Anger and Compassion Shown at Point Loma Library Meeting on Homeless Issues (Without the Homeless)

by on July 11, 2014 · 15 comments

in Civil Rights, Culture, Economy, Homelessness, Ocean Beach, Organizing

Pt Loma library2In what was billed as Councilman Ed Harris‘ “Homeless Issues Meeting”, at the Point Loma library last night, July 10, at a standing-room only crowd, angry OB and Pt Loma residents and a few businesspeople met up with folks who serve the homeless and who displayed more compassion for the less fortunate.  And apparently, there were no homeless people present.

The meeting – which Harris also did not attend – generated different accounts (the OB Rag did not have a reporter present) and Councilman Harris had to depart 20 minutes into the meeting.

OB Jess reported the following:

When I went to the forum on the homeless last night I wasn’t sure what I was getting into, I just wanted to go and listen to all the different concerns of my neighbors and my community. It started at 5:30 so I only caught the last 45 minutes but that’s when community members spoke and that was who I most wanted to hear from.

There were OB (and Pt. Loma) residents, people who work and own businesses in the midway district and people who work with the homeless offering services. I fall into all 3 of those categories (I do not presently work in social services but in the decade where i did most of my work was with the homeless populations in Colorado and San Diego) so I found myself nodding my head or clapping for just about everyone, even if their visions and ideas did not quite match.

The issues of homelessness is complex, there were at least 5 different “types” of homeless persons described by various folks and varying ideas on how the situation should be managed. There will be more meetings and the spokeswoman from the office of Councilman Harris said she hopes people will come back with ideas and get involved in the process so if this topic is important to you, come get involved! I never would have know if not for this blurb and I’m very glad that I went. Most of the people who spoke made valid, well thought out points, even when I did not agree with them!

However, SanDiego6 had a different take on it:

Anger over what some see as the increasing problem of homelessness in Ocean Beach came to a head at a meeting Thursday night in Point Loma. …

Ocean Beach, which just down the road, may be known for its laid-back attitude, but some residents say it’s time to get tough on the problem of homelessness.

OB resident Shelley Guererro was reported to say:

“I’ve had to replace five different gates and three different locks because I’m in a war against these people,” said . “I’ve felt threatened, and it’s hard when the police can’t help you, and nobody seems to be able to help you, and there are people coming, living around your house and they’re dropping their clothes.”

One business owner, Hudi Eshel of Embargo Grill, stated:

“You’re solving the problem downtown, do you know where your problem is going? Your problem is coming here.”

Local lawyer and surfer Craig Klein had this to say:

“Although the people who are doing the feedings are very well intentioned, (there’s) some guy sitting on the seawall doing a big bong hit and then food appears right next to him.”

Channel 8News reported:

Embargo Grill owner in Point Loma says he found a homeless man drinking a handle of liquor on his patio at lunch time. When he arrives in the morning he finds homeless people are leaving a mess in the back parking lot.  “Two days ago there were condoms, there was feces on the floor, toilet paper was all over the parking lot,” said Hudi Eshel.

Families and business owners say they are done venting and done taking care of the homeless problem themselves and they want the city step up.

More compassion for the homeless was also shown.  CBS8 stated:

A Point Loma resident stood up at the meeting and acknowledged the homeless problem but says he doesn’t feel threatened.  “It’s a free country they are allowed to live where they want and do what they want more or less,” said a man who only gave the name “Ed.”

Homeless advocates and reps from agencies were also there. CBS8 reported:

“… homeless resources such as Connections Housing, San Diego County Department of Mental Health, Regional Task Force for Homeless and San Diego Housing Commission spoke about the homeless problem and what they are doing to resolve the issues in San Diego.

Tom Theisen from the Regional Task Force for Homelessness says 25 percent of the homeless population want to help themselves, “I tell you folks there are homeless people coming to San Diego everyday.”

SanDiego6 added:

Jeffrey Sitcov said he understands people’s frustration, but if anyone is ever going to really solve the homeless issue, it has to start with young people. City statistics indicate there are a few thousand homeless people between the ages of 12 and 24 in San Diego.

