Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

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By Ernie Salomon

Upper State Street Motel May Rent All Rooms to Homeless: After Loma Fire Scare, City Council Considering Drastic Action to Clear out Encampments

The four-month plan at the Rose Garden Inn ― expected to cost the city between $1.6 million to $2 million ― would provide emergency lodging, food, transportation, and services for as many as 50 people now living on the streets. |

Why didn't I think of this?  What a great idea and cost effective as well!

If I am more proficient in math than over 50% of our local school children, then this brilliant plan will only cost local taxpayers $40,000 or more, per person for only four months; $10,000 or more, per person, per month!

Is this how the hard earned tax dollars of our local working people should be spent?

I will wager the city council that all expense paid vacations including airfare, hotel and food are available for much less than $10,000 per person, per month.

The cruise industry is trying to recover and I am positive that month long  cruises are available for $10,000 per person, or less.  Why put these people up in a crummy motel when our City Council can provide them with luxury for less?

Have you even thought about asking those homeless who can work, to earn money for their food, shelter and clothing?

This program covers only 50 people out of the hundreds of homeless people we have on our streets.

What happens to the people who are in the motel after four months?  Do they get thrown out onto the streets of Santa Barbara again?

If this plan is put into effect, then every member of the Santa Barbara City Council should be recalled.   I will initiate the recall myself with as much help and money that is needed! 


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Ahchooo Jun 29, 2021 11:09 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Ernie I understand your point. But give us some practical solutions. Sending the homeless on all-expense paid vacations sounds cute, and might actually work for some. But some of the homeless do have jobs and can’t just leave. Others are too messed up to manage a cruise, or whatever. I’d like to see some simple dorm-like dwellings built for temporary housing. Something a bit better than a cot in a warehouse, but not as pricy as apartments or hotel room. But that’s a pipe dream—building hundreds of units instantly. Aren’t they investigating setting up a campground of sorts in a parking lot somewhere?

CoastWatch Jun 29, 2021 11:12 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I can build an operational TENT CITY in New Cuyama for 2 Million, including U-Haul truck rentals to transport these vagrants to paradise.

a-1625004059 Jun 29, 2021 03:00 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

You just don't get it, do you. Forcing folks to do what is palatable for you but objectionable as hell to them is NOT going to change any hearts and minds. Unless your tent city is surrounded by barbed wire and armed guard towers these people are just going to exercise their American freedom/liberty to do what the futch they want. They ain't no different from you, after all (want all the freedom they can muster without any of the costs/consequences associated with it).

letmego Jun 29, 2021 05:44 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

With air conditioning too? Because, air conditioning tents in the desert is not cheap.

Byzantium Jun 29, 2021 05:49 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

3:00 -- they are "different from us" because they are making us pay for their failed lifestyles. We are done paying for their lifestyles because they have rotted this town to the core from within. It's over. Stop acting like there is not already a huge welfare system for people that we are already paying for. These are the grifters and the con artists who have gamed the system and side-stepped every program offered handed to them. Done with this con game. Yes, barbed wired and barracks - just like any other displaced persons encampment. Good enough for our GI's. They have absolutely no freedom or liberty rights to destroy and take everything we value. They have freedom to move on and find where their liberty demands better meet their entitlement needs. It is not here.

FernaldPoint93108 Jun 29, 2021 09:36 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Not wanting to spend $10k per month on each homeless person does not mean we hate them.

Eggs Ackley Jun 30, 2021 02:35 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

@SHMONL you mistake fear for hatred
Does the flea deserve more compassion than the dog?
We are exercising compassion through our desire to protect our neighbors and our neighborhoods. What is the role of compassion in “helping” the transient who desires no assistance, wants only to be left to his own devices, and lights fires that get out of control?
Did you consider that many peoples healing space is behind bars.

x01660 Jun 29, 2021 11:44 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

The big elephant in the room that everyone seems to be missing is HOW do we keep these people accountable for the help that they're getting...

Cool. Let's say we open a mega vagrant paradise out in the Valley.... are we trying to ship the vagrants somewhere outta sight and outta mind. without regards to their needs as individuals? Because if we're trying to actually REHABILITATE these people and reintegrating them into society, we cannot stick them somewhere with no economic or educational opportunities.

At the same time, we have to (here's that word again) be fiscally RESPONSIBLE for the way in which we go about fixing the problem; would YOU, a Santa Barbara landowner, be willing to allow a homeless person to pitch a tent in your front lawn (for example, assuming the whole neighborhood did the same with homeless that were kept accountable for cleanliness) if it would help get these people back on their feet, even if its of discomfort? Or do you go NIMBY?

