Armenta: County Officials Need to Rethink Proposed Anaheim Homeless Shelter Site

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I am one of the hundreds of local residents who has vocally opposed the County’s plan for a 200-bed, permanent homeless shelter at 1000 Kraemer Place in Anaheim.

Many of us also volunteer our time and energy, in various ways, to help the homeless, but we oppose this location and believe there are better locations and solutions.

Orange County Human Relations Commission Chairman Ken Inouye’s October 27 opinion column was offensive, condescending and misrepresented how the County of Orange has conducted this process.

Mr. Inouye, who lives many miles away, claims the County has “orchestrate[d] intense public engagement.”

Anyone who lives near the proposed site can tell you that is a sham.

For example: Mr. Inouye closes his October 26 column with a pitch for readers to come to the Board of Supervisors meeting at 11:00 a.m. on November 17 to support the Kraemer Place shelter. The public wasn’t told when the Board would vote on the shelter until November 3.

Why was Mr. Inouye, a vocal shelter advocate from Huntington Beach, given the heads up more than a week before those of us who actually live near the site?

That’s typical of how the County has played this.

When the Board of Supervisors voted on June 2 to approve the purchase agreement for 1000 Kraemer Place, the meeting was packed with professional advocates who were in the loop.

Hardly any residents were present because hardly any of us knew about it.

The county then promised us three community forums in June, July and August.

At the June 26 forum – held miles away in Fullerton – the most common answer to our questions was “I don’t know.”

The County subsequently announced it was re-scheduling the July and August forums. Weeks passed with no updates, so we organized our own community forum on August 8 at the Embassy Suites in Anaheim, near the impacted community and 1000 Kraemer Place. Approximately 400 residents attended, nearly all of them opposed to this location.

Supervisor Todd Spitzer was invited but declined, and sent no representative from his office.

The second forum finally happened on September 30.

An estimated 600 people came.

Most were affected residents, while the rest were shelter advocates from out of the area.

Contrary to Mr. Inouye’s claim, most attendees were opposed to the proposed shelter location. After waiting months for the County to present its shelter plans, we were given just 30 seconds to comment or ask questions about Power Point presentations on the operations and public safety plans we had just seen for the first time.

The County of Orange and the cities of Anaheim, Fullerton and Orange want to stick a 200-bed homeless shelter near where we live and operate it year-round, 24 hours a day, yet we only get half a minute to have our say.

Instead of being reassured, residents left that forum angrier and more distrustful of the county’s plan than when they arrived.

The third forum has apparently been re-scheduled for the 1st of Never-Gonna-Happen.

More examples:

The Kraemer Shelter Operations Plan was completed on August 14.

Instead of sharing it with residents starved for that information, the County sat on it until the September 30 forum. Even then, the actual plan wasn’t made available on the County’s official “Kraemer Project” information website.

The 30-day public comment period for the shelter CEQA documents, began on October 30.

Those documents were buried deep in the OC Public Works website.

The County waited until after the public comment ended to post a link to the CEQA documents on the Kraemer Project information website, in what some consider a Brown Act violation.

The Board of Supervisor vote on November 11 will take place in the middle of the day.

The professional homeless advocates can spend all day waiting to give their canned support speeches – it’s their job. But it’s hard for us to take a day off from work and wait hours for our turn to speak for three minutes. It’s even tougher when the County behaves as if it doesn’t really care what we think.

Ken Inouye, chairman of the OC Human Relations Commission, waves away our concerns as “unfounded,” “irrational,” and “rooted in fear” and implies we’d would be on board if we only had the facts.

If Mr. Inouye spent time relating to the humans who live near 1000 Kraemer Place, he’d see the County has hardly lifted a finger to inform us. The only reason hundreds of residents attended Supervisor Spitzer’s September 30 community forum or are even aware of the shelter proposal at all is due to the efforts of affected businesses and resident to inform them.

There are alternatives.

One of our members found a similar size building for sale on next to the Civic Center that is $1.2 million cheaper than 1000 Kraemer Place.

