• Michael Sanches

    Homelessness has been around forever in this country and is not going away. It is only now seen as a stigma. In the past we have had gypsies, mountain men, wagon trains, even cowboys on horseback with their bedrolls. And, don’t forget the Native Americans who were essentially living the nomad lifestyle. Some live this way out of necessity and some live this way out of choice.

    The county has a right to dictate places the homeless cannot set up camp. I don’t blame people not wanting to smell walls of urine or taking their kids to parks where the homeless hang out. However, in return, the county is obligated to have open areas where camps can be set up. Like a park, they should provide some port-a-potties and trash cans. A water spigot would be nice, too. Dog parks have them. Such places would not only be for bed rolls and/or tents, but people living in their cars, too. We have a huge River channel running through our county that is good enough for golf courses for rich people. Why not a few homeless areas up and down the riverbed? It can be cleared during flood times and it can be patrolled by the local cops. I’m sure there are other vacant areas that can hold camps. Places get foreclosed on all the time. We also have the Santa Ana mountains on the east edge of the county that has a lot of open space. Some can be roped/fenced off for the homeless. Even Anaheim Hills has a lot of open space. Having various spaces around the county would allow people to stay connected to families, schools, work, churches, and other local activities that help them.

    Having the homeless concentrated in 12- 24 such areas around the county would also help volunteers have access to them to help them. With such areas in place, police, speaking for the people, could demand that the homeless not camp in inappropriate spots such as the Civic Center, parks, etc. Such areas would also be safe for the homeless since they could be patrolled by the host city. And, if someone is camped in an inappropriate spot or found sleeping in their car, they could be directed to the nearest such safe public homeless area.

    We seem to think the best thing to do is nothing until we can get apartments for all the homeless. Meanwhile, they rot away. Even the new center in Anaheim is not a solution. I volunteered in the Midwest and there are:

    1. Many who have mental problems and will be screwed by society until we give the notion that they have a right to suffer.
    2. Many who simply prefer the homeless lifestyle and will not partake of any “solutions.”
    3. Many who have drug/alcohol problems and will be evicted from homeless shelters and programs.

    With homeless areas set aside for them and a minimum of facilities (port-a-potties and trash cans) and safety, at least they won’t rot away and will have a chance to eventually turn their lives around, or at least be safe. We owe them at least that much. And, it is doable. And, it is doable, now.

  • SantaAnaIsBroke

    It is not just Supervisors with poor actions. The City of Santa Ana has done little as well. In fact, they just gave $10 million total, at the April 19th and May3rd CC meetings with city funds and vouchers, to the firm which employees a former Planning Commissioner and who is a Cal Berkeley buddy of Councilmember Sarmiento. This money was for only 69 affordable units which because they are income restricted, no homeless person would be eligible for. To get this housing money, Santa Ana agreed to let another developer put 1200 units of housing right under the John Wayne flight path. The affordable units BTW are being placed in an area that even Sarmiento said is “high crime area”. Yep, put all the poor people next to even more poor people. This goes against current research that shows placing affordable housing in bad areas hurts those residents in the subsidized housing more than helps the neighborhood. But Santa Ana City Council is not exactly bright enough to legislate through intelligent research based policy:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/05/opinion/where-should-a-poor-family-live.html

    So Santa Ana will end up with another bad development in a bad area while homelessness increases. How much could be done to alleviate the Civic Center issues with $10 million?

  • Jacki Livingston

    I resent the implication that homelessness equals lawlessness. A few bad apples, breaking the law, acting out. No different than any group, you will have the good, the bad and the downright ugly. The county could have installed portable bathrooms a long time ago. The county pays a huge amount for sheriffs to protect the public buildings. You know where I used to see them? Yeah, sitting on their cellphones or a computer, doing personal stuff. Law breakers should be arrested and punished. They should be slapped with a restraining order that says they cannot come back. This isn’t rocket science. The fact is, good people who are homeless are in need of law enforcement protection by the removal and arrest of law breakers. As to jurors? Put on your big girl/boy Underoos and do your civic duty. I have been down there many times for court, for Grand Jury and other business. It isn’t some horrible and unsafe place. There are some solutions, but you will never see them, because the BoS and agency heads like Ryan at SSA have not figured out how to get some goodies from the feds for this. It is such a joke. Oh, and a large number of those folks are classified as “disabled” and get County payout money that can be stopped if they break the law. Bust a few, ban them from 500 around the center and you will see some changes.

