Help With Illegal Campers

Too bad it had to come to this, but thankful for the railroad’s help, as this story from the Sacramento Bee reports.

An excerpt.

Trains along the popular Capitol Corridor are running later than before, and homeless camps are partly to blame.

Rail officials say more people have trespassed on train tracks in the last year, forcing engineers at times to hit the brakes to avoid a possible crash – and at times tragically unable to. That’s left trains loaded with commuters or freight grinding to a halt in the middle of nowhere.

Capitol Corridor board chair Lucas Frerichs said the issue is foremost about human safety. But, it’s also a business problem.

“Frankly, we have a business to run, a service to the public. If people can’t depend on the train being on time, they will choose other options,” he said.

His train system, which connects the capital city and Silicon Valley, has seen its on-time record dip dramatically in the last year. Fifteen percent of trains were late arriving to their destination stations last month.

The reasons aren’t limited to trespassing. Agency officials say the rail line’s problems with track signals, bridge closures and mechanical issues have been higher than usual. The number of vehicle strikes at street crossings has tilted up as well.

Trespassers, though, represent an unnerving wild card, rail officials say.

Train engineers frequently see people walking along rail lines in Sacramento and the Bay Area, Capitol Corridor head David Kutrosky said.

“It’s unfortunately becoming more common,” Kutrosky said.

That’s prompted several rail agencies locally to launch crackdowns, including a joint effort starting this month between the Capitol Corridor and Union Pacific freight rail company, which owns the tracks used by many passenger services in California.

The problem has become significant enough that Kutrosky sent an email last week to passengers asking them to report any encampments or large piles of trash they notice along the tracks while on their train ride.

He said he and his crews have seen camps in secluded and wooded areas recently in Sacramento, West Sacramento and Davis in the capital region, and Suisun City, Hercules, Berkeley, Oakland and Fremont in the Bay Area.

Capitol Corridor officials did not provide crash numbers requested by The Bee, as of Friday. But a spokesman for the Union Pacific said three people were hit by trains between Sacramento and the Bay Area.

If a person is killed by a train, it may be held in place for two to three hours as coroners, police and track inspectors do post-mortem work, officials said. That creates a domino effect, slowing passenger and freight trains from Sacramento to San Jose.

But near misses are a problem as well, Kutrosky said. If a person is on the tracks or it appears like they may step onto the rails, “an engineer will turn all the brakes at once and go into emergency braking applications.” Once a train stops, he said, “it takes 10 minutes to reset the engine,” he said.

Other rail agencies around Sacramento report similar issues, as homeless numbers in the capital region and elsewhere rise.

A count last July in Sacramento County found 3,665 people living without permanent shelter, a 30 percent increase from the number counted in 2015.

Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs said homeless camps are not a new issue, but the problem is getting more attention. “It has become a more highlighted issue throughout the state. Sacramento and San Jose, those are the key spots here.”

A spokeswoman for Sacramento Regional Transit, which operates light-rail trains, said her agency is spending more time and resources in the last few years patrolling its tracks and closing down homeless encampments.

That included breaking up a large camp near tracks a few weeks ago at Arcade Creek and Roseville Road in the North Sacramento area where the creek passes under the Union Pacific, Amtrak and Sacramento Regional Transit rail lines.

Retrieved April 15, 2018 from http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article208599289.html

Posted in Homelessness, Public Safety

Science or Politics?

A good look at the question, from City Journal.

An excerpt.

Imagine if the head of a federal agency announced a new policy for its scientific research: from now on, the agency would no longer allow its studies to be reviewed and challenged by independent scientists, and its researchers would not share the data on which their conclusions were based. The response from scientists and journalists would be outrage. By refusing peer review from outsiders, the agency would be rejecting a fundamental scientific tradition. By not sharing data with other researchers, it would be violating a standard transparency requirement at leading scientific journals. If a Republican official did such a thing, you’d expect to hear denunciations of this latest offensive in the “Republican war on science.”

That’s the accusation being hurled at Scott Pruitt, the Republican who heads the Environmental Protection Agency. But Pruitt hasn’t done anything to discourage peer review. In fact, he’s done the opposite: he has called for the use of more independent experts to review the EPA’s research and has just announced that the agency would rely only on studies for which data are available to be shared. Yet Democratic officials and liberal journalists have denounced these moves as an “attack on science,” and Democrats have cited them (along with accusations of ethical violations) in their campaign to force Pruitt out of his job.

