Let’s start this with definitions:
1. Transients: passing through or by a place with only a brief stay or sojourn.
2. Vagrants: a person who has no place to live and no job and who asks people for money; and one who has no established residence and wanders idly from place to place without lawful or visible means of support.
3. Homeless: having no home or permanent place of residence.
We are responsible for a 30-plus acre property with a home and a pool just off Brunswick. It’s a beautiful place and close, in town. Sounds ideal, right?
Well, a number of vagrants call this their home. They have started two fires on the property in the past two months.
The Hospitality House is wonderful and is available to help people. But they have requirements. You have to show ID to make sure you have no warrants; be there by 4 p.m.; and test to be sure you’re not intoxicated. This is what I mean by choice — these people are choosing to live on our property illegally instead of living in the arrangements provided for them. Why? Perhaps because cannot meet the Hospitality House criteria or would rather camp out illegally on our property than live clean lives and utilize the support our community provides for them. I am told these particular transients call this wonderful facility “Hostility House.” Why? Because there are rules? Because you must be courteous to the other people who also live there? Could it be because they choose to reject honest values?
We have to periodically give them the standard 24-hour notice to remove their junk, call the sheriff and then spend our time walking down the side of the south-facing hill and remove everything they have left behind. We have to take down their tents and pick up their garbage. Here is the best part: We have to clean up their human excrement on top of the ground immediately outside their tents. Our own dogs know enough not to poop where they sleep!
We have just rented the home and property to a new family. These vagrant trespassers are now boldly entering the area around the house and stealing shovels and other items. A month ago, I walked the property with Trevor, from the Outreach Program at Hospitality House. The first vagrant we encountered told me if I were to leave garbage bags in the trees, he would clean up the garbage. The second trespassing vagrant said he too would be happy to pick up garbage for $15 per hour! The same garbage they were both leaving there! Are they kidding? This is private property … maybe I should pay for Porta-potties also?
We hang “No Trespassing” signs all the time, and they immediately take them down. We haul away the tents and trash. They come back with more. They take out fences and cut down trees.
If this were not enough? We have a huge safety concern regarding fire. These homeless are accessing our property from Sutton and Plaza drives. Fire on this property puts the renters and the surrounding businesses in danger since the home is so close in town. We are in a drought, and the dry pine needles are thick on the property. On Friday, these “poor” vagrants set a fire that grew to a quarter of an acre. We interrupted our weekend to rush out and help the renters, the fire department is called, and while we are putting the fire out, we find a couch! This is getting beyond ridiculous. Fire hazard. Theft. Illegal presence on private property. Unsanitary. And a complete and total lack of respect for other people and the law. I do not feel sorry for these transients and vagrants, whatsoever. And neither should you. The property owners pay their taxes, we pay ours, and the transients don’t have taxes.
What is the solution? The sheriff’s department comes when we call. The wily vagrants leave when they hear us approach. Oh, they have dogs that don’t like “uniforms.” Does that mean they don’t like our military people, too?
Next time you decide to give the grizzled man some spare change or the woman with the dog some money, think about where your dollars are going. They are contributing to the huge pile of wine bottles, large beer cans and trash on private property, which is just adding fuel to the fire.
Lindsay Marich lives in Grass Valley.
Fire hazard. Theft. Illegal presence on private property. Unsanitary. And a complete and total lack of respect for other people and the law. I do not feel sorry for these transients and vagrants, whatsoever. And neither should you.