Group Threatened With Arrest If They Feed Homeless at Saratoga Park on July 4th

by on July 3, 2014 · 48 comments

in Civil Rights, Economy, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

OB Saratoga condos beachside

UPDATE: No arrests made as volunteers served dozens of homeless and other needy people this  morning at Saratoga Park in OB.

A group that feeds homeless people on every holiday at an Ocean Beach park has been threatened with arrest by police if they go ahead feed the homeless on July 4th.

The group – Second Chances – is a non-profit that works with local churches and homeless advocates.  They feed homeless people in OB every Saturday at the Episcopal Church on Sunset Cliffs and Brighton.  And on major holidays the also feed homeless folks at Saratoga Park down at the beach.  The last holiday they did this was on Memorial Day this year – without hassles.

Yet, one of their organizers, Glyn Franks, told the OB Rag that during a meeting of the OBMA Crime Prevention Committee yesterday, July 2, police alluded to making arrests of anyone feeding homeless at the park on July 4th.  Franks said that he felt threatened with being detained and removed by police if he went ahead.

Franks told us that he and his group, about a dozen volunteers, do plan to go ahead and feed people between 11a.m. and 2 p.m. down at Saratoga Park.  Saratoga Park is the grassy area right in front of the new 3 story condo complex being constructed.

Second Chances has volunteers from a number of local churches, including the OB First Baptist Church, Newbreak Church over on Ebers Street, the Episcopal Church, and the San Diego Rescue Mission.  This is their 19th year in Ocean Beach.

Second Chances also operate medical and legal clinics for needy and homeless.

The OB Rag has a call into Western Division for confirmation.

avatar OBisnotpropertyofthehomeless July 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

Good. The park is not a outdoor restaurant for the homeless.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

Support the troops! Even after the war is over.

avatar objamie July 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

Abhorrent. Pathetic. Disgusting.

I think I will take a bike ride down tomorrow for a little look-see.

This will become national news in a hurry, and another large black eye for the SDPD and the city.

Is this Columbia SC? Tampa Florida? I think not.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 11:35 am

Let’s give the homeless marshmallows!

avatar Tyler July 3, 2014 at 11:46 am

A year ago I was walking my dog by the Episcopal Church while they were feeding the homeless. Not 20 minutes later, 2 of those who were getting a free meal proceeded to defecate behind my car 2 blocks down from the church in the alley. This is just one incident.

It’s a tough issue. You don’t want to hurt the homeless who do nothing wrong and truly need it. But at the same time, I know I’m not the only one sick of these groups like Second Chances creating a magnet for “trollish” homeless types to pillage around our town. I’m not sure I know what the answer is.

avatar Fed Up w abusive lawless Homeless in OB July 3, 2014 at 12:03 pm

We live near the OB Rec Center and Park on Ebers and I can’t tell you how much the Homeless Feeding outreaches are creating HAVOC in our neighborhoods and simply provide an avenue for most all of the recipients to have their sustenance so they can continue to break laws, sleep in our parks, alleys, parking lots, playgrounds while they drink, drug and continue their illegal activities that are destroying our neighborhoods from the beach to the OB Heights.

I know this is a complex issue and as Tyler above noted, those truly in need deserve help and I am compassionate and I do try to help individuals when I can. I donate to several organizations, Father Joe’s, The Center, The Red Cross and organizations that can truly HELP long term, not put a band-aid on their hunger which gives them free reign to continue their addictions and destroy our neighborhoods. All legitimate help missions say do NOT FEED or DONATE directly to Homeless as most have addiction issues that are not being treated and by doing so you CONTINUE and CONTRIBUTE to the problem, making it worse.

Unfortunately a mass/blanket approach to feeding the “masses” only creates a “track of crime and disrespect” as once they’re done they end up drinking, urinating, defacating on lawns, homes, alleys, parks, etc – drinking & drugging right afterwards.

Just last week we chased away 8 different drunks/druggies from the Park at The OB Rec Center with paraphernalia IN THE PLAYGROUND one guy left as we told him we were calling the cops. Another threw a bottle of vodka at us, nearly hitting us in the head and shouted expletives! Really? This is not acceptable!