How could “the party of science,” as Democrats like to call themselves, be opposed to transparency and peer review? Because better scientific oversight would make it tougher for the EPA to justify its costly regulations. To environmentalists, rigorous scientific protocols are fine in theory, but not in practice if they interfere with the green political agenda. As usual, the real war on science is the one waged from the left.

The EPA has been plagued by politicized science since its inception in 1970. One of its first tasks was to evaluate the claim, popularized in Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, that the use of DDT pesticide was causing an epidemic of cancer. The agency held extensive hearings that led to the conclusion that DDT was not a carcinogen, a finding that subsequent research would confirm. Yet the EPA administrator, William Ruckelshaus, reportedly never even bothered to read the scientific testimony. Ignoring the thousands of pages of evidence, he declared DDT a potential carcinogen and banned most uses of it.

Since then, the agency has repeatedly been criticized for relying on weak or cherry-picked evidence to promote needless alarms justifying the expansion of its authority (and budget). Its warnings about BPA, a chemical used in plastics, were called unscientific by leading researchers in the field. Its conclusion that secondhand smoke was killing thousands of people annually was ruled by a judge to be in violation of “scientific procedure and norms”—and was firmly debunked by later research.

To justify the costs of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan restricting coal-burning power plants, the EPA relied on a controversial claim that a particular form of air pollution (from small particulates) was responsible for large numbers of premature deaths. To reach that conclusion, the agency ignored contradictory evidence and chose to rely on 1990s research whose methodology and conclusions were open to question.

The EPA’s advisory committee on air pollution, a group of outside scientists, was sufficiently concerned at the time to ask to see the supporting data. But the researchers and the EPA refused to share the data, citing the confidentiality of the medical records involved, and they have continued refusing demands from Congress and other researchers to share it, as Steve Milloy recounts in his book, Scare Pollution: Why and How to Fix the EPA.

Pruitt’s new policy will force the EPA to rely on studies for which data is available to other researchers, ensuring the transparency that enables findings to be tested and confirmed. So why is he being attacked? His critics argue that some worthwhile research will be ignored because it is based on confidential records that are impractical to share. They say that it would cost the EPA several hundred million dollars to redact personal medical information in the air-pollution studies used to justify the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. But even if that estimate is correct—it seems awfully high—it’s a pittance compared with the costs of the EPA’s regulations. The Obama EPA estimated the annual cost of its Clean Power Plan at $8 billion; others estimated it at more than $30 billion. Before saddling utility customers with those higher bills year after year, the EPA could at least pay for reliable research.

Retrieved April 12, 2018 from https://www.city-journal.org/html/scott-pruitt-warrior-science-15821.html

Posted in Environmentalism, Politics

Homeless Housed in Back Yard?

When you read something like this, it really focuses on the mind-set of all too many politicians.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Bee article.

Not in my backyard” protests helped block homeless housing in Temple City, delayed it in Boyle Heights and, last month, killed Orange County’s plan to relocate homeless people to shelters.

Now, Los Angeles officials want to turn NIMBYism on its head — by paying property owners to put houses for homeless people in their backyards.

In August, the county Board of Supervisors approved a $550,000 pilot program to build a few small backyard houses, or upgrade illegally converted garages, for homeowners who agree to host a homeless person or family. Then, in February, Bloomberg Philanthropies awarded L.A. a $100,000 grant to study the feasibility of backyard homeless units within the city limits.

Rents under the county’s pilot program would be covered by low-income vouchers, with tenants contributing 30 percent of their incomes. The county is also sponsoring a design competition, streamlining permits and providing technical aid and financing options.

Retrieved April 12, 2018 from http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/article208664689.html

 

Posted in Homelessness

Common Sense on Water Storage

It is represented in this Dan Walter’s column in the Sacramento Bee but hasn’t been exhibited by California leadership for decades, but hope springs eternal, does it not?

An excerpt from the Bee article.

The first thing to remember about precipitation in California is that it’s unpredictable, as the past several winters have once again shown us.

Several years of severe drought ended in the 2016-17 winter with near-record rain and snow storms that filled the state’s badly depleted reservoirs.

The 2017-18 “water year,” as hydrologists call it, began with what seemed to be a return to drought but then, in March, the state experienced a steady stream of storms that added to the Sierra snowpack upon which Californians are so dependent.

It may not have been a “March Miracle” on the scale of 1991, when the mountains were virtually bereft of snow until one month of heavy storms ended the deficit. But what happened last month was at least a minor miracle, increasing the snowpack to more than 50 percent of average.