And therein lies the problem... no one can fix the problem until all parties engage in mutual responsibility.... its not just the government's problem, and it isn't just a citizen's sole job either... these people we talk about like so many truckfuls of graphics cards are our loved ones, neighbors, and most essentially, human....

I don't have answers, but I can see that what we're doing ain't working.... When I think about what I think is (personal opinion) the beginnings of Western decline, I look to the attitude of the people toward one another.... it ain't pretty.....

Byzantium Jun 29, 2021 01:04 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Vagrants ship themselves in. So yes, shipping them out is the solution. Stop putting all these lawless transients in the same category that we are already serving with our huge social welfare system - food, shelter, medical, dental, social services and legal help. We are already paying for those who have temporary setbacks. The operational word is temporary - these grifters we are talking about setting fires, stealing, trespassing and making a general nuisance for everyone else have made being a transient their career choice . We owe them nothing. Except to get them out of our town as quickly as possible. It is their problem where they go next; not ours.

ginger1 Jun 29, 2021 12:37 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Have you every talked to an un-housed person living on the street? Many/most are not there by choice and have mental health issues, PTSD, substance abuse. Some of them are vets who risked their lives in the service of our country. There are many stories but one common thread is that every single one of them is a fellow human being that deserves some respect and understanding. And a roof over their heads. No matter what their "problem." It doesn't matter what the cost (as long as it is well spent) because they are people, just like you and me.

Have a little compassion.

Byzantium Jun 29, 2021 01:06 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

VA has a huge "homeless vet" program. Look up their website. Therefore, your comments intentionally distort the issues, Ginger.

ZeroHawk Jun 30, 2021 09:19 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

GINGER, thank you! I totally agree. Makes me sad that these edhaters are reacting this way. a bunch of judges sitting in the comfort of their homes. i've been homeless as a child/teen. it was the worst thing ever in my life and the way most of us American's treat others with less than us is just awful. Compassion and empathy is needed.

Ahchooo Jun 30, 2021 02:31 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I have compassion and empathy but am concerned that this is a very expensive solution that helps only relatively few people. Can they not find a way to help more than 50 people for four months, with that $2 million? My hope is that the supportive services will help some people get out of homelessness, and make this a long term success.

Rypert Johnson Jun 29, 2021 12:42 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

More and more, the "Mad Max camp" that I recommended a while back where the "houseless neighbors" can live in and do anything they want to themselselves and each other with self-policing, monitored movement when they go out into the neighboring communities, unlimited and legal access to the drugs of their choice from the police evidence lockers, a "do not resuscitate" mandate for heroin od's and all those do-gooder movements having to clean up the mess made by their "houseless neighbor" constituents isn't starting to look like a bad idea.
Call me a sicko or whatever for throwing out that idea, but these individuals, they want self-governance that involves zero governance from official entities. Well, let them have it!
Movements such as Food Not Bombs Isla Vista, Eco-Vista, UCSB FTP, UCSB YDSA, Bonfire Collective and UCSB 4 COLA can all pitch in and watch over the campers in this safe camping zone, they can even put up a food forest to sustain them. In fact, they can even camp out among their beloved "houseless neighbors" to show solidarity.
Everything else being tried is not going to fix any of the problems because it is not what the "houseless neighbors" want. They want a free for all, so I say give it to them!

Byzantium Jun 29, 2021 01:12 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Where possible, some cities have abandoned an island for this type of vagrant free for all - Key West and Copenhagen Denmark come to mind. We have no island other than the abandoned Greka "island" off Ventura county line coast. Therefore, the only option would be a fenced and guarded compound that would work the same way as an island - self-governed and self- contained. Currently, the UK is begging people to move to Pitcairn Island in the South Pacific - many financial incentives offered to immigrants - one can live off the land very well there. An opportunity that might work, so it is worth looking into to see if the immigration offers still stand. .

SBTownie Jun 29, 2021 01:37 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I agree and I don't think it's sick. If people want to be lawless and live, let's take some BLM land and build a dedicated hobotopia. The others who actually want to be rehabilitated and who are willing to enter drug treatment programs, alcohol treatment programs, and undergo mental health treatment actually have a shot at the elusive "rehabilitation" so many speak of and they can be the prime candidates to receive slots in limited housing facilities in cities and towns.

