Friday, September 15, 2006

For The Love of God, No Bum Camps in Chico

Yesterday I was shocked to see this article in the Chico ER, wherein one of our elected officials is suggesting a "free" campground for bums to leech the city of Chico. I wrote a response to the Editor. I'm not sure that they will publish it, so I am publishing it here as well. We have to stop this kind of insanity before Chico turns into the next Santa Cruz hell hole.

I am appalled that City Councilor Andy Holcombe is an advocate of keeping bums in Chico.

The fact that he is lamenting the beautification and invigoration of our town center is appalling and incomprehensible. Every citizen of Chico should take that as an insult and a personal attack.

With bums (or homeless people, according to the Political Correctness Guidelines) come crime and drugs. It is that simple. Why do people like Mr. Holcombe feel comfortable ignoring that fact? For other examples of California communities who have welcomed vagrants to their own demise, we only need to look south at Santa Cruz, where the downtown area is no longer a place families can go. You can’t walk a block in downtown Santa Cruz without being offered drugs, badgered for money, or harassed in some other way. Keeping and welcoming bums in downtown Chico will certainly take our town down the same path.

Dignity Village in Portland is a colossal failure, and for Mr. Holcombe to cite is as a possible example for Chico to follow should be a wakeup call for every Chico resident. Any interview with Portland Police, and with most elected officials, reads the same way: Dignity Village is a temporary solution to Portland’s massive homelessness problem, and it a failure. Dignity Village is not decent, safe or sanitary. It is a drug-ridden flophouse for people who generally aren’t willing to help themselves.

Mr. Holcombe also idealizes a “free campground” idea. My fellow Chicoans, there is no FREE campground. WE are the ones who pay for these people to destroy our town. We are the ones who give tax money to support societal leeches. Why can places like Carmel keep bums out and nobody blinks, but when Chico shows self preservation and civic pride, we are met with opposition from the inside? How can we let this go unheeded?

Chico is possibly the last quality town in California, and I feel that the residents of Chico need to stand up for Chico. Keeping bums out of our town and our downtown isn’t a crime. It is an act of civic duty; a duty for our community, our children, and our future.


Jeff O. said...

Wow, I know we've talked about this on those long rides, but your passion on this topic really comes across in your letter. I imagine if it goes to print, you'll have stirred up quite a controversy between the save-the-world types and those of us who live in the real world. Looking forward to reading the responses.

Chico Mountain Biker said...

Today's editorial takes the same approach. I believe you'll have a strong advocate in Larry Wahl. His past communication has been that there are several places for the homeless to utilize in Chico already. It will be interesting to see the public outcry / rallying concerning this topic.

Anonymous said...

If this comes to pass, you could always move to Minnesota. For a good chunk of the year, "free camping" in Minneapolis simply isn't an option.

Unknown said...

Isn't there a shelter for the homeless on 23rd St (right off Whitman) across the street from Costco?

-insert homeless person's complaints about shelthers, here-

BTW, I agree with you as we had the Commanche Creek camp just a couple hundred yards from our house. I never was very please about these folks residing in my neighborhood, though other then the mess they left, I never heard about other issues they may have caused.

Gino Zahnd said...

Minnesota! While I have California in my blood at this point, the options are becoming less and less... but don't you guys have like six months of winter? Eek...

Anonymous said...

"...but don't you guys have like six months of winter?"

Not quite six. More like 3, depending on your definition of winter (my definition is based on whether I can wear shorts or not). In my travels, the number of "street people" seems directly proportional to the mildness of the climate. Priorities man.

Anonymous said...

Hi Gino, I sat in on Thursday's Greater Chico Homeless Task Force meeting. I found it awfully suspect that the meeting was held at the Jesus Center from 11am to 1pm. It was neither a neutral site nor was it convenient for the contributing members of society who are working during those 2 hours.
I very much agree with you. Creating a homeless camp in Chico will just invite more homeless to Chico. Most of the homeless are that way because something (whether it be bad luck or mental illness) keeps them from wanting to be part of mainstream society with ethical and common sense rules and structure. That seems to be why some of the homeless choose not to use the Torres Shelter. If a campground were to be established and social structure emerges, we will still be left with all the homeless, including those that journeyed to Chico for the campground, back into the homeless encampments under the bridge, in alleys, Children's Playground, Ringel Park, etc. The problem will only get worse. Reminds me of the movie "Field of Dreams" - "if you build it, they will come."
I just read an article in SFGate that says that there are fewer homeless in San Francisco but other neighboring counties are reporting higher numbers. The gist of the article is that with San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, policies of cutting cash assistance to street people and aggressively moving them into housing with counseling services ("Care Not Cash" program). So if the homeless are not getting cash for their addictions, they leave...interesting...and predictable. If only Andy Holcombe could see past his "do something even if it's wrong" attitude.
An interesting point was made at Thursday's meeting. The Butte County Humane Shelter receives $17,000 a month to house animals but the Torres Center only receives $8500 a year to house humans. Um...duh...animals can't exactly find a home on their own but a human being, top of the food chain and evolution ladder, should be expected to find a home.
Numerous homeless at the Jesus Center spoke on why they should have a homeless camp. Nearly every one prefaced with some story of how they became homeless. After a number of stories, it became more and more evident to me that these were all excuses, some reason to hide, psychological crutches as to why they cannot become a contributing member of society.
My belief is, for the good of "Greater Chico", we need to make this an undesirable place for homeless to camp. Another blog I read concerning the homeless in Chico ( states that it is well-known that the cities of Oroville, Redding, Chico, and San Francisco are desirable places for the homeless.
I guess that's enough ranting. I just wanted to share some insight on my attendance at the meeting.
Oh but before I go, I guess I need to share my credentials. I've been a resident of Chico for the past 22 years. I have a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from CSU, Chico with my concentration on Social Psychology. For the past 14 years, I've worked in the Public Safety field.
On a final note, instead of relying on public outcry or rallying, perhaps we need to form a task force in opposition to a homeless camp in Chico. We also need to make a presence at the meetings of the Greater Chico Homeless Task Force. We cannot let Andy Holcombe and the homeless decide the fate of Chico.