Yesterday afternoon just shortly after 1:00 PM the majority of the homeless makeshift "camps" here in San Luis Obispo received visitors.
No, the visits weren’t from the organizations or agencies that are supposed to the help the homeless. Neither were the visits from philanthropic organizations who thought to seek enough data to put together a genuine plan to restore the homeless back into society and thus reducing the numbers of homeless on the streets.
The visits were from the "authorities."
While the homeless were out and about engaged in the basic necessity of trying to survive, the majority of camps were "tagged." What this means in layman’s terms is that, by order of Deborah Linden, the Chief of the SLO Police Department, the homeless were ordered to remove their belongings from the "premises" where they currently are located. In short, what the homeless were given was an eviction notice.
The "notice" goes on further to say that if their belongings are not removed that the homeless person could be arrested and their belongings "seized" and, that they would also be prosecuted for:
"…abandoning of the belonging by the District Attorney, if left on private property, or the San Luis Obispo City Attorney, if left on City property."
Over the last month and a half, these notices have been given several times. The homeless usually pack up and just move somewhere else. It’s become almost routine – until yesterday that is. Not only did the camps get "tagged" but the person(s) who were posting these notices actually took it upon themselves to "break down" some of the tents. As a result, some of the tents were actually damaged beyond repair.
Is it me, or is this a type of "legal" vandalism?
I can understand that the police and the park rangers are required to do their jobs. But is it their job to destroy a persons private property BEFORE that person has a chance to remove it?
The reason all of this posting of notices are nothing more than a lame attempt to coerce the homeless into the leaving the area. Yet, it doesn’t, nor has it ever, achieved the desired results. All it has ever really done is further displace those who are already displaced.
The reality is that most of these "camps" are in unobtrusive locations in the first place. Forcing the homeless to pack up and have to find another place to "camp" doesn’t make them leave the area, it just shuffles them around.
If anything, with more and more people becoming homeless, the numbers of homeless in this area has grown. There are most definitely more homeless now than there were two years ago at this time.
Since the homeless shelter doesn’t have enough beds to accommodate all of them, it would be safe to conclude that those homeless who can’t get into the shelter will be looking for a place to sleep. That’s just plain logic.
Unfortunately, neither the SLO County Board of Supervisors, the SLO City Council or the Police Departments seem to be using common sense. They are all using a type of "chop shop logic" when it comes to how they deal with the homeless.
All of their ordinances, police harassment of the homeless, anti-loitering laws, and etcetera have not done one iota to reduce the numbers of homeless in this area. But I don’t see how in the world they actually expected that it would. The only real effect that all of these "laws" have served to accomplish is to make it more difficult for those homeless who want to get ahead to do so.
Don’t get me wrong. I can understand that City wanting to reduce the "visibility" of the homeless in this area – after all, tourism is one of the economic mainstays here.
But it seems to me that it would be better served for the City to allow these homeless to remain camped in the out laying areas were the tourists can’t see the homeless. By continuing to force the homeless to have to keep moving from their camps to other locations, the only thing that will eventually happen is that the homeless will finally stop looking for out of the way places to sleep – and they’re going to end up sleeping in the doorways of downtown businesses.
If they local government were really using as smart and shrewd as they like to believe they are they’d realize the inevitability of what they are going to be responsible for creating by continuing to "roust" the homeless from their camps. And, if they aren’t able to clearly visualize the future of SLO, I suggest they take a good look at downtown Los Angeles.
That’s the coming attraction if they foolishly continue believe that forcing the homeless to keep shuffling about is the solution.