The huge OCTA Bus Depot also sits at the Civic Center, empty, next to hundreds of homeless.

What about more, smaller, 30 to 40 bed shelters around the county instead of big, 200-bed shelters?

Wouldn’t it be quicker and more flexible to use the millions planned for Kraemer Place for mobile intake centers that can go to the homeless?

Or perhaps take Sup. Andrew Do’s advice and first figure out how to coordinate the County’s uncoordinated homeless programs.

And for being engaged, active citizens asking questions and demanding answers, Mr. Inouye accuses us of “unfairly pointing the finger” at “decent people.”

Orange resident Angie Armenta is active in BetterSolutions4Anaheim.com, a group of impacted residents and businesses opposed to locating a 200-bed permanent county homeless shelter at 1000 Kraemer Place.

Voice of OC is interested in hearing different perspectives and voices. If you want to weigh in on this issue please contact Voice of OC  Publisher Norberto Santana at nsantana@voiceofoc.org.

  • Toby Nixon

    You’re avoiding the question, just exactly why is it you don’t want Homeless sheltered in your area? I fully understand that many people believe that the Homeless are just criminals, junkies and crazies, who are coming from all over to come to your little town. But not only do Anahiem people feel that way, but Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, Eureka, Arcata, San Jose, Monterey, Berkeley as well as, Denver, Chicago, New York, Charleston, Miami, Dallas, Tucson, Phoenix, Seattle, Philadelphia…. Everywhere you turn you have Business Owners calling in false reports about the Homeless. Blocking Shelters, Affordable housing, telling law enforcement to run them out of town. Why? Because of your property values. *Crys for your property values* The facts are that there has been no increase in over twenty (20) years in shelter beds or affordable housing. It costs $16,000 a year, per person to simply initiate the Housing First initiative. Where it costs $47,000 for a year in jail for each homeless person,$200 an hour per cop, equipment, insurance ect. $1,200 for each court appearance of a Homeless person and an estimated whopping $67,000 to simply keep ignoring the problem. 10,000 people a week since 1992 have been evicted from their homes during this Mortgage Crisis. Not all of them become Homeless, but it strains resources and further removing working, disabled, veteran and elderly homeless from those resources. Even though cities across the country are on average only serving 9-14% of the homeless making 80% have to sleep outside illegally. While you are presuring people who are homeless to leave your city, other homeless people are being shipped to Anaheim. So, really if you want to argue about who belongs in Anahiem, remember that you have kicked out as many people as are coming there. Every citizen of the United States has a right to travel with or without money, needing no authorization from you to do so. And if you keep pressuring your city council, county and state government to harass the Homeless instead of giving them shelter, your paying out the nose to have officers commit a federal crime. It’s called Gang Stalking, https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/28/534 28 US Code 534 prevents Conspiracy to deny rights.

    That’s why I started Homeless Advocacy & Action Coalition. To stop the criminalization, disenfranchisement and ostracizing of the Homeless.

    We will be live streaming video in Anahiem soon. To stop the practice. If you have any questions please contact a Lawyer or the US Department of Justice and ask them about how cities are violating homeless 8th Amendment rights to be free of cruel and unusual punishment by giving tickets for sleeping in public view when shelters are ridiculously inaccessible.

    I mean come on, did you really think you could simply ignore this forever? Dehumanizing people was tried, they even killed lots of Black People, labeled bathrooms and water fountains, denied people their right to vote and freely assemble. We all know how that turned out.

    You may have legitimate concerns about placement if you didn’t need a thousand more beds rather than only 200.

    The Homeless will take it however it comes, but the business owners and large property holders will always have their stereotypes to cling to. Yours is not any thing new. There’s a hundred articles by concerned citizens wanting the Homeless in jail or to simply be disappeared.

    Facts are though, you don’t really know what a Homeless person looks like; they look like your neighbor without a home. Anything else is pure hate.