Rypert Johnson Jun 29, 2021 03:56 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

SBTOWNIE, totally agree w/ you. What the do-gooder types fail to see is that the addiction these "houseless neighbors" have is a terminal illness. They will never be "cured" of it, it will last their lifetime and in the process of it, they will victimize communities for their bad life choices that now "we" have to "fix" with major tax money.
The best thing we can do as a society is to give them a place where they can be themselves away from others. Those that want out, they can opt to be rehabilitated, but don't expect a long line for those services. Much easier to stay addicted and harassing communities until they break.
Then there's all this "failures of capitalism" bull I keep seeing here. The only capitalism involved in the situation of many of the addicted was savvy salespeople who gave them a free first sample then started to charge when they got hooked and kept raising the price of the preferred product.
If you're a Food Not Bombs Isla Vista, Bonfire Collective, Eco-Vista, UCSB FTP, UCSB 4 COLA or UCSB YDSA cronie then yes, capitalism is the cause of the condition the "houseless neighbors" live in.
But the reality stands, income inequity, rising home prices, capitalism, covid, all the typical excuses, not the cause. It is drug addiction.
If you choose drugs over paying rent, you get evicted. If you choose drugs over food, you go hungry. If you choose drugs over car payments, your car gets repo'd.
Another falsie is mental illness. It only accounts for 10% to 15% of any "houseless neighbor" population in any given area.
But you have people saying the effects of drug addiction amount to mental illness. Not true. What you have as a result of rampant drug use is brain damage.
Brain damage happens when you injure the brain through physical trauma (accident) or chemical trauma (dugs).
Mental illness is a naturally occuring condition cause by alterations of the brain through the basic chemistry of the brain.
Whenever I see the "metally ill" excuse used on the "houseless neighbors" to defend their bad behavior, it sickens me. This is an insult to anyone who is legitimately mentally ill.
Want to know why many of the "houseless neighbors" are not mentally ill? Their choice to come to Santa Barbara and Isla Vista and stake their claim. Prime real estate, prime weather, liberal, supportive population that shows them sympathy.
If you can discern those benefits, you are not mentally ill, you are fully cognizant and aware of your surroundings and what those surroundings bring.
I recently saw this ridiculous meme about how 76% of the "houseless neighbors" in Santa Barbara County are in that condition because of "housing costs, racial and economic inequities, low paying jobs, lack of shelter options and limited capacity of service providers" and then it goes to say that 76% "were living in Santa Barbara when they first entered homelessness."
There is a ton of holes in that narrative. To begin with, that narrative was the result of the "homeless survey" launched by do-gooders a while back. Now, you sound like a practical person, do you think any of the "houseless neighbors" surveyed gave truthful answers?

SBTownie Jun 30, 2021 10:48 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I agree, Rypert. I do, however, believe that the massive addiction plaguing our society is largely a by-product of challenges faced by the working class and the disappearing middle class. I don't believe we had these problems in the 1950s and the decades following because there was a more obvious path to success and a decent life for more people - factory jobs, well-paying trades, single-income households, working class able to earn a living and even buy homes in most of the country, strong family units, etc. I believe people are falling into hard times which then makes them far more likely to get into drugs and addiction, which then leads to mental illness. There are some obviously mentally ill people on our streets, but I believe the organically mentally ill (versus mentally ill from substance abuse brain damage) are the minority. This past weekend we heard a man vocalizing the loading of an imaginary shotgun right in front of the art museum. He was otherwise pretty clean and didn't look at all like an addict. I do believe he is suffering from some form of true mental illness and it's a real shame that we have laws in place that prevent us from forcing help onto these people who do very clearly need it. I would actually really like to see people like him get help - medication, radical acceptance therapy (proven to work with schizophrenia), etc. - but I suspect that this particular person has been resistant to help or unsuccessful thus far and probably ended up homeless when friends and family grew tired of likely belligerence and refusal to go further with treatment. Very few truly mentally ill people cannot be helped with medication and intensive therapy, and if they cannot and are truly delusional, then I believe the state should force them into in-patient treatment for their own safety and well-being. As you said, these illnesses - whatever they may be - are terminal and pathological. Addiction specifically is a cancer in our society and I truly don't know what we do about it. People keep talking about vocational programs, which is a joke. As if a homeless person is going to be trained in a skill that will be lucrative enough to keep them living in Santa Barbara when they "graduate" from the program? Extremely unlikely scenario and sounds like a recipe to set someone up for grand failure. The town is already filled with tons of working professionals struggling to stay here due to costs and tens of thousands of people who work hard every day and commute in from Santa Maria, Ventura, etc. because it is unaffordable to live here. So training the homeless for some menial job seems like setting them up to end up slipping back into addiction and or homelessness because it will be virtually impossible for them to "reintegrate" (which is such a joke, I guarantee you at least 75% of these people were never "integrated" into SB society as working, functioning citizens (more likely they came in by bus from Indianapolis or something like that) so why we're trying to "reintegrate" them is deeply questionable to me. The problem seems intractable given the circumstances of our economy, the cost of living in this part of the world, the criminal justice "reforms" that have made it so it's very hard to lock people up for anything (for instance, the homeless couple that physically assaulted a child on State St., were held here for a few hours, then released only to go up north and murder a stranger in Santa Cruz a week or so later) and the sooner we acknowledge the impossibility of solving it with simple ideas like "housing" the non-native homeless in one of the most expensive places on earth, the better. We need to talk about huge, systemic solutions or ways to address this - there may be no solution. As long as people cannot find meaning in finding a decent-paying career, completing milestones like buying a home, marriage, etc. they will continue slipping into addiction and ending up on the streets. This is not a housing issue in the sense that it is not simply about the rent being too damn high - it's about a larger picture of what has happened to America in the last few decades, and what happens to people when the fabric of society begins to rot. I really don't know what we can do about it besides build the Mad Max camps (shelter, food, water, hygiene) for those who are too far gone, while ensuring we do have services (the providers of which need to be held accountable for results) for the few who are truly committed to pulling themselves out. The lawlessness cannot be tolerated any longer and the public have a right to be free from the threat of fire, free from fear for personal safety while in public places (anyone who reads EdHat knows there are far too many incidents with the homeless harassing people), that people must have a right to use their public resources like parks and libraries, etc. It is very clear that the system is broken on virtually all levels. While I do believe every society will always have a contingent of chaotic, psychopathic criminals, we cannot tolerate this as the new normal but we also must ask why this is even happening to begin with. It's clear the story is much larger than the cost of housing and involves the erosion of the very idea of the American Dream and a civil society.

