Jimmy Carter signed the Mental Health Systems Act to fund more community health centers. But it focused on a broad range of a community’s mental health needs. That lessened the federal government’s focus on meeting the needs those with chronic mental illness.

“1981 – President Reagan repealed the Act through the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981. It shifted funding to the state through block grants. The grant process meant that community mental health centers competed with other public needs. Programs like housing, food banks, and economic development often won the federal funds instead.

“1990 – The Food and Drug Administration approved clozapine to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia. That strengthened the prejudice against hospitalization of the mentally ill.

“2004 – Studies suggest approximately 16 percent of prison and jail inmates or roughly 320,000 people were seriously mentally ill. That year, there were about 100,000 psychiatric beds in public and private hospitals. In other words, three times as many mentally ill people were in jail than in a hospital.

“2009 – The Great Recession forced states to cut $4.35 billion in mental health spending in three years.

“2010 – The Affordable Care Act mandated that insurance companies must cover mental health care as one of the 10 essential benefits. That included treatment for alcohol, drug, and other substance abuse and addiction. Patient co-pays could be as high as $40 a session. The number of therapist visits could be limited.”

Retrieved October 11, 2019 from https://www.thebalance.com/deinstitutionalization-3306067

All of that notwithstanding, we will continue our work of advocating for common sense solutions for the homeless issue with our particular focus on the Parkway.

In our area, a strategy helping the homeless (and local residents and business who suffer the impacts) needs to be developed that is capable of safely sheltering up to 2 or 3 thousand homeless folks a night safely distant from residential neighborhoods and business—with available transformational services—and San Antonio’s Haven for Hope program, especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers, seems to offer an answer, which you can read about from their brochure at

http://www.havenforhope.org/downloads/docs/H4H%20Brochure%2010-31-2016.pdf   and you can read more about Haven for Hope applicability in our area from our news release of October 26, 2018 on our News Page at http://arpps.org/news.html

Posted in ARPPS, Homelessness

Floating Fiberglass Ocean Islands?

This invention, profiled in Business Insider, has interesting possibilities.

An excerpt.

A tiny fiberglass island is bobbing up and down in the San Francisco Bay right now.

From far away, it looks like a beluga whale poking through the water. Up close, it looks like a misshapen raft. In reality, it’s a buoyant structure known as the “Float Lab,” which is designed to foster a floating ecosystem.

The prototype was deployed in August by a team of designers at the California College of the Arts (CCA)’s Architectural Ecologies Lab. Their goal is to see if animals will attach to the island, thus expanding its size and creating a buffer against ocean currents. An entire network of islands, they predict, could help calm the bay’s choppy waters and prevent future floods from ravaging the coast.

If the structure holds up, it could even provide a model for floating cities — a design concept that’s supported by the United Nations as a way to address rising sea levels.

The designers — Adam Marcus, the director of the Architectural Ecologies Lab, and two colleagues, Evan Jones and Margaret Ikeda — tested around two dozen prototypes before launching the final version.

From 2014 to 2018, they installed fiberglass plates underwater in both the Monterey and San Francisco Bays. The plates were around 24 inches long and 24 inches wide.

“They started to perform very well as upside down habitats for animals,” Marcus told Business Insider.

A Bay Area fabrication company named Kreysler & Associates helped build the structure, using robots to carve the mold. Workers then covered the surface with fiberglass by hand.

“Animals love attaching themselves to hard surfaces,” Marcus said.

The process in which marine creatures latch onto boats is known as “fouling,” and it’s often viewed negatively by sailors, since it can damage boats or cause them to slow down. But Marcus’ team thinks fouling could be used to humans’ benefit: If enough animals attach to a floating structure, he said, they might reduce the force of waves against the shore.

Retrieved October 14, 2019 from https://www.businessinsider.com/floating-city-prototype-san-francisco-bay-2019-10#the-team-hopes-that-animals-will-attach-themselves-to-the-island-creating-a-mini-ecosystem-3

 

Posted in Environmentalism, Technology

Ocean Clean Up News

It appears the Great Ocean Garbage Patch clean up invention is finally working, very good news from CNN.

An excerpt.

“A huge trash-collecting system designed to clean up plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean is finally picking up plastic, its inventor announced Wednesday.