  • LFOldTimer

    I don’t live near the proposed shelter sight, Ms. Armenta. But I sympathize with you. If I did live nearby I’d be pretty upset. It’s easy for those who don’t own businesses or residential properties near 1000 Kraemer Pl. to tell you to stop complaining. If this sight was within a mile of where any of the 5 Supervisors (or their Chief’s of Staff or the other high-ranking execs) live or owned businesses- it wouldn’t even be on the table. So there are some of us who are far removed from this shelter who feel your pain, believe it or not.
    Putting a 200 plus bed shelter near any residential or business area is just plain wrong. It’s a grave injustice to those who live or own businesses nearby. My preference would be to scatter about 10 or 12 homeless shelters throughout the county with 15-20 beds each. All OC cities have their own homeless populations. This should be a city by city responsibility to bear the burden. Not a problem that should be shouldered soley by the residents who live near Kraemer Pl. It’s egregiously wrong. And everybody knows it, whether they say it or not.
    If it’s set in stone that we have to have one huge homeless shelter the only location that makes sense to me would be the old abandoned bus depot near where most of the homeless already live. Plus, as you stated, it would save the County taxpayers over a million dollars. But the whole idea is to remove the homeless from the Civic Center and put them in somebody else’s backyard away from the seat of government. Out of sight, out of mind.
    And general public comments should be at the beginning of every Supervisor’s meeting….not at the end. That’s another way that they stifle the public from getting involved in public policy. Few people want to sit through 4-6 hours of a meeting to speak on an off-agenda matter. It thwarts public involvement and it’s wrong. It would be easy to change. But they refuse. They don’t want to hear your complaints. Oh, they’ll mouth the words “of, for and by the People” but in practice it’s a very different silent message. Anyone with the ability to intellectually connect dots should clearly see the contradictory communications here.
    I wish you the best. But I’m afraid the County will do whatever is needed to kick the Kraemer Pl. shelter across the finish line, like it or not. The shelter resistance in Fullerton and Santa Ana foiled the County’s plans. I don’t think they’ll be denied a 3rd time unless you take it to the streets. Good luck. Some of us far removed do care about your situation. I just want you to know that.

  • David Zenger

    Ms. Armenta,

    I am not sure why you and your neighbors steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the best alternative: the 3 acre Karcher Way site that was purchased by the City of Anaheim in 2014 for the express purpose of a homeless shelter. It is paid for, near transit routes, and most importantly in proximity to the greatest homeless population in north Orange County.

    Right now, even as I type these words, REAL homeless people (not government abstractions) have pitched tents and tarps up against the fence to the Karcher site.

    • David Zenger

      “I am not sure why you and your neighbors steadfastly refuse to acknowledge the best alternative: the 3 acre Karcher Way site that was purchased by the City of Anaheim in 2014 for the express purpose of a homeless shelter.”

      Sorry, that was disingenuous. I know exactly why. it’s because your PR flack’s day job is spinning favorable yarns for the majority of Anaheim’s city council. And these drones were told to back off the Karcher Way site. So don’t blame the County, at least not completely. Your predicament was foisted on you by Jordan Brandman and Kris Murray. Remember that when one of them tries running for mayor.

      • mcunningham

        David: yes, you are being disingenuous.

        Your claim that we “steadfastly refuse to acknowledge
        the best alternative: the 3 acre Karcher Way site” is completely false. Also, your claim that any of us have been “told to back off the Karcher Way site” is a total fabrication. The Karcher site is one of the alternatives we have pointed out to the County.

        Your expressed skepticism about the suitability of the 1000
        Kraemer Place site is appreciated. Your uninformed accusations are not.

        • David Zenger

          “The Karcher site is one of the alternatives we have pointed out to the County.”

          Oh really? When and where? So sorry, I sure missed that on your website and in the editorials on this blog – golly, just like the one written by Ms. Armenta, above. I haven’t seen it on your “Anaheim Blog” either. So please excuse my hasty conclusion.

          Well, anyhow, it’s not too late to do it a bit more loudly and publicly, you know. You could do it a little more assertively right here on Voice of OC. I’m sure Norberto would love an editorial submission from you touting the advantages of Karcher Way.