I think these churches and organizations need to look at the BIG PICTURE and be RESPONSIBLE in their missions and somehow (I know this must be impossible) weed out the habitual drunks/druggies/problem-repeat offenders and not create more problems.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 12:06 pm

Other cities have provided the homeless with portable bathrooms. One city, Salt Lake City, provided the homeless with….homes.

avatar Tyler July 3, 2014 at 12:13 pm

I would love for us who have bathrooms for the homeless but I don’t know who would fund it and how they would enforce/make sure they actually used it.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 12:44 pm

Nobody enforces it in San Francisco, yet the homeless use them. You think homeless people want to defecate out in the open with people watching?

As for the funding, it could come from the money currently spent cleaning up the toxic waste because there are no portable bathrooms.

avatar Tyler July 3, 2014 at 12:48 pm

When I was in SF in April we came across a homeless man passed out in a park bathroom stall with a needle in arm. Maintenance guy exclaims “this shit I have to deal with…”

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 12:55 pm

Being homeless really sucks – so much so that some people, after becoming homeless and losing all hope, turn to narcotics as an escape from their dismal reality.

Then again, perhaps the person you saw wasn’t actually homeless – homeless people have no money, and drugs are expensive.

avatar Seth July 3, 2014 at 4:20 pm

What often happens with feeding them is that they then only need to spare change for their drug or booze money. Get 5-10 dollars a day off tourists and you can get pretty effed up. Pretty much the whole lifestyle for a lot of them in a nutshell.

avatar jupiter jones July 5, 2014 at 9:22 am

I agree with you. Being homeless and a drug addict are not the same thing. Many homeless people do not do drugs and can’t afford them.
Focus on the people causing violence or a public nuisance like passing out with a needle in their arm. They need a different type of help from the homeless.

avatar Seth July 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm

I lived for 3 years near the entrance to Golden Gate Park in SF and have lived at Saratoga and Abbott for the last 7. Between that and a couple of decades experience in Harvard Sq and downtown Boston, I feel pretty qualified to speak on this, and I think you have it exactly right, Tyler.

Complicated issue with no easy solutions. What Salt Lake City does is absolutely not transferable to San Diego. Free housing near the beach in SoCal? Where does that line form? Because I am getting in it.

In SF, they had very humanitarian policies towards the homeless and the only thing it got them was thousands and thousands more homeless people. I saw people defecating in public at least once a week there, among many other nastiness that detracted com the quality of life we all share in.

It doesn’t make you a non-compassionate person to recognize that and not be in favor of it.

Not to say that there are not strategies to help homeless people, most of whom struggle with mental health, addiction and/or trauma issues. There should be more of a national strategy to set up various housing options that have on-site treatment and social services for them, particularly early in the process. But I know what doesn’t work, and that’s giving people a hamburger on the 4th of July and effectively enabling them staying on the streets and not seeking out the services and programs available to help them. That is just a feel good exercise for the giver with NO impact on the recipient.

I have watched Second Chance out there many times feeding people at the beach. They pack up, and the rest of the day the park gets trashed with a bunch of drunk and drugged out people all over the place. At that point, whether they intended it or not or like it or not, they have basically only served to detract from the quality of life in a public space for everyone who lives around there, which isn’t quite neighborly. And again, with no impact whatsoever on addressing or somehow alleviating homelessness.

avatar jupiter jones July 5, 2014 at 9:26 am

Good point Seth.
I agree that dealing with homelessness is a bigger problem than just a simple meal, and, although that may be a kind gesture, may make a bigger problem in the end as you mentioned.
I think the solution starts with discussions like this and then evolves into action and plans. Discussion is good and we should be respectful with each others contributions to this.

avatar Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:39 am

The homelessness issue burst upon OB about 5 years ago. Several community town hall meetings were held; the main complaint from the homeless: lack of restrooms. Nothing has changed since then – except the opening of the Brighton Street restroom, but showers at Robb Field have been turned off. Benches will be moved from our public park because of rich people’s complaints of the homeless.