“These kids are homeless mostly not by choice,” Sitcove said. “They don’t want to be homeless. Their parents are drug addicts, their parents are in prison.”

Sitcov founded a group called Photo Charity that matches up homeless youth with musical instruments or art supplies.  He said that helps them build trust and eventually makes it easier to rescue the kids from homelessness, perhaps not a solution, but a start.

So, once again OB and Point Loma have community forums on the homeless – and once again the meeting was held without any actual homeless people present. And once again, the angry ones got to have their say, and once again public and government reps offered their condolences and views.

The advocates and the agency folks could be expected to offer some compassion and they reportedly did, but again – they were quoted as opining that homeless people should not be fed at Saratoga Park or the OB seawall at the food of Newport Avenue.  This flies in the face of what local groups believe and do in serving houseless people at the beach, such as Second Chances who hosted a BBQ for the homeless in Saratoga Park on July 4th without a hitch.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar Danielle July 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

I spoke at that meeting asking the experts how an individual community member could help this situation. No medium of media has reported the positive parts of this meeting, only the angry peoples point of view. Tragically that is what will thus be remembered and will be a continued focus. There were some good ideas and resources presented, I think most people just tuned out and waited till they could complain and point fingers. Don’t ask what your community can do for you but what you can do for your community!

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avatar Tyler July 11, 2014 at 12:08 pm

“It’s a free country they are allowed to live where they want and do what they want more or less,” said a man who only gave the name “Ed.”

That’s some wonderful delusion right there. Just yesterday two “homeless” trolls were casing my alley and nearly found there way into a nice little burglary if not for a watchful neighbor. Their photos are posted on the Crime Watch FB group.

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avatar Johnny July 11, 2014 at 12:21 pm

I agree, Tyler. That quote from “Ed” is absolutely ridiculous. It’s this line of thinking that makes some homeless act as if they are above the law. If I drank a bottle of booze out in the open on Newport, smoked a cigarette on the beach, or slept overnight on the beach, I’d get a ticket. Lots of these homeless “travelers” do whatever the heck they want because nobody does anything about it. No tickets. No warnings. Just a free-for-all.

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avatar Marc Snelling July 11, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Ha! Like anyone who is homeless cares about yours, Ed’s or anyone else’s line of thinking. I think Ed was just trying to make the point that being homeless in and of itself is not a crime.

Of course people who are homeless commit crimes, so do people who have homes. What people seem to ignore is how vulnerable to crime people are on the street. You can get your head kicked in or even murdered when you live on the street and get little to no attention from the police.

Lots of people drink alcohol in public, sleep on the beach and smoke cigs on the beach, (homeless or not) and don’t get tickets. Stop wasting time with hypothetical ‘ifs’ and talk about an actual experience..

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avatar John Kitchin July 13, 2014 at 9:53 pm

You get an “A” in your analysis. I teach a college course in SAN DIEGO homelessness. Dr. John Kitchin

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avatar Frank Gormlie July 14, 2014 at 11:03 am

I’m sure more crimes are committed by people who live in houses than by people who are homeless. In fact, the biggest crimes are often by those who live in suites.

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avatar Danielle July 11, 2014 at 12:31 pm

The man who said that also referred to some of the homeless as “retards” and said there should be a park we can all put them in where they can be monitored. I have yet to see this “free-for-all”. Most of the time when I call the police it is because of regular drunk people (not homeless) pissing on private property and trying to bother people in their residential homes, the police have always come and helped. Who are the “nobodies” who do nothing about it, I saw a lot of people doing a lot last night at the meeting who are putting forth a lot of effort into helping this issue.

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avatar OB Jess July 11, 2014 at 12:51 pm

If “Ed” is who I think he was then that line was taken from kind of a long rant and slightly out of context, but I’m not sure.

I caught the end of a policewomen speaking and I may not get this completely correct but if I understood what she was saying, there is a law or rule that before they arrest a homeless person they have to offer them a bed (again, it was the end of her talk and i may not get this 100% correct). When it’s late at night they cannot always get a person on the phone to see if beds are available and it limits what they can do in the situation.