          And while you’re at it, please ask Brandman and Murray and Kring to finish what they started in 2014 when they spent $3,000,000 to buy the Karcher Way site for a homeless shelter, only to ditch it – without explanation – for a truly crappy location.

          • mcunningham

            If you had attended the August community forum we organized and which was attended by hundreds of local residents, you would have seen the Karcher site spotlighted as a potential alternative site, for the obvious reasons – such as the city already owned it and had purchased it for that purpose. That’s one example.

            There’s also the 7-acre parcel the city already owns on Anaheim Way. All the reasons cited for choosing 1000 Kraemer Place pertain to this site, which has the advantage of being larger and already owned by Anaheim. Plus, it’s around the corner from the Salvation Army rehab center.

            And we have found and highlighted an alternative site at the Civic center itself.

            But if we can meet your need to see additional pointing out of the Karcher site as an obvious alternative, then we can oblige if that makes you happy.

          • David Zenger

            Yes, make me happy. Put it on your website. Make me happier and call out Brandman and Murray and Kring on their 180, after they spent $3,000,000 on the Karcher site – for a homeless shelter.

          • mcunningham

            David: you seem to have forgotten the vote to buy the Karcher site was 5-0 – including Mayor Tom Tait.

            From the April 22, 2014 OC Register article regarding building a homeless shelter on the Karcher site:

            “I think the time is now,” Anaheim Mayor Tait said shortly after Tuesday’s City Council workshop on homelessness issues.

            This is from eight months later, in a December 10, 2014 OC Register article:

            “The Karcher property was just a possible option, but I think there are probably better options out there with an existing facility that makes more financial sense,” Tait said.

            Interesting how you steadfastly refuse to “call out” the Mayor on this issue. Shouldn’t you “call out” all councilmembers who voted to acquire the Karcher site for a homeless shelter and then decided against it?

          • David Zenger

            Unfortunately the City Attorney told Tait he can’t involve himself in homeless shelter issues, so Tait is now recusing himself on all things shelter related.

            Fortunately, Kring, Murray and Brandman can easily explain to their constituents out in the Canyon and Riverside why they ditched their original plan and decided (with the County as a front) to locate this project in their neighborhood – if they want to, of course. No one will be holding his breath.

            Somebody has got his greedy eye on that three acres off Karcher Way, plus the seven acres right next to it. Now, I wonder who that might be.

  • Jacki Livingston

    Wow. Want some cheese with that whine? You have not presented a single, legitimate reason why a homeless shelter should not be built there. The location is convenient to a Social Services office, and it is on a major bus line. As the rain and wind has whipped through, last week, you and your whiner friends slept in warm beds, under sound roofs. You act as though every homeless person is a deviant criminal who will do some evil thing to you. Most homeless are people just like you, who had one or more devastating blows, and ended up without that warm bed or sound roof. Many of them are veterans who went to war, defending YOU and your buddies. Now these heroes are out in the cold. You just don’t want to see those dirty, smelly people every day, to remind you of how fortunate you are. NIMBY rears its ugly head, any time a shelter location is proposed. Tell me, what makes you so special? These are human beings, many who put their lives on the line for YOU, lady. I dearly hope you don’t claim to be a Christian, because that would be the cherry on the top of this hypocrite sundae. Shame on you, and your ilk, who have no decency and compassion for those who do not deserve to lie in the cold. I hope you all choke on your lovely Christmas turkeys. I am sick to DEATH of the stupidity and hypocrisy. I hope you never have to know what it is to be truly poor, not to be able to feed yourself or your kids, or to have a roof over your head. You and your band of whiners are exactly what is wrong with this country.

