Fighting Homelessness in San Francisco

The situation in San Francisco as it relates to the proposed new tax on business is updated in this story from the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

SAN FRANCISCO—Christin Evans and Gwen Kaplan both run small businesses in neighborhoods they say have become overrun with homeless encampments.

Like most San Francisco residents, they agree the problem has grown to an unprecedented scale, with homeless people taking drugs, using the streets as toilets and showing signs of mental breakdown.

“Clients get out of their cars and say, ‘What is going on here?’,” said Ms. Kaplan, whose direct-marketing business abuts a tent city. “There are all those homeless people and needles and prostitution.”

But Ms. Kaplan and Ms. Evans hold opposing views on Proposition C, a ballot measure Nov. 6 that would impose a tax increase on large corporations to raise money to assist the homeless. Recent polling showed San Franciscans evenly divided on the proposal.

The measure would raise about $300 million next year, according to estimates. San Francisco now spends $380 million on homelessness, one of the biggest such budgets in the U.S., according to a city analysis.

“We have such tremendous wealth in San Francisco that we don’t have a choice but to invest in more shelters for these people,” said Ms. Evans, who owns a bookstore and two other businesses in the Haight-Ashbury district where hundreds of homeless sleep in doorways, along sidewalks and beneath trees.

The tax increase on gross receipts would be levied on roughly 300 big companies with more than $50 million in revenue. Ms. Kaplan—who co-owns a direct-marketing firm in the city’s Mission district—said she feared those companies would spend less as a result and hurt thousands of smaller businesses like hers. “We feel a tax on big business in a roundabout way is a tax on all of us,” she said.

Homelessness has grown to crisis proportions in a number of American cities, including Los Angeles, Seattle and Honolulu. But in few places is the juxtaposition of haves and have-nots as jarring as San Francisco. Many of the city’s 7,500 homeless live in tents, cardboard boxes or on the open street in the shadow of gleaming new skyscrapers built during the city’s ongoing technology boom.

Housing prices have skyrocketed in the city in recent years, pushing some onto the streets. Homeless people also flock to San Francisco because of its mild climate and generous social services, say people who have worked with the population.

Believing the problem had reached a tipping point, social-services nonprofits earlier this year teamed with some civic and business leaders to come up with Proposition C.

“We have a lot of programs that are working, but because the problem has gotten so big, we need a lot more help,” said Salesforce . com Chief Executive Marc Benioff, one of the measure’s most outspoken proponents. His company would pay as much as $11 million more in taxes under the measure, he has said.

Many others in San Francisco’s business community—including fellow tech titans like Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey—oppose the measure, as does Mayor London Breed, a Democrat. They cite concerns about accountability for the new spending and how higher taxes would impact the economy.

The effort to pass Proposition C has raised about $8 million, much of that from Mr. Benioff and Salesforce. The campaign to defeat it has attracted $2 million.

Under Proposition C, about 4,000 new or improved housing units would be added for the homeless. There are now about 1,200 shelter beds, for which there is usually a long waiting list. Mental-health and other services would also be enhanced.

Opponents say the added resources could just attract more homeless from other California cities grappling with the same problem.

“If we were able to get 7,000 people housed, then 7,000 more would take their place,” said Jim Lazarus, senior vice president of public policy with the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which advocates a regional approach with other cities.

Retrieved November 1, 2018 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/san-francisco-businesses-are-split-on-tax-boost-to-fight-homelessness-1540994400?mod=hp_major_pos4

 

Posted in Economy, Homelessness

Solid Common Sense on Homelessness

A great article from Christopher F. Rufo in Seattle describing their situation, which fits Sacramento all too well, and he offers sound, researched solutions to solving the emergency.

An excerpt.

Abstract

The City of Seattle has failed to address its current homelessness crisis. In fact, because of ideological capture and poor policy decisions, the city has created a system of perverse incentives that has only made the crisis worse. In order to truly confront the problem of homelessness, the city’s leadership must embrace a policy of realism: quickly build emergency shelter, enforce the law against public camping, and dismantle the system of perverse incentives. Ultimately, the city has enough resources to solve the crisis—it must summon the political courage to break free from its current ideological deadlock and implement better policies.

***

SEATTLE is a city under siege. Over the past five years, the Emerald City has endured a slow-rolling explosion of homelessness, crime, and addiction. In a one-night count this winter, there were 11,643 people sleeping in tents, cars, and emergency shelters. 1

Property crime has skyrocketed to rates two-and-a-half times that of Los Angeles and four times that of New York City. 2 Cleanup crews pick up tens of thousands of dirty needles from the streets and parks across the city. 3

At the same time, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal, the Seattle metro area spends more than $1 billion on the homelessness crisis every year. 4 That’s nearly $100,000 for every homeless man, woman, and child in King County, yet the crisis seems to only have deepened, with more addiction, more crime, and more tent encampments staking their claim in residential neighborhoods. By any measurement, whatever the city is doing now is not working.