“The Netherlands-based nonprofit the Ocean Cleanup says its latest prototype was able to capture and hold debris ranging in size from huge, abandoned fishing gear, known as “ghost nets,” to tiny microplastics as small as 1 millimeter.

“Today, I am very proud to share with you that we are now catching plastics,” Ocean Cleanup founder and CEO Boyan Slat said at a news conference in Rotterdam.

“The Ocean Cleanup system is a U-shaped barrier with a net-like skirt that hangs below the surface of the water. It moves with the current and collects faster moving plastics as they float by. Fish and other animals will be able to swim beneath it.

“The new prototype added a parachute anchor to slow the system and increased the size of a cork line on top of the skirt to keep the plastic from washing over it.”

Retrieved October 12, 2019 from https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/02/tech/ocean-cleanup-catching-plastic-scn-trnd/index.html

Posted in Environmentalism

San Francisco’s Response to Homelessness like Sacramento’s?

Of course it is; Sacramento shares, at the very least, the part about the lack of funding and housing being the main cause of homelessness’ increase—while seemingly forgetting the cause of drug addiction and mental health issues—and the majority of funding going to government entities or established homelessness advocacy nonprofits who have already proven to be failures in actually reducing homelessness; in this excellent article from City Journal.

An excerpt.

“San Francisco’s radical Left has a peculiar partner in Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff. As a backer of Proposition C, he joined the Coalition on Homelessness to strong-arm high-revenue businesses into supporting bloated city government departments to address the city’s homeless problem. Companies earning gross receipts over $50 million now pay an additional tax on the excess, with rates ranging from 0.175 percent to 0.69 percent. It will garner the city between $250 and $300 million, doubling its current budget for homeless services to half a billion dollars annually.

“Prop C, dubbed the “Our City, Our Home Fund,” passed in November of 2018 with 61 percent of the vote. Since then it’s been hotly contested. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has sued the city. “Approval for special taxes needs a two-thirds majority, so it’s now in the appeals process,” says senior staff attorney Laura Dougherty. “We need the clarity of the California Supreme court.” Meantime, the tax revenue is being collected, but the city is holding the funds until it gets the nod to spend them.

“If you believe that lack of funding is the cause of San Francisco’s homelessness problem, then the measure is a great idea. Fifty percent of the funding would go toward housing, 25 percent to mental health and addiction programs, 15 percent to people who are at risk of becoming homeless or have recently become so, and 10 percent to short-term “residential shelters and hygiene programs.”

It won’t help. The plan is wildly expensive. After administrative costs are skimmed from the top, the remainder will be distributed among the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Homelessness and Supportive Housing, and the Department of Public Health. Combined, these agencies employ hundreds of government workers, whose average compensation (salary and benefits) is $175,004. The city will then parcel out the rest to dozens of non-profit agencies, each with its own set of directors and employees. Just how much is left for those they purportedly serve remains to be seen, but chances are it won’t be enough.

“The homelessness crisis in San Francisco is unquestionably dire. Recent numbers indicate a 30 percent jump in people living on the streets since 2017, and the official count is roughly 9,780. Whatever the city has been doing with its $250 million annual budget has been unsuccessful, doubtless because it is focusing on the symptom, not the illness. Despite what homeless activists may claim or what self-reported data indicate, the majority of the homeless are there because they have a substance addiction or suffer psychological troubles (and very often both), not because they’re down on their luck. “In San Francisco, 95 percent are using drugs,” says Thomas Wolf, who was once a homeless heroin user and is now a case manager for the Salvation Army, working with homeless veterans. “Everyone I came across on the street had a substance abuse problem. The statistics are wrong, so they’re basing their programs on false numbers.”

“Though the new plan outlines “innovative” ideas, it offers no guarantee that it will lift people out of squalor and ensure that they receive necessary treatment and services. Once the money is released and programs enacted, will public sidewalks, parks, and alleys be clear of human waste, narcotic activity, and people having psychotic episodes? Will tents disappear and violent encounters abate? The plan doesn’t offer much confidence. In fact, the Department of Public Health recently came under fire for leaving dozens of desperately needed psychiatric beds open because they couldn’t resolve staffing issues. Financial waste and bungling within San Francisco’s city departments has been constant, and there is no indication it will change. The proposed seven-person oversight committee will include only one member with accounting experience. The rest will be a hodgepodge of individuals appointed by the mayor and board of supervisors, who come from the same city departments and nonprofits that have failed to ease the problem and in fact have made it worse.