avatar Johnny July 3, 2014 at 1:08 pm

My question is, why can’t they feed the homeless at the normal location? At the church. Obviously, that park will be packed with families and people camped out, waiting for the fireworks. People go to the park to throw frisbees, play paddle ball, and have a good time. Hate to lump all homeless into one category, but as someone that used to live on that park, these feedings draw a large group of people who choose to treat the park as their own personal dump. Say what you will, but if I had young children, I would not want to be surrounded by this. The courteous thing for this group would be to move it away from the beach. It’s not that difficult…this group just wants to stir up trouble. So what…they don’t get a beach front lunch. The church should be just fine.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 1:38 pm

Presumably, they feed them at the park as a sort of special occasion, something to make their lives a little less miserable for a brief period. It also gives the group visibility, helpful when soliciting donations or volunteers. On the other hand, if in the process they’re making lot of other people’s lives more miserable, well then that’s a problem.

Why does everyone act as if homed people never litter, never use drugs, never harrass other people, never get into fights, never go to the bathroom in inappropriate places? Maybe the last one I can understand, but I’ve seen homed people do all that other stuff.

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 5:33 pm

“It also gives the group visibility, helpful when soliciting donations or volunteers.” Like the circus putting lions in cages so people can gawk at them? See…there they are……hungry lions who need food….please give us your money…..is that the goal of the church to get more donations$$$$?????

They probably bring them to the park so they can do their good deed for the day and not have to chase them out of the church when feeding is done so they can go celebrate with their friends and family for the 4th. Here…..here, OB they are your responsibility now we got to go party.

How about the church renting a motel for the night? Give them a place to sleep, shower, rest and learn how to fill out a job application?

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 5:53 pm

I can’t believe how many people have these foolish ideas about the homeless, like that they can magically get jobs, and somehow get to them and do them for 10 to 14 days with no money until finally they get paid, or that they can just “get over” their mental illness, or that people will hire them when they smell because they have no way to bathe….

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 7:25 pm

Nothing is foolish about suggestion these churches stop having picnics and start teaching these people how to bathe, clean up their appearance, act respectfully, learn to read, fill out an application….Hippie Dippie …..they all aren’t mentally ill. Start with the ones that are just lazy and one by one get them working, contributing to society and taking some responsibility for themselves so they can help others. The picnic parties are not working …….. for the homeless or the community.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 7:36 pm

You cannot just teach them how to bathe, THEY HAVE NO PLACE TO BATHE. They can’t just fill out an application THERE ARE NO JOBS. They aren’t lazy, being homeless is not fun. The ones that are not mentally ill are a tiny percentage of them. They belong in institutions, which is where they were until Raygun caused this problem.

Got it now, OB Dork?

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 7:52 pm

The church can build a shower

Yes, there are jobs….you just have to be willing to work.

SOME ARE lazy

The tiny percentage can go to work

Got it now?

At least you didn’t call me a conservative :-)

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm

There are no jobs. These people have no skill, or some military skill that’s useless in civilian life. Even if they got one, how do they eat, get to work, bathe and have clean clothes for the 14 days or more that it will take for them to get paid?

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

The church, family, group home, etc. can help them until they get paid. That’s what they are suppose to do HELP. One homeless at a time ….. it will give them some pride and self-worth to get to work instead of beg and bum and hang.

I choose to be optimistic about life and have faith that people CAN change if they so choose.

Enjoy your holiday in PB or La Jolla or where ever you choose. Signing off for the weekend.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 10:18 pm

People cannot change being mentally ill or disabled, no matter how optimistic somebody else decides to be about it.

avatar jupiter jones July 5, 2014 at 9:32 am

Good comments Seth and OBDude.
It seems the homeless issue is not something to turn from but part of our community and we have to embrace it. This doesn’t mean we enable bad behavior for they too (if they can) need to try as well and to be confronted about behavior that is a problem (in a respectful way) and start the dialogue. Sometimes people have to pull their act together and other times they are truly helpless to (ie. mental illness). Other times they may be so overwhelmed with the situation its nice to show respect at least in confronting them and making suggestions and hearing their side of the story and experiences.
I also think its not just the role of the church to help those in need. We all as a community need to help out somehow.

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:20 am

No, not “good comments Seth and OB Dude”. Hateful, ignorant comments Seth and OB Dude.