The City of Seattle has failed to address ideological capture and poor policy decisions and the city has created a system of perverse incentives that has only made the crisis worse. In order to truly confront the problem of homeless- ness, the city’s leadership must embrace a policy of realism: quickly build emergency shelter, enforce the law against public camping, and dismantle the system of perverse incentives.

Over the past year, I’ve spent time in city council meetings, political rallies, homeless encampments, and rehabilitation facilities hoping to understand this para-dox: how is it possible that the government spends so much money and, at the same time, makes so little impact? While most of the debate on homelessness has focused on the technical questions that make up the superstructure of our public policy— should we build more shelters, should we build supervised injection sites—I learned that in order to truly unravel this paradox, we must to examine the deeper assumptions and beliefs that have come to shape the way we think about homelessness in cities like Seattle.

As I delved into the story, I discovered that the real battle isn’t being waged in the tents, under the bridges, or in the corridors of City Hall. Rather, there’s a deeper, ideological war that’s currently being won by a loose alliance of four major power centers: the socialist revolutionaries, the compassion brigades, the homeless-industrial complex, and the addiction evangelists. Together, these four groups have framed the political debate, diverted hundreds of millions of dollars towards favored projects, and recruited a large phalanx of well-intentioned voters who have bought into the “politics of unlimited compassion.”

If we want to truly break through the failed status quo on homelessness in places like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, we must first understand the dynamics of ideological battlefield, identify the fatal flaws in our current policies, and fundamentally reframe the way we understand the crisis. Until then, we’ll continue to dream up utopian schemes that end in failure and despair.

Retrieved October 29, 2018 from https://chrisforseattle.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Homelessness-Report.pdf?utm_

Posted in Homelessness

Press Release

October 26, 2018, Sacramento, California

Homeless Transformation Campus

A primary question being asked right now when discussing removing the homeless illegally camping in the Parkway or anywhere in the region is, “Where will they go?”

Though our concern is with the devastation illegal camping has been causing to the Parkway, rather than determining the fate of the homeless when and if they are ever fully removed from the Parkway; like everyone else, we suffer when thinking about the misery and destitution that is part of the fabric of living without a home.

Over the past several years we have researched a possible strategy, based on our practice of examining working models in use somewhere else, that will answer the question of where will they go.

Sacramento County could consider creating a homeless transformation campus capable of handling the majority of homeless in the County based on the model of Haven for Hope in San Antonio, Texas which is the largest and most comprehensive homeless transformation campus in the United States, providing residence to approximately 1,600 individuals on any given night.

The Haven for Hope campus is composed of fifteen buildings on 37 acres with almost five hundred thousand square feet of service space under roof.

A Sacramento location would need to have at least this much space and be capable of accommodating the types of homeless services needed for a homeless transformation campus, including encouraging relocation to the chosen site two of the most important and largest homeless service organizations in Sacramento: Loaves and Fishes and Sacramento Steps Froward, as well as some of the programs providing residential service.

And, to deal with NIMBY a location outside of dense residential/business areas is optimal.

A perusal of the Haven for Hope brochure at their website https://www.havenforhope.org/downloads/docs/H4H%20Tri%20Fold.pdf   will provide more information about these specific strategies.

This Press Release is also online on our website News Page at http://www.arpps.org/news.html

Organizational Leadership, American River Parkway Preservation Society, Sacramento, California, October 26, 2018

Posted in Homelessness

Parkway Camping Update

Good story from Sacramento News & Review about the response of city and county.

Excerpts.

Sacramento County leaders last week grappled with the legal implications of their anti-camping ordinance and then declared an official shelter crisis. The latter move puts the entire region one step closer to harnessing a new funding source meant to help those on the streets.

The ground shifted for elected officials and law enforcement around the nation in early September when the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that issuing criminal citations to people who are camping is, in some cases, cruel and unusual punishment. The ruling was leveled against the city of Boise, Idaho, which is appealing the verdict.

The city of Sacramento has decided to ignore the legal development until Boise’s appeal is heard. Meanwhile, Sacramento County supervisors weighed their own options October 16 as County Counsel Robyn Truitt reviewed the Boise decision with them.

“The city of Sacramento’s ordinance is almost word for word the same as Boise’s,” Truitt remarked. “Our [county] ordinance was written in 1971. It clearly hasn’t been updated or refreshed for these times in this economy.”