Combined with leftover storage from the previous year, California will enter the warmer months, when precipitation is rare, with fairly healthy water reserves.

Not only have the past several years demonstrated anew that “normal” is alternating periods of wet and dry, they also underscore just how dependent California is on its massive array of reservoirs, canals and other waterworks.

It collects water during the wet periods, as it did in 2016-17, and releases its reserves to maintain human life, wildlife and economy when conditions turn dry. Life as 39 million Californians know it would be impossible were it not for the state’s water system that federal, state and local governments maintain.

The state’s hydrologists believe that climate change will have a massive effect on our water supply in future decades, perhaps making the peaks and valleys of precipitation steeper and deeper and likely making more of it rain and less of it snow.

If, indeed, we will be getting more rain and less snow, it will degrade the snowpack as the state’s largest and most important reservoir. And that means we need to replace the snowpack with more man-made storage, allowing us to capture more winter rains that otherwise would flow to the ocean.

The need for more storage has been evident for decades, and although Southern California’s water agencies, particularly the Metropolitan Water District, have been diligent about adding it, Northern California, where most of the rain falls, has been negligent.

The last state water bond issue contained several billion dollars to jumpstart planning for new storage projects, particularly the off stream Sites reservoir on the west side of the upper Sacramento Valley and the Temperance Flat project on the San Joaquin River.

Together, they would add just over 3 million acre-feet of storage, or almost the equivalent of a new Lake Oroville.

However, state water officials have been somewhat lackadaisical about moving these projects along for reasons best known to themselves.

Retrieved April 8, 2018 from http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article208100964.html

Posted in Government, Shasta Auburn Dam, Water

ARPPS Newsletter, Spring 2018, Two Rivers Trail

American River Parkway Preservation Society Newsletter:

Issue 58 – Spring 2018

________________________________________________________

Contents

Announcement:   Article about ARPPS                                                                  Page 1

Essay: Two Rivers Trail                                                                                                Page 1

Society Information:                                                                                              Page 6

________________________________________________________

Announcement: Article about ARPPS

Inside Publications published an interview with me about ARPPS on page 22 of the March Issue, available at http://www.insidepublications.com/digital/portfolio/inside-arden/ and the photo accompanying the article was taken on the levee in River Park overlooking the Parkway where the Two Rivers Trail would go.

__________________________________

Essay: Two Rivers Trail

This project, which is described on the Sacramento City website at http://www.cityofsacramento.org/Public-Works/Engineering-Services/Projects/Current-Projects/Two-Rivers-Trail-Phase-II has generated some controversy with many residents of the adjacent neighborhood, River Park, in opposition to it as evidenced by their signs around the neighborhood, Save Don’t Pave and their website https://savedontpave.wordpress.com/ .

Our organization has commented in support of this project over 10 years ago, in Parkway Blog Posts in 2006 and 2007:

This story from today’s Bee is a wonderful example of the strengthening of the American River Parkway, key to our mission, by the Sacramento City Council moving forward on the long planned Two Rivers Trail, on the south side of the American River between Interstate 5 and Highway 160.

Anytime we are able to see the existing Parkway expanded, either through adding additional land or connecting to other open space or trails, it is a huge plus for area recreation, and though there is still work to be done, it is great to see it continued.

Retrieved March 27, 2018 from https://riverparkwayblog.wordpress.com/2006/04/27/two-rivers-trail-moves-forward/

Fulfilling the visionary promise of our area in relation to its rivers is just what this project is part of and it is a truly beautiful vision.

Retrieved March 27, 2018 from https://riverparkwayblog.wordpress.com/2007/03/19/two-rivers-trail/

Both of those posts were well before the problem of illegal camping by the homeless had grown to the level where it now threatens virtually the entire Parkway and the Save Don’t Pave group ably express their specific concern—as well as others—with the impact of increased illegal camping by the homeless near their neighborhood if the trail is paved, on their webpage https://savedontpave.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/our-concerns/

The problems across the river in the area we call Parkway’s Skid Row—from Discovery Park to Cal Expo—which the County’s stewardship has made worse, as surmised in this recent article from the Sacramento News & Review we blogged about on March 23, 2018 at https://riverparkwayblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/hundreds-illegally-camping-in-parkway/ entitled, Hundreds Illegally Camping in Parkway, where we posted:

That appears to be the consensus and the final line in this March 22, 2018 article from the Sacramento News & Review; as well as accepted knowledge from those of us who have been paying attention to this issue for years, makes note of that.

It is worse now than ever.

An excerpt from the article.