She also said that there are 2 judges that handle homeless cases, one who is very “they have to have somewhere to go-throw it out” in response to homeless related tickets and one who asks the right questions “did the officer offer you services?” and when they respond “yes but …” the judge gives a consequence. Part of the problem is that there is no room in jail and these people have no money to pay fines so in one situation the judge ordered that the woman do community service in the area where she caused the problem. So, you can see there are inconsistencies with how situations are handled and word gets around. People stated that the downtown situation is being dumped in midway/ocean beach and that we need services. Most of the services offered are downtown and there was a big plea from the those in attendance to a “25 cities” program to come to district 2. I’m not sure the details of this program (I must have missed that speaker) but it seems to be helping in areas where it was piloted.

This situation will not be handled overnight. People argue that the feeding in the park and sea wall make it comfortable for the homeless and that food should be offered away from the beach and paired with a service. This sounds good but the hang up there is that homeless people are often distrusting of service providers and not as likely to show up. Building rapport takes time and offering these meals to people where they are at is often a first step in building rapport. I wonder if along with these meals they can be provided a card with the information on how to get hooked up with “211” for further services or the information on the office of the organization providing the meal where they can go with help for additional services…not all would accept at first but at least when they are ready they have the info.

The bottom line is we have homeless people and no homes, we need permanent supportive housing but we don’t have enough. I think that building rapport with this community while we figure out how to get more beds in San Diego (which it sounds like people are working on) is an option to consider. We can’t just throw people in jail and that costs tax payers more money anyway. We’ve seen that pushing people out of downtown just moved them somewhere else so pushing people out of OB will not solve the issue.

The police officer who spoke stayed and heard the safety concerns of residents and business owners, the people who spoke really hammered home that fact that OB/Point Loma/Midway needs homeless services and police support for incidents where residents are made to feel unsafe. I’m *hoping* that these concerns will be heard and changes (thought they may be slow) will come.

I signed up for the email list and I’m happy to let the Rag know what gets sent out and when the next discussion is. The more residents and community members who show up with ideas the more voices that will be heard.

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avatar John Kitchin July 13, 2014 at 9:56 pm

The homeless publish 2 newspapers dealing with help, and have their own Search Engine website at http://www.NZ9F.com.

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avatar Brent Beltran July 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm

The city does poorly when it comes to mitigating the issues related to homelessness. Barrio Logan has been inundated with homeless people due to the temporary shelter being located here and by having other shelters a block away in East Village. The city needs to provide more services to help get them off the streets. At minimum they need to mitigate some of the problems homeless people cause in communities they choose to find shelter in. I’m not holding my breath though.

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avatar John Kitchin July 13, 2014 at 9:50 pm

I guess I missed another meeting because no one informed me it was happening. I am the principal representative of the San Diego County homeless, and was a Police Detective for 8 years, and now homeless for 7.5 years, so I understand. The last meeting I attended in OB, dealing with the use of the word “bums” on The Black bumper stickers, years ago, went well, except that I was beaten up on the way home, along with 2 others. So, one would think I learned something, right? I learned that there are a huge number of lies being told by both sides. I teach a college course in homelessness in San Diego, and you can read it and even take a college exam at http://www.NZ9F.com/303. Or, if you prefer, the last 3 issues of the San Diego Homeless News, http://www.NZ9F.com/SDHN are stunning. Dr. John Kitchin, Ph.D., NZ9F

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avatar Johnny July 13, 2014 at 10:53 pm

“Show Your Homeless Pride.” ??? What?

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avatar John Kitchin July 14, 2014 at 10:54 am

Homeless are discriminated against like they were a second-class race or religion, so naturally we need to develop pride against all that discrimination. Did you know that most homeless cannot rent housing because of having a history of being homeless? How do we ever get an apartment again? Absolutely NO LAW against that. Yes, Homeless Pride.

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avatar editordude July 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm

We made a correction: Councilman Harris had to leave 20 minutes early; we had stated that he was not present at all.

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avatar DonCharly July 16, 2014 at 8:02 am

The Homeless ARE a problem, and the city together with those residents, and organizations ought to be helping a lot more. How do most residents help? By giving the most supportive lip service in these meetings, because most do not DO anything about it, while just a FEW do a lot.

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