    • Cynthia Ward

      Jacki,
      I don’t read Ms. Armenta’s artcle as opposing the shelter itself, her anger is (rightfully) directed at the astonishing lack of information offered to those who have legitimate concerns regarding impacts. For instance, we know from best practices reports in other locales that an Intake Center has nearly no impact at all, and we have seen the OC Family Justice Center serve women and children fleeing an environment of abuse, without impact to the immediate neighborhood. On the other hand, not even the staunch pro-shelter supporters can argue that lack of impact for a “rescue mission” type shelter with dormitories/human warehouses disgorging occupants every morning to have them hang out all day for fear they won’t be able to return in time to regain one of the few scarce cots one must line up for nightly. So which style of shelter is being proposed is the make or break for many, and the County has been painfully pathetic in releasing that information, information the local taxpayers DESERVE, along with the respect of those whose career is built on spending the taxes they take in from WE THE PEOPLE. That is not whining. By the way, what is wrong with this country is a mixture of name calling replacing reasoned debate, a sense of entitlement that claims the world OWES others when compassion is a voluntary reaction to our fellow human beings, when it becomes mandatory it is no longer compassion it is now socialism.

      I don’t know anyone who doesn’t care about others who cannot feed their kids or put a roof over their family’s heads, that must be a horrid experience, and nobody should have to go through it. But nobody has the right to force government solutions to a very real problem without even minimal participation afforded those residents and business owners impacted. Alleviating suffering by shoving aside someone’s real concerns for their own families just doesn’t seem to be a very American (or Christian) way of doing things. Hopefully we can get to the bottom of EXACTLY what the County wants to do, what impacts may or may not be expected, how they will be mitigated, and frankly WHY the County thinks this location is better than the Karcher property that sits where the homeless already are. And the answer needs to be something other than Jordan Brandman’s BIZARRE fixation for a park expansion that has NO master plan and was never approved by the City Council or the parks commission, but is apparently real enough (in his head) to push the shelter off the location where it would do the most good.

      What is wrong with this country is the elite have chosen to screw over the rank and file residents/taxpayers in favor of their special insiders club, and sadly you may be contributing to it by calling those holding leaders accountable, “whiners,” simply for asking questions.

      • David Zenger

        All good points.

        The residents and neighboring businesses have every right to know what is going on, and at EVERY step of the way these homeless shelter proposals are enshrouded in secrecy, opacity and in outright misinformation by people who are motivated by anything but genuine humanitarian impulses.

        I would be happy to be called a “whiner” if that meant I were pulling back the curtain on the politicians and the professional advocates who seem to be a lot more interested in building a monument to their charitable veneers than in approaching this issue in a smart and economical manner.

        • Jacki Livingston

          The author didn’t talk about the real points. All she whined about was that they were not given enough notice. What are they supposed to do? Go door to door to ask permission? The article didn’t show a smidgen of compassion for the homeless, as the rains and the wind come. They just want enough time for their petitions and bake sales, so they can force yet another plan down the toilet pipes. I have been watching this do nothing county pull this nonsense all my life. The ultimate in selfishness…that is the County of Orange.

          • Cynthia Ward

            Jacki I agree with you that the reaction of all of OC from cities to counties to the citizens (including myself) has been wholly inadequate, and i am ASHAMED that in the midst of this incredible wealth of our community we have people sleeping on the streets. There is no reason for it, and we need to do more and do it now. I don’t know what you think you know of my “record” but you know nothing about me, so please save it for something worth fighting over. We both want the same thing here. What I am very well versed at is community outreach, and while the comparisons seem shallow, stay with me for a minute, because I merely compare the PROCESS not the NEED. Getting a homeless shelter shoehorned into a community should follow exactly the same community outreach process we have to go through when creating a historic district. You don’t wait until the neighbors hear through the grapevine that their area will become a historic district, and they begin making up their own hysterical conclusions about the government telling them what color to paint the house, and now I can never make any changes to my house, etc. At that point panic, rumor, anger, etc take over and there is NO WAY you will ever get that proposal through to completion. The time to inform the neighbors is before you ever begin, you get their feedback, make the plans crystal clear regarding what the proposal is and is NOT, best practices that have been researched and followed and how the proposal helps the neighbors directly, and is not simply something being forced on them. Yes it is time consuming, but laying the ground work beats damage control. In this the County has FAILED miserably. Surprise!