“Sally Dunbar hiked across a verdant meadow along the American River until a blue flap gave her pause. “Wait,” Dunbar said, eying the tent. The 66-year-old grandmother and realtor pulled out her smartphone and dropped a location “pin” using Sacramento 311’s app.

“Volunteer river stewards like Dunbar intend for this information to reach Sacramento County rangers tasked with citing people who illegally camp along the shore. Rangers received 35 of those alerts in January, county figures show, and handed out 260 tickets.

“It’s not like homeless people have many legal places to go instead. City and county officials haven’t reopened warming centers since last March, leaving 383 beds for the thousands of people sleeping on streets or along waterways.

“Recent storms didn’t result in temperatures dipping below the three-day, 32-degree threshold that triggers the centers to open. However, emergency staff can open them for other reasons, like the hail that blanketed Sacramento in late February or last week’s storms, the heaviest this year. There were no requests to do so, said county spokesperson Janna Haynes…

“I know there will be more camps to clean up,” Dunbar said, sounding resolved. “This is a natural resource. We need to protect it.”

“Jordan Powell, the American River Parkway Foundation’s volunteer coordinator, said county parks crews clean up the majority of the trash, which he says originates from recreational users as well as homeless people. He said 5,000 to 6,000 foundation volunteers pick up the rest and perform other conservation measures.

“Last winter’s torrential rains brought the American River to historic levels, chasing homeless campers from flooded riverbanks into more visible urban centers, according to a point-in-time report from Sacramento State University and Sacramento Steps Forward. The flooding also caused soil erosion that may be contributing to animal feces ending up in the river.

“Powell said he wasn’t sure if the river has been impacted by camping or foreign debris. But, speaking only as a Sacramento resident, he said the parkway is a poor alternative to a lack of shelter.

“The parkway is not a good answer to the lack of beds. That’s where the enforcement attitude comes from county parks, and why we need to really take a hard look at what we’re willing to invest in,” he said. “Until then, our stewards will roll up their sleeves and help out.”

“Days after Dunbar’s tour, campfires dotted the river near downtown, alighting dozens of tents and maybe hundreds of people.”

Retrieved March 22, 2018 from https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/riverbed-fellows/content?oid=26019477

This makes it difficult to convince the residents of River Park, the neighborhood adjacent to the proposed Two River’s Trail, that anything will be different for them if the trail is paved making access for the homeless illegal campers with their shopping carts much easier.

Our Position

Our position is that while we generally support the enhancement of the Parkway, the arguments made by the neighborhood as represented; either by the neighborhood association—currently neutral–or a majority of polled neighborhood residents adjacent to this particular enhancement should take precedence, at least until such time as Parkway management has addressed all of their concerns with concrete solutions or effective rebuttals.

Our position is congruent with one of our guiding principles: “Regarding new parkway usages: Inclusion should be the operating principle rather than exclusion”, which supports that the neighborhood’s concerns should be included in the decision making process rather than excluded.

The new Parkway usage will be the increased traffic and the addition of bikes on the new paved trail and including the impacted neighborhood in the decision making process should be the operating principle rather than excluding them.

There are at least a couple points that could be negotiated:

Could the new paved trail be built alongside the already existing natural trail, thus retaining the quiet pedestrian trail?

Would the city of Sacramento, if the plan proceeds as currently structured, promise, in a concrete manner, to absolutely stop any illegal camping near the trail, and provide an easily accessible citizen method of alerting city police/Parkway Rangers about illegal camps?

One argument the Save Don’t Pave group make is especially effective: “LOSING A QUIET PEDESTRIAN TRAIL TO BICYCLE TRAFFIC, Retrieved March 16, 2018 from https://savedontpave.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/our-concerns/

If you have ever walked meanderingly along the paved bike trail quietly lost in reflection about the beauty of the Parkway and had a squad of cyclists come speeding by, you know how valuable a quiet pedestrian trail can be, and draws attention to the idea of building a paved trail alongside the existing natural trail.

Here is the list related to that concern from the Save Don’t Pave website:

“LOSING A QUIET PEDESTRIAN TRAIL TO BICYCLE TRAFFIC

“Currently this area is a place people come to. Once it is paved, it will become a place people simply travel through.

“Hikers, families, and dog walkers come from all over Sacramento to use this quieter stretch of the American River Parkway. Many of those people are adamantly opposed to paving this section of the levee trail.

“By its very purpose, paving the trail will bring more foot/bike traffic to the area on the other side of the levee, making it less peaceful than it is today.