  • George Shaw

    Well, I think homelessness in Orange County and the homeless settlement at the Civic Center are two different, albeit related, issues. Perhaps they hope that by establishing a shelter some distance away, the encampment will relocate. If that is the case, I am very, very skeptical. Many factors enter into the equation that determines where homeless people spend time and, more to the point, the homeless population at the Civic Center is a fraction of the homeless population in the area.
    With that said, I think a shelter close to the Civic Center would make more sense to ameliorate that particular issue. At the very least it would provide a better base for operations and a place to go to the bathroom and wash-up. But what is really needed is case workers to go into the encampment, onto the riverbeds, and connect people with beefed up services… temporary housing, psychiatric care, addiction counseling, job placement… rehabilitation. To this end, counselors should also reach out to families and non-governmental organizations, such as churches and charities. Obviously, this will require a lot of money, money that will, to some extent, need to be redirected from other public safety institutions. And good luck with that! Moreover, law enforcement should NOT be the ones engaging with the homeless and mentally ill. They are not equipped, in any sense of the word, to deal with these communities in a manner that reflects society’s values. And they probably don’t like it because it is not what they signed up for…
    And speaking of values, I do not think that the lack of a speedy solution is attributable to conservative ideology. I think it is the result of a cultural milieu within the county establishment that, despite political pretenses, stubbornly rejects the influx of empathy into the electorate. The people running the show do not reflect the increasing empathetic people they represent. This may be because they find their support in special interests and grievance agitators or it could be that the older generation (significantly less empathetic than the people coming of age today) pass the baton and empowers like minded younger people who are like minded and/or have been groomed away from trends of empathy. (I do not mean to suggest that age is a determinate for one’s empathy) Either way, the result is a minority ruling class that is insulated from the values of a community.
    To put it simply. Despite changing attitudes among the public, lack of empathy is entrenched at the top. They just don’t get it. When I write empathetic, they read pathetic. Popular values will eventually find their way to the halls of power in Orange County, probably in something like 10 to 15 years when we start to see a serious demographic shift to Millennials.

    • Kathleen Tahilramani

      Very interesting read. Well stated. Thank you!

    • Jacki Livingston

      Clearly you do not understand SSA. You think that case workers who do approvals of benefits are “social workers”. They are not. Further, downtown Santa Ana is the worst place, since SSA packed up their little red wagons and moved to a very luxurious building in Anaheim, near the Angels Stadium. There is no welfare office in downtown Santa Ana. Period.

      Case workers make about 25 bucks an hour. You want them to go into a population that consists of sick, filthy, mentally ill and even criminal felons, and spend all day trying to get any information, ID, records, verifications…are you kidding? Social Workers, who are paid three times that, are not viable. It is like throwing gas on a fire. If I ruled the world, I would buy the bus station, and several store buildings across the street. Inside, I would have a laudremat, pet care, social workers, food pantry, clothing distribution from partnering with manufacturers, computer banks, phone set up and mail boxes. You have to begin at the beginning. Beauticians could do community service, people could work off their probation service….it would work. But the county doesn’t want common sense. They want magical unicorns fluffing fairy dust. From the ground up, you have to make sweeping change. Partnerships with companies like Tide, Levi, Hanes and more could help people get clean, feel better and working towards a brighter day.

  • Kathleen Tahilramani

    I worked for years at and around the Civic Center. This is not a new problem. Employees have complained for years and years. Yes, there have been incidents of employees being harassed and harmed. Bottom line: The Board of Supervisors past and present could care less about the difficulty that employees face day in and day out working at in and around the Civic Center. In my experience, I was never bothered by any of the homeless folks – never. I treated them with respect and they returned the same respect.I can’t say the same for the Board and numerous past and present highly placed county staff.

    • Jacki Livingston

      Well stated. *applause*

  • LFOldTimer

    My guess this is probably a prelude to attempt a ban on the unwashed population from congregating around the county seat of government. Has there been even one report of a homeless person causing harm to a juror? And asking for a quarter is not a harmful event. But those from the burbs rarely see the underbelly of our society and it probably makes them feel uncomfortable. So what?

    If the homeless population was a dangerous menace the county employees (who probably outnumber the jurors by more than 20 to 1) would have demanded security escorts upon arrival and departure from work.

    The growing homeless population just reminds people who have homes and jobs just how badly our society is deteriorating. It likely conjures up lots of emotions inside that most people would rather avoid.

    My belief is that the Kraemer Place shelter will be a catalyst for the Supervisors to eventually place restrictions on homeless people loitering in view of the elite and those entering the government buildings.

    Move the problem to Anaheim. Convenient.

    Out of sight, out of mind.

    Final solution? Ban the homeless from occupying County seat of government land. They did it to the Occupy Wall Street crowd. What makes you think they can’t do it to the politically impotent?

    Wait for it.

    • Fire Power

      Let’s hope they do and stop dragging their feet.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Orange County is the most wealthy County in the USA? Look at it! Walk around to all the County-leased buildings. It is ghetto. This is what a third world disease epidemic smells like.

    This is what corruption by government officials looks like. Look at them! All their staff are double-triple dipping too- taking the money but not doing any work that benefits the public!

    The Individuals in power have pocketed and diverted the tax dollars supposed to go to infrastructure and services for the public. This isn’t a case where there’s no tax base so Where is the money?

    Thank you to the taxpayer who addressed the BOS about the conditions and the run-around she got -OC style. It is outrageous.

    My experience working in OC definitely shook my faith in government.

    • UnitedWeStand

      The people in charge of “government” in Orange County are all Conservatives, 98%. Need I say more?

      • LFOldTimer

        Let’s not make a party specific issue out of this. The democrats talk a good game. But their actions are no better. Look at any city/county with democrats in charge. You would see the same problem – sometimes even worse. Not defending republicans. Just relating an observation. The entire political system is broken.

      • OCservant_Leader

        Agreed. Ideologically-Conservatives hate government and don’t believe government should be providing human services.

        Their only interest is themselves. The BOS’s parking garage and offices are a fortress. The Civic Center disaster does not impact them.

        They look out on the masses from their offices- With a gratifying grin. They are there to fill their pockets full of tax dollars and escape to their gated communities. Winning!

    • Jacki Livingston

      *standing ovation*