I will not buy into the conservative lie that the homeless are “just lazy”. Their plight is not their fault. Maybe a single meal in a park on a holiday is not enough to help them get out of their situation, but at least it could provide a small bit of relief for a brief period.

Yeah, maybe that park is not the best place to do it. On the other hand, as someone else said, just shoving them off somewhere we can’t see them doesn’t help address the problem. Look at the recent killings in Las Vegas – those people pushed a shopping cart filled with weapons and ammunition 4 miles through downtown Las Vegas, and nobody noticed because it was a shopping cart, and we are all trained not to look at the homeless, because they might make eye contact, and if they make eye contact they might ask you for something.

avatar John July 5, 2014 at 5:49 am

You spout the typical rationale most of the populace has long used to justify turning their backs on the problem, it’s easy when all the chips fall your way most of your life.
When several unplanned negative things hit you at once you’ll find all the hard work and good intentions you’ve given the world won’t be enough, and even your best friends will only be able to offer you lip service.
Or as one of my good friends I and I laugh about, what he did for me when I was jumping off the rock at the foot of Santa Cruz st. and got pushed to the bottom by one, then two, then a third large wave, and I could hold my breath no more and about blacked out:
He stood on the rock above, beer in hand, and yelled “SWIM, SWIM!!!”
I’d never thought of THAT.
I think I have a reason why you won’t find many sane, hard working, sober people like you imagine will easily be reformed, among the truly homeless population. When they take a look around them and see the daunting challenges to getting back on their feet, they opt for the solution Ozzy Osbourne sang about and Kurt Cobain went through with.
Anyway on Monday I’ll officially be homeless for the first time since 1985. Has nothing to do with anything but having a 52 year old body that the military first abused for four years and almost 30 more of working hard thinking only lazy people get homeless. Scoliosis and Sciatica, neither are treatable. You won’t see me at the soup line in the park because standing more than five minutes is impossibly painful. Rents went up, my income didn’t. The harder I worked, the more my body failed. Even though I know a few guys who ended up in a shopping cart by their own doing, I’ve long looked at the homeless and instead of feeling contempt, thought “but for the grace of God and a lot of good luck, go I.”
Since the economy isn’t getting any better and housing is getting out of reach, and I bet you aren’t getting any younger, you might want to adjust that attitude.

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

^ This.

avatar OB Dude July 5, 2014 at 11:09 am

I am sorry to hear of your physical aliments. Do you have family that can assist? You worked for many years, did you plan for old age?

John, does your military service or prior job give you medical benefits so you can get treatment for your conditions? I wish you well and hope that you have family that will help you. In case this may be of interest http://www.hireveterans.com or http://www.wehireheroes.com

I understand that out of a bunch of homeless there are several that can’t make it on their own no matter how much society wishes it would happen. I also know that there are a few that CAN make it but choose not to. I have known them personally. For those, I have no sympathy nor feel any obligation to support their lifestyle and neither do their friends or family….they always have an excuse why they can’t work. Like trying to get a kid to brush their teeth. It’s in their best interest to brush their teeth and if they don’t do it for years their teeth fall out and then they want someone to buy them a set of dentures! There are consequences to actions. For others, programs need to implemented, expanded and get them help. My beef are the lazy ones and yes, they do exist.

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:20 am

The question is how many innocent homeless people do you harm by basing your attitudes about all the homeless on the tiny, tiny minority who could help themselves?

avatar OB Dude July 5, 2014 at 11:32 am

0, zip, zero, nil, nada, none, zippo, zilch

It’s those that choose to be homeless who harm the homeless. Like those that collect SS, welfare, unemployment, WC when they could easily work.

I do not expect you to understand this point of view :-)

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

I also notice you’re victim blaming again. “Did you plan for your old age?”, as if Bush had not stolen the retirement savings of everyone who had them, with his recession.

avatar OB Dude July 5, 2014 at 11:34 am

Blah, Blah, Blah

I work, still working , will be working as I keep getting older, and had my retirement affected just like everyone else.