“In addition to foot/bike traffic on the pathway itself, foot/bike/car traffic will increase in River Park as people identify Glenn Hall Park as an access point. This will likely increase incidents of speeding, and other traffic violations.

“More cars parked on neighborhood streets near trail access points, affecting residents ability to park and access their homes. Increased use of neighborhood streets, parking, and the surrounding trail will likely increase the amount of litter on neighborhood streets and on the parkway.”

Retrieved March 27, 2018 from https://savedontpave.wordpress.com/2018/03/04/our-concerns/

These are all valid concerns and need to be addressed.

There is a River Park Neighborhood Association Spring General Meeting scheduled to discuss this project: Saturday, April 7, 2018 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, at Caleb Greenwood School, more info at http://riverparksacramento.net/event/rpna-spring-general-meeting/?instance_id=52

________________________________________________________

Society Information

________________________________________________________

The American River Parkway Preservation Society is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization. Donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. As a member, you will receive a monthly e-letter, quarterly newsletter, and periodic planning position papers.

Federal ID # 20-0238035

_______________________________

Board of Directors: President, Michael Rushford, President, Criminal Justice Legal Foundation;

VP/Secretary, Pete Bontadelli, Project Director/Consultant, Analytical Environmental Services

Chief Financial Officer/Founder, David H. Lukenbill, President, Lukenbill & Associates

American River Parkway Preservation Society

2267 University Avenue * Sacramento, CA 95825

E-Mail: Dlukenbill@msn.com

Website: www.arpps.org * Blog: http://www.riverparkwayblog.wordpress.com

Newsletter Editor: David H. Lukenbill, Senior Policy Director

Our Mission

Preserve, Protect, & Strengthen the American River Parkway, Our Community’s Natural Heart.

Our Vision

We want our Parkway, seven generations from now, to be a vibrant, accessible, and serene sanctuary, nourishing and refreshing the spirit of all who enter it.

Our Guiding Principles

(1) Preserving the Parkway is not an option, it’s a necessity.

(2) What’s good for the salmon is good for the river.

(3) Regarding illegal camping by the homeless in the North Sacramento area of the Parkway, social and environmental justice call upon us to help the poor and distressed person but not at the expense of the adjacent community to visit the Parkway safely.

(4) If it can be seen from the Parkway, it shouldn’t be built along the Parkway.

(5) Regarding new Parkway usages, inclusion should be the operating principle rather than exclusion.

(6) The suburban lifestyle—as surrounds the American River Parkway—which is imbued within the aspirational center of the California Dream and whose vision is woven into the heart of the American Dream, is a deeply loved way of life whose sustainability we all desire.

The Society depends solely on its membership to continue our advocacy to preserve the Parkway in perpetuity, and we deeply appreciate any additional financial support you can provide, or by encouraging others to become members. Thank You! 

© 2018 American River Parkway Preservation Society

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Posted in ARPPS, Homelessness, Parks

Suburban Living is the Dream for the Majority

As well-noted in this article from New Geography.

An excerpt.

The suburban house is the idealization of the immigrant’s dream—the vassal’s dream of his own castle. Europeans who come here are delighted by our suburbs. Not to live in an apartment! It is a universal aspiration to own your own home. —Los Angeles urbanist Edgardo Contini

For the better part of the past century, the American dream was defined, in large part, by that “universal aspiration” to own a home. As housing prices continue to outstrip household income, that’s changing as more and more younger Americans are ending up landless, and not by choice.

The share of homeownership has dropped most rapidly among the key shapers of the American future—millennials, immigrants, minorities. Since 2000, the home ownership among those under 45 has plunged 20 percent. In places like Atlanta, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston, and Indianapolis, and elsewhere, households with less than the median income qualify for a median-priced home with a 10 percent down payment, according to the National Association of Realtors. But in Seattle, Miami, and Denver, a household needs to make more than 120 percent of the median income to afford such median-priced house. In California, it’s even tougher: 140 percent in Los Angeles, 180 percent in San Diego, and over 190 percent in San Francisco.

Rents are rising as well. According to Zillow, for workers between the ages of 22 and 34, rent costs claim upwards of 45 percent of income in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Miami, compared to closer to 30 percent in Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston.

The basic reality: America’s new generation, particularly in some metros, increasingly seems destined to live as renters, without ever enjoying equity in property.

The Housing Crunch

Last year, the gap between new builds and demand was estimated at 330,000 houses. Nationally, the inventory of homes for sale has been shrinking for 24 straight months, and supply, according to the National Association of Realtors, is nearing its lowest level ever.