Truitt said her interpretation of the Boise ruling is that it’s not a matter of anti-camping rules being unconstitutional, but rather how they’re applied. Specifically, she said, the issue comes down to whether a person has an alternative place to go or not. That problem comes up enough that county rangers patrolling the American River Parkway have already changed some of their tactics since the Boise ruling.

Rob Leonard, the deputy county executive for municipal services, told supervisors that rangers are no longer citing people for camping without a permit, illegal camping or camping on public or private land. Leonard noted that rangers are continuing to cite individuals for littering, starting camp fires, having dogs off leashes, possessing open alcohol containers and bringing shopping carts into the greenway.

Raising concerns about wildfires and river pollution, the supervisors asked their staff to do more research before any vote is taken on officially changing the county’s anti-camping ordinance.

They were more decisive when it came to the next item of business—declaring a homeless shelter crisis. It was a critical step for making sure the region can access the governor’s new Homeless Emergency Aid Program, or HEAP, which will bring an additional $5.6 million of shelter resources to the city of Sacramento and $12.7 million to Sacramento Steps Forward, the coordinating agency for front-line homeless services.

To get the money, both the city and the county had to declare a shelter crisis. Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has indicated the City Council will take the same vote by the end of the month.

Ben Avey, chief public affairs officer for Steps Forward, said his agency is now reaching out to the smaller cities within Sacramento County to see if they plan to do the same…

This week, Avey said the plan has evolved to ensure that more shelter beds will be added, both in the city and the county.

Retrieved October 25, 2018 from https://www.newsreview.com/sacramento/crisis-course-correction/content?oid=27277604

 

Posted in Government, Homelessness

Good Water News for California

As reported by the Wall Street Journal.

An excerpt.

President Trump today signed an order directing his regulators to more efficiently deliver water in California and other Western states, in a move that could help Republican incumbents in tight congressional races.

The order applies to state and federal water delivery projects in California, and federal ones in Oregon and Washington. In order to deliver more water to farmers, as well as some urban regions, it calls on the secretaries of the Interior and Commerce departments to streamline regulatory reviews and remove “unnecessary burdens.”

The projects covered include some of the most extensive irrigation delivery systems for farmers in California, Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Farmers there have long complained of not being able to get enough water for their crops because of environmental regulations to protect endangered fish and other species.

Some political observers also are likely to see today’s order as representing a political help to Republican incumbents locked in tight congressional races in California and elsewhere in the West. Shut-off of federal water supplies during times of drought has often enraged farmers in the West, and Republicans have in the past attempted to use the issue to their political advantage.

Jessica Levinson, a law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, said the timing of the announcement could hardly be coincidental. “There is no way this is a coincidence,” Ms. Levinson said. “This is better get out the vote advertising than anything you could buy on TV. We all know the balance of power in the House rests on what happens in California. And if you can sway some key voters in some key districts to vote Republican, this is a huge win.”

Trump administration officials, though, said the order wasn’t timed to the midterms and praised it as long overdue. “Today’s action might be the most significant action taken by a president on Western water issues in my lifetime,” David Bernhardt, deputy interior secretary, said in a briefing with reporters.

The order drew swift condemnation from environmentalists.

“This is clearly a political stunt, and Californians are going to pay the price,” said Mary Creasman, chief executive of the California League of Conservation Voters. “The danger is we are going to miss some of the important environmental protections we have in place.”

Environmentalists have called on farmers and other water users to emphasize conservation and alternative sources in the face of frequent droughts in the region.

Several House Republicans up for re-election in California called the order a relief for farmers across the state.

Retrieved October 20, 2018 from https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-orders-expedited-delivery-of-western-water-1539979539?fbclid=IwAR1qeaM2GZPllHPF0x01IglwDiWSHz-zid3YipaPXyynObUhknnPfxB5JzA

 

Posted in Shasta Auburn Dam, Water

Importing Oil Rather Than Using Our Own

That’s what California is doing as reported by CFACT.

An excerpt.

The latest data from the California Energy Commission (CEC), shows that California fuel consumption is at the highest level since 2009, thus continuation of the state’s dependency on foreign countries for the states’ energy needs seems to be the states future.

In 2017, California imported crude oil from foreign countries at the rate of 354,119,000 barrels annually. The price that refiners are paying in California for that oil is the Brent Average Crude Oil Spot Price which was recently $75.36 per barrel for September 2018.

Importing more than 354 million barrels of crude oil from foreign countries is costing California more than $26.6 billion annually at the current Brent spot price for oil.

On a DAILY basis, importing more than 354 million barrels of crude oil annually costs California more than $73,000,000 per day. Those California dollars are being “EXPORTED” on a daily basis from California to Saudi Arabia, Ecuador, Columbia, Iraq, Kuwait, Brazil, and Mexico and others.