“The Coalition on Homelessness, which aggressively lobbied for the plan, opposes any intervention in homeless issues unless it will “provide housing and services.” Any police response to resident complaints about encampments, open drug use, or threatening behavior is denounced as “criminalization.” Coalition members attend meetings, protest so-called sweeps (cleaning out encampments), and verbally abuse anyone who doesn’t want massive shelters that function as havens for drug use and criminal activity to be built next to their residences.

“If Benioff wants to be a hero, it is within his substantial means to achieve something that few others can afford—and which San Franciscans at large would embrace. He could assemble like-minded billionaires, tech giants, and other successful businesses, encourage their buy-in, and create a private organization dedicated to direct homeless services. They might open accessible and enticing substance-abuse and psychological-counseling centers that offer skills training, jobs, and even residences, such as those created in Colorado. The group could work with police, residents, and merchants instead of against them.”

Retrieved October 11, 2019 from https://www.city-journal.org/san-francisco-homelessness-marc-benioff

Posted in Uncategorized

Power Blackouts

Sadly, this is affecting so many people, story from the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

“Californians woke up Thursday to a second straight day of rolling blackouts as PG&E Corp. cut power to hundreds of thousands of households and businesses in the Bay Area and elsewhere overnight.

“PG&E said around 11 p.m. Wednesday it had begun the second phase of an unprecedented power shutdown meant to avert the type of deadly infernos that killed dozens last year and propelled the utility into bankruptcy court.

“The utility said 234,000 customers would be affected during this new phase of blackouts that began Wednesday afternoon, including those living in cities such as San Jose, Oakland and Berkeley.

“That brings the total number of households and businesses affected to more than 700,000, as the utility had already cut power to about 513,000 customers in Northern California, including in wine country where wildfires raged in 2017.

“With multiple people in many households, millions are likely being affected by the blackouts.

“PG&E said it had restored power to about 50,000 customers in the Sierra Foothills, but is still considering further shut-offs for Kern County that may hit up to 4,000 customers.

“Firefighters in Moraga, a quiet Bay Area town hit by the blackout, battled a wildfire overnight that was swept along by strong winds. By the morning, the fire was 70% contained, though 40 homes were still under an evacuation order, the fire department said. There were no injuries, and no houses were burned, the department said.

“Thirty-two thousand households and businesses had no power Thursday morning in Alameda County, which includes Oakland and Berkeley, said Michael Hunt, chief of staff of the Oakland Fire Department.

“It’s all hands on deck trying to prevent wildfires and keep people traveling on roadways safely,” said Mr. Hunt. He said that the threat of wildfires remains serious with a high-wind advisory still in effect.

“Crews have been busy putting up signs to turn intersections with traffic lights into four-way stops, Mr. Hunt said. Yesterday, several car accidents were reported in Northern California after traffic signals went out.

“Originally, PG&E had warned Bay Area residents that power would be shut down at noon on Wednesday, but amid great confusion, it didn’t occur until last night.

In the Oakland hills, where a firestorm in 1991 killed 25 and destroyed thousands of homes, residents worry about fires but are also skeptical of the power company.

“David Bruck, a 67-year-old commercial property manager, had to evacuate his home during the 1991 fire.

“Given that experience and being here for the fires in Napa and Santa Rosa, I am for anything we can do to prevent that,” said Mr. Bruck. “But it’s hard to have a lot of faith in PG&E these days.”

Retrieved October 10, 2019 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-power-outage-rolls-into-second-day-millions-without-electricity-11570718584?mod=hp_lead_pos8

Posted in Environmentalism

Multiple Fires in Parkway Skid Row

As the Sacramento Bee is reporting this morning.

“Fire crews are responding to grass fires in the lower American River Parkway on Wednesday morning.

“Several fire engines are responding to multiple spot fires on the south side of the American River, first reported at 8:13 a.m., the Sacramento Fire Department said in a tweet about 8:4 5 a.m.”

Retrieved October 9, 2019 from https://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article235952647.html

Posted in Parkway Fires, Uncategorized