Homeless Advocates Call Anaheim Councilwoman’s Dog Park Solution ‘Mean-Spirited’

Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring at a recent City Council meeting.

Adam Elmahrek/Voice of OC

Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring at a recent City Council meeting.

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Homeless advocates this week criticized Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring for suggesting the city oust homeless people from parks by turning the spaces into dog parks, calling the suggestion “mean-spirited” and “counterproductive.”

The criticism came after published news reports and video of Kring’s remarks circulated on social media. Kring was responding to residents who attended a City Council meeting earlier this month and complained that Twila Reid park had become a de facto homeless encampment, bringing crime and drugs into the neighborhood.

Kring asked city officials to study turning Twila Reid into a dog park as a way to keep homeless people out. In making her suggestion, she said the police department found that turning La Palma Park into a dog park was effective in pushing out homeless people.

“It’s a social activity. It’s wonderful for the dogs. It’s wonderful for the owners, and it really keeps the homeless out,” Kring said.

Kring also had called on a local church to stop providing food for homeless people at Twila Reid park. She said the church should instead bus them out of the park and feed them elsewhere. The church’s charity work at the park was trashing the place, she said.

The Anaheim Poverty Task Force, a group of faith-based leaders dedicated to helping homeless people, stated in a press release that Kring’s suggestion “ups the ante of sheer callousness.”

The Task Force noted that homelessness in the region rose in 2015 by 5 percent, despite better economic conditions. And the problem is exacerbated by the fact that  affordable housing lists are closed and shelters are either full or closed, the statement said.

Orange County is also without a permanent year-round shelter. Local government officials in Anaheim and throughout the county are working on changing that, but have run into stiff resistance from businesses and neighbors at proposed shelter locations.

At this week’s council meeting, a few homeless advocates criticized Kring’s suggestion. But some residents near Twila Reid park also thanked Kring for her comments.

At one point, the councilwoman got into a heated back and forth with R. Joshua Collins, a Christian advocate who supports homeless people, held up a sign saying “dogs b4 people = shame.”

“God condemns a lot of things. But one thing he doesn’t condemn is poverty and homelessness,” Collins said.

Kring shot back, saying that the people around Twila Reid park don’t have the ability to enjoy it because homeless people had taken over, leaving drugs and needles, washing their clothes in the bathroom sinks, and doing “all kinds of bodily functions.”

She denied saying that “a dog park would supplant the homeless,” claiming that all she said was a dog park would help increase activity at the park to reduce crime.

“We need to do something for the people who rightly belong in the park,” Kring said.

Collins replied that it was hateful to say homeless people don’t “rightly belong” at a city park.

“That’s shameful. You’re a bigot,” Collins said.

“I’m not a bigot,” Kring responded.

At that point, Mayor Tom Tait shut down the exchange. But not before Kring got in the last word.

“He attacked me first,” she said.

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

  • CitizensForAnimalShelterOC

    After the OC Grand Jury issued the most scathing report just this year about the 74 year old animal shelter , Anaheim’s response to the Grand Jury was: “The City of Anaheim respectfully declines to implement a demand to the County related to a new facility or facilities as it is not warranted. Anaheim continues to collaborate with the County and partner as one of the leaders in this inevitable project”. For 20 years the county (Board of Supervisors) have been stating they will build a new shelter in Tustin on which the Marine Air Corp Station once occupied. To date, the county still does not have a date when the land will be available on which to build a new shelter. The current county shelter was originally built to serve a population of 200,000. The population of Anaheim alone is now approximately 342,102. The current shelter is over burdened and underfunded, thanks to the Board of Supervisors and now contracts to serve 2 million people.. The city of Santa Ana is second to the City of Anaheim on the number of animals impounded at the shelter and euthanized. ANAHEIM NEEDS TO BE PRO ACTIVE ON THIS ISSUE.

    Pope Francis has told the world to take better care of God’s Creation. The Dalai Lama, who Mayor Tait met during his recently visit to Orange County, calls for compassion for animals. The animal shelter has become the poster child for Orange County. Is it also a reflection of our morals???

  • Jacki Livingston

    Anyone ever been to the ARTIC monstrosity? *crickets* No? Oh, well, anyway, I used it for months, and I personally saw the security there running off anyone who remotely might have looked homeless. They were nasty, and mean and harassed men and women, children, even. I knew homeless folks who learned to wear Angels T shirts, and then they could rest there and be out of the usual traffic. Homelessness can happen to anyone. I had a client who made a quarter of a million, the year before, but was having his water shut off because he was laid off and couldn’t get a job.

  • Zia Back

    Stop whining, Lucy! Step down, Lucy! Remember “those people” that grass is too expensive for and how fatal OISs “save the cost of a trial” – Lucy, Lucy, Lucy – it seems only a recall will teach you a lesson. So sorry you’re grossed out by homeless – especially when many are elderly women and veterans. A woman had her belongings taken by Anaheim police Monday (9/21/2015) – in her belongings were Depends undergarments – how disgusting! Run that woman out with a doggy park for the rich, by all means! *snark*

  • John Claxton

    Why don’t you address the homeless situation instead of trying to get someone else to do it. It’s shameful. These poor souls are sleeping on almost every bus bench in the city – with the exception of Anaheim Hills, imagine that.

  • David Zenger

    It hardly matters. Pay her campaign debt (to herself) and she’ll say anything you want.

  • RyanCantor

    “I’m not a bigot,” Kring responded.

    I’ll let that stand on its own merits.