            The County dropped the ball in reaching out to others (and yes you DO go door to door dropping flyers and meeting people face to face, because if you don’t the opposition DOES, as we have seen right here in the Kraemer project) You make sure people understand what you are doing works and your approach solves a problem and is not merely a feel-good band aid. You share the direct advantages to locals in welcoming the shelter, (Homeless people in a shelter down your street are so much better than homeless people living in your alley) This is why the Karcher site made sense, because this is where the homeless already ARE, vs essentially importing them by private bus after rounding them up elsewhere, which was pitched by the OCTA at the one meeting I attended.) You also make sure that they have a contact point at all times, so they never feel abandoned. You do that, and the odds of success skyrocket.

            Sadly NO open public meetings were widely advertised during the Karcher site “consideration” only meetings set up by the special insiders’ club were held, and surprise, before you know it the shelter was moved to Kraemer, AT THE ORDER OF JORDAN BRANDMAN who has made it clear he opposes ANY AND ALL development of that Karcher site area, including the very well received GOALS ACADEMY, because of some fictionalized “master plan” that doesn’t really exist, for the expansion of La Palma Park to enable construction of stadiums for the high school district that the high school district has plainly stated they don’t want, don’t need, and cannot afford.

            People will always panic at the unknown, that is human nature, and to ignore that and then blame those who are merely reacting in precisely the manner we knew they would is unfair. Worse, blaming each other for what is and is not supported does nothing to help the homeless, who are sitting helplessly waiting for us to quit bickering and FIX THIS MESS!

            A) figure out what successful communities are doing, are they using big shelters or small ones? I understand some are moving away from shelters entirely as they are able to use only an intake center and get people directly into housing, but I KNOW OC is not doing that because we lack the housing for placement. But someone needs to show us why a big shelter is the best choice based on something other than a politicians desire for a big building they can put their name on.

            B) Make it clear that officials have heard and understand the reasonable concerns of the local community and show how those concerns are being addressed, with real solutions clearly communicated.

            C) Educate the community so we understand how we are better off for the development of the project and not merely being asked to take one for the team.

            It is not rocket science but sadly the politicians flunked this one, and the victims are those who remain on the streets while we fix what should not have gotten so badly broken.

      • Jacki Livingston

        I used to work at the SSA office which had a shelter across the street, and they had worse problems with locals than they did with the shelter persons. As with other organizations, these type of places use strict rules to prevent these problems. It is a matter of cooperation.

        I don’t have a problem with asking questions. But everytime someone wants to put up a shelter, every neighborhood starts launching their pity party. The fact is, this is one of the wealthiest counties, and we have a deplorable record for helping the poor and homeless. This is often due to local government, which is controlled by special interests (DISNEY…cough….). The largest group of homeless growing in this nation are veterans who suffer from PTSD and other wounds, because they were sent off to yet another failure war built on lies and greed and oil. NOW, everyone wants to forget about them because it is inconvenient. A member of MY FAMILY is burying his young brother, who committed suicide because of his untreated issues and frustration with not being able to regain his footing back at home in a country where people are more concerned about their property values than they do these men and women who put it all on the line for US. So don’t you even DARE try to tell me that my point is invalid, lady. A kid not even thirty shot himself in the head, because his country and their precious citizens don’t give a rat’s patoot about him and his fellow warriors. They are just too inconvenient and not politically advantageous for local do-nothing government.

        Oh, and don’t bleat to me about the elite and the rank and file. I know your record. Puhleeze…don’t even go there. Have you ever really worked with the homeless, the mentally ill or anything like that? I have. The smell knocks you back six feet. We had clients who would defecate on chairs, because they waited eight or nine hours to be seen. I have been on both sides of the desk, and seen the tears in the eyes of a man when I gave him clean socks and a jacket, or a mother when I gave her baby a blanket. Questions are one thing, but they are not really interested in answers. They want to force it somewhere…anywhere…else. Sorry, honey, but I am not going to waste my breath blowing up the balloons for these people’s pity party. I will save my tears for a boy dead too soon, and for all the others left out in the cold by the absolute selfishness of the citizens they served.