The volume of imported crude oil for 2018 is expected to be higher than 2017 because of the constant decline in California crude oil production, and the constant decline in imports from Alaska, thus, both the imported numbers of barrels from foreign countries and costs are increasing to fill the void.

The 1,700 square-mile Monterey Shale, from the state’s central coast to its San Joaquin Valley, holds roughly 60 percent of the country’s estimated shale oil reserves. Yet, even though California is sitting on one of the largest shale reserves and ocean crude oil reserves in the country in the Monterrey Shale and Pacific Ocean, California’s reliance on crude oil imports from foreign countries is at 56% and increasing each year.

In lieu of sending that money abroad to countries that are already oil rich, that money could have stayed in the state to be earned by hard-working, tax-paying Californians by accessing the huge reserves in-state.

Rather than obtaining oil from foreign countries with less stringent environmental regulations than California, via air polluting ships delivering the crude oil, the State could be contributing to lessening world GHG emissions by increasing in-state production from the most environmentally regulated location in the world, from one of the largest crude oil reserves in the country.

Oil from in-state reserves could provide Californians with affordable and reliable energy, and jobs, but California seems to be on a continuous path of importing crude oil from foreign countries and sending more than $73,000,000 of its dollars to oil rich nations on a DAILY basis.

Retrieved October 17, 2018 from http://www.cfact.org/2018/10/09/california-ranks-1-in-sending-dollars-abroad-for-energy/

Posted in Economy, Environmentalism

Lot of Money, Little Action

A bunch more money is flowing into the various homeless services coffers in our area, according to this story from Sacramento County News, but very little seems to be happening in terms of actually reducing homelessness, especially the illegal (arguably lately) camping in the Parkway, which will now increase due to the legal decision of the Ninth Circuit making camping in public (if there are no shelter beds available for the homelsss) essentially legal.

The story.

The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors today endorsed a collaborative investment plan for more than $19 million locally in new, one-time State funding aimed at helping local communities address their immediate homelessness challenges.

The funding will be used to expand emergency shelter services for individuals, families and youth experiencing homelessness and to fund a flexible housing pool to be administered by the County Department of Human Assistance. The pool will provide individualized practical help with rental assistance and other services to transition participants from the streets to permanent housing.

More than $14 million in State funding is allocated to Sacramento Steps Forward (SSF) as the homeless Continuum of Care and more than $5 million to the City of Sacramento, one of 11 cities statewide receiving a direct allocation. A community process was used to help identify the most impactful investments to further Sacramento’s efforts once Senate Bill 850 was signed by Governor Brown in June of this year. The legislation allocated $553 million statewide for two new programs: the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) and the California Emergency Solutions and Housing Program (CESH).

Sacramento’s plan envisions collaborative implementation of HEAP and CESH, including Sacramento County administering nearly $11 million to expand family shelters, expand scattered site shelters, and create and implement the Flexible Housing Pool. The Flexible Housing Pool will work with existing shelters, navigation programs and the City’s Pathways program to identify participants for re-housing.

​In addition, for the first time, flexible re-housing services and financial assistance will be available for vulnerable seniors through referrals from Sacramento County Adult Protective Service and from a new Jail Diversion Pilot intended to connect low-level misdemeanants experiencing homelessness with services in lieu of jail.

The City of Sacramento’s HEAP funding will be used primarily to increase sheltering capacity, including a new triage shelter and youth sheltering options. SSF will use about $1 million in CESH funding to make system improvements to Sacramento’s homeless system, focusing on developing its coordinated entry system, for community strategic planning and furthering collaborative efforts among public and private funders.

“We welcome the State’s support of our local efforts and are excited for the opportunity to build on programs developed in 2017 as part of Sacramento County’s homeless initiatives, including the County’s scattered site shelter program and its Flexible Supportive ReHousing Program” said Cindy Cavanaugh, Sacramento County’s Director of Homeless Initiatives. “We are looking forward to helping more people, including vulnerable seniors, and in partnering in new ways so that, together, we can have a greater impact in reducing homelessness in Sacramento.”

To participate in HEAP funding the State statute requires that local jurisdictions must declare a shelter crisis. As part of its action​, the Board of Supervisors passed its decla​ration of a shelter crisis, thereby allowing the County to administer HEAP funds and, allowing persons experiencing homelessness in the unincorporated County to be eligible for services.

For more information on Sacramento County’s commitment to homeless outreach visit our website.

Retrieved October 16, 2018 from http://www.saccounty.net/news/latest-news/Pages/County-Participates-in-New-State-Homeless-Funding.aspx

Posted in Homelessness