Trena Bristol: The cost of ‘NIMBYism’
I am a disabled member of your community who happens to be homeless.
Evenings, I car camp at a parking lot. During the days, I patronize your businesses and do a lot of volunteer work.
This new policy of ticketing homeless people is likely going have some unintended consequences. I often see rowdy behavior that could turn into property damage. For example, people like to race around the CVS parking lot in their cars. I also witnessed a drug deal.
In the past, I was more than happy to contact police in the event there was dealing or property damage. I was more than happy to be a witness in the event of a trial. Now, it feels like too much of a risk for me. I could get cited. I believe a lot of car campers feel the same way. You need a policy that doesn’t penalize harmless car campers. We are there in the evening when no one else is there and typically leave in the morning to go about our day.
Also, the people on foot who are being ticketed will just start hiding to avoid the tickets. Over the years, you develop options for when law enforcement gets more punitive. Nothing will change for the businesses complaining. The only thing that will work is to give these homeless people shelter. My experience interacting with them leads me to suspect they are addicted and/or mentally ill. They cannot go to Hospitality House because people who are high or drunk are not allowed.
Why not set up large sturdy tents somewhere? Offer a cot to sleep on, and food. Law enforcement could keep an eye on them from a distance and increase their presence in the chosen place. This should help a lot in avoiding crimes. Counselors could get names and interview them. Police would then be able to find out if there is anyone with a criminal history and if someone routinely engages in criminal behavior other than stealing for drugs or booze.
The alternative is a situation where the people needing the most monitoring and supervision are getting the least. I know of one instance where a cafe employee was sexually assaulted by a homeless man.
Need I mention the huge fire accidentally started by a homeless man who fell asleep with his cigarette lit?
“NIMBYism” costs the entire community in unexpectedly painful ways.
Trena Bristol lives in Grass Valley.
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