Given the surging demand among millennials and immigrants, why are builders not meeting the demand? The reasons vary, but, according to the National Association of Homebuilders, they include higher material costs, long permitting waits, labor shortages, and too few inexpensive lots.

Not all the difficulties, however, can be traced to market forces. In many regions of the country, conscious government planning discourages single-family home construction, a policy often described oddly enough as “smart growth.” Advocates of this approach suggest that most people, particularly millennials, do not want single-family homes, and prefer to live chock-a-bloc in dense multi-family units.

This does not reflect reality. In survey after survey, an overwhelming majority of millennials, including renters, want a home of their own. A Fannie Mae survey of people under 40 found that nearly 80 percent of renters thought owning made more financial sense, a sentiment shared by an even larger number of owners (PDF). They cited such things as asset appreciation, control over the living environment, and a hedge against rent increases. Roughly four in five purchases made by people under 35 are for single-family detached homes (PDF).

The real problem is a growing gap between what people want and what they can afford.
Jason Furman (PDF), the former chairman of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, has warned that price escalations associated with strong housing regulation push many people “out of the market entirely.”

These huge price premiums, particularly stark in California, also plague Denver, Miami, New York, Portland, Seattle, Honolulu, and Boston. Where housing prices once closely tracked rents, they now have shot up in many metropolitan areas far past what renters would ever be able to afford.

Retrieved April 3, 2018 from http://www.newgeography.com/content/005923-landless-americans-are-new-serf-class

Posted in demographics

Orange County Changed Mind, Fast

Their idea of new shelters for the homeless did not last long, as the Wall Street Journal reports.

An excerpt.

SANTA ANA, Calif.—Faced with a growing homeless population and a federal judge’s order to find shelter for hundreds of people living on the streets, Orange County lawmakers recently devised a plan: Open as many as three temporary shelters across this coastal county.

It didn’t last a week.

On Tuesday, county supervisors scrapped the plan for the shelters, following days of furious blowback from residents who accused them of trying to erect “tent cities” that would turn upscale neighborhoods into skid rows.

As homeless populations continue to climb in cities along the West Coast—fueled by the dwindling stock of affordable housing—the battle in Orange County, a wealthy enclave south of Los Angeles, demonstrates one of the enduring challenges of getting people off the streets: Few communities will agree to house them.

The question of where to shelter the homeless is now pitting Orange County’s 34 cities against one another, with each arguing that temporary homeless shelters don’t belong there, and blaming the county for failing to tackle the problem until it was too late.

In response to a federal lawsuit filed in January a judge ordered county officials to find shelter for hundreds of people who were cleared out of an encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed last month.

The county agreed to provide 30-day motel vouchers for nearly 700 people, and hoped to move them into shelters and other housing within the month. Many of the motel vouchers expire this week, and no one is sure where those staying in the motels will go.

Shawn Nelson, an Orange County Supervisor, said the hope was that after the judicial order, local cities would help the county address the crisis, “but there are no volunteers.”

All three cities where temporary shelters had been proposed—Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel—threatened to file their own lawsuits against the county if the plan were enacted, arguing that it placed an unfair burden on their communities.

On Tuesday, more than 1,000 protesters surrounded the county’s board of supervisors meeting in Santa Ana—the latest in a series of heated meetings on the issue this month—waving signs that read: “No Tent City in Irvine” and “No Drugs Near Our Schools.”

During the meeting, officials from cities throughout the county argued that they, too, shouldn’t host temporary shelters, citing the proximity of proposed sites to public parks, schools, day-care facilities and libraries.

“We’ve taken the brunt,” said Valerie Amezcua, president of the school board in Santa Ana, one of the less affluent cities in the county, where homeless encampments already dot sidewalks.

“Our kids can’t use the libraries. Our kids go to school in the morning, and somebody is sleeping in front of our schools,” Ms. Amezcua said at the meeting.

Christina L. Shea, the mayor pro tem of Irvine, said in an interview that Orange County had waited too long to deal with the crisis. “Because the county has chosen to close their eyes and not solve the problem, all of a sudden they’re saying, just build a tent here next to $1 million homes,” she said.

Ultimately, county officials not only backed away from the plan they had ostensibly supported only last week, but also apologized for it.

Retrieved March 30, 2018 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/orange-county-was-set-to-house-the-homeless-and-there-was-a-popular-revolt-1522324800?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=1

Another take on the story came from the Los Angeles Times, see http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-homeless-asians-20180401-story.html

Posted in Homelessness