You do pretty good at blaming also :-)

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 2:14 pm

The church do-gooders should educate the homeless (those that choose to be street people, lazy people that just take hand-outs and have no self pride or those that think working is too much work … I am NOT suggesting physically disabled on mentally challenged) on how to get a job and feed themselves or get them the assistance that is available from many programs. Just feeding them perpetuates their dependency. Eventually they have to grow up and leave home.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 2:20 pm

You realize that 60% nationwide are veterans of our armed forces, and 80% nationwide have mental health issues so severe that they are unable to function normally in society, right? So you know that you are picking out a tiny minority and using that to justify a lack of empathy for the plight of the rest.

avatar OB Dude July 3, 2014 at 3:34 pm

You can have them over for dinner and give them a place to sleep, shower, “sheet” and shave since you love to be empathetic.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 3:52 pm

And when it happens to you, you can sit outside and watch everyone else eat and get clean.

avatar Johnny July 3, 2014 at 3:24 pm

Aging Hippie,

Just wondering where you’re pulling this 60% number from. According to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans (http://nchv.org/index.php/news/media/background_and_statistics/), the number is 12%, while the National Coalition for Homeless, from 2009 (http://www.nationalhomeless.org/factsheets/veterans.html) has the number at 23%. Also wondering where that 80% figure with mental health issues is coming from. Nobody should be homeless, but I’d also like to know the true facts, and would like for you to back up your numbers. Please provide.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 3:50 pm

My college sociology textbook, which I now cannot find. Softcover, mostly red, published by University of Chicago I think.

avatar Seth July 3, 2014 at 4:07 pm

It’s not 6o% of homeless that are veterans. Closer to 25-30% by more reputable studies. Depends on where as well. Still reprehensible, but people should keep in mind that a lot of homeless people falsely self-identify as veterans because it is a better rap to solicit spare change with.

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 9:46 am

I’d forgotten that the book was published before the onset of the Bush Recession, that quadrupled the number of homeless. That might have impacted the percentages that are mentally ill or that are veterans by the huge number of fraudclosure victims that were added.

avatar Aging Hippie July 3, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Why is it so important whether they are veterans or just mentally ill?

avatar Byron July 3, 2014 at 7:24 pm

With all due respect, feeding the homeless on the 4th of July at Saratoga Park doesn’t make any sense.

If a church wants to feed the homeless at their facility, go ahead. The 4th of July will create a large crowds of beach goers. Why create a problem?

I had been a strong supporter of permanent solutions for homeless housing, including funding the Veterans Village on Pacific Highway, Father Joe’s facility, the YWCA Family Shelter on Cortez Hill and purchasing the sprung structures for the winter shelter program.

Byron Wear

Former Councilmember, City of San Diego, District 2

avatar John July 5, 2014 at 6:02 am

There is logic in what you say but consider the homeless problem is one most people just want to wish away. If we deny them the most basic human needs and dignity, a bathroom, a place to wash, water, food, then they will all go to someone else’s city, and be their problem.
Then we won’t have to look at them and can deny funding programs such as you mention with a clear conscience. You know it’s really easy to treat a whole swath of humanity cruelly when you don’t have to look them in the eye, know their name, acknowledge them as a person.
It’s thus probable that these groups have in mind the intent to remind people on the busiest beach day of our community, that there all their wishes didn’t do a damn thing and these people still exist.
You as a policymaker probably couldn’t forget, and I commend you for your record on this. The equation has so many other factors though.
Whether the feeling is hate, compassion, whatever, the result will likely be the phone ringing on Monday downtown, demanding something be done about this.

avatar Frank Gormlie July 5, 2014 at 11:55 am

OB is supposed to be the village of compassion and tolerance but some of these comments by OBceans are downright embarassing. It’s hard to believe that some of our residents can so easily turn to hatred, displaying the attitude ‘well, I got mine, why couldn’t you?’ and suggesting that homeless people just have to “go get a job”. Really?? A so-called progressive OBcean with that kind of attitude has lost their progressive-ism.

Why is it just the OB radicals and real progressives and the churches are the only sources of compassion for the homeless? If we spent all the money used to control the homeless on the homeless, there wouldn’t be so many homeless.

avatar Aging Hippie July 5, 2014 at 12:01 pm

If we stopped “rigging the game” in favor of the rich, there wouldn’t be so many homeless.

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