Chip of SB Jun 29, 2021 01:00 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

We can’t really blame the madness on city hall. We have elected representatives, so it is the majority of voters who have gone mad.

SantaBarbaraObserver Jun 29, 2021 01:00 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Why is a small city with less than 100k people responsible for the care and housing of people? Let alone the thousands of people that the City of Santa Barbara gifts various housing, food, healthcare and childcare subsidies to... This is not the roll or the responsibility of a small city or its small population. This is a State and Federal issue. The more housing that our city builds and removes from the market, the worse the housing issues will become for the people who ACTUALLY WORK and CONTRIBUTE to the community's best interests. The City of SB should NOT be in the housing business in any way, shape or form. This is the roll of private entities (especially the un-taxed churches and non-profits), this is not the responsibility of the 40% of people who live here and actually pay the taxes that this city squanders.

SBTownie Jun 29, 2021 01:35 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I agree with you but in this sense I think using seedier motels is not a bad idea when it comes to this. Repurposing them for housing the homeless (which I think should come with strict criteria for who gets awarded housing as well as a required program of some sort of rehabilitation - easier said than done with laws preventing mot of this) seems like a better idea than building brand new expensive housing for them in prime real estate locations like downtown and the funk zone.

a-1625067064 Jun 30, 2021 08:31 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Each district should get some sort of housing project , San roque should not bear the brunt of it bc there are a bunch of shitty hotels over here .
Put some in the mess , dt , east side , west side .

SBTownie Jun 30, 2021 10:27 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

It's already happening around Mission. The Orange Tree Inn has been fully rented out for this project for months now. So I don't think San Roque is bearing the brunt. I agree it should be dispersed throughout the county and participants should have no say in which facility they end up in. That could mean they're in Santa Maria.

SBTownie Jun 29, 2021 01:44 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

What I don't like about this program and what I think many people are concerned about is that we haven't been told - as the taxpayers! - what, if anything is required of participants. If we are simply moving them out to prevent fires, I don't think that's enough. We should have a right to evict them from fire-prone areas period. If the residents of these programs were selected as people who were volunteering to commit to a sort of in-patient (in the facility) rehab where drugs, alcohol, etc. were banned and they were enrolled in top notch mental health care including psychiatric care and addiction counseling, put into programs where they could reconnect with family and friends (who could possibly house them), etc. then I think people would not be so opposed. But if you're telling me that I should pay to house a child molester alcoholic vagrant simply because he set up camp in a "fire-prone" area and there are no other strings attached, then, yeah. I have a problem.

ZeroHawk Jun 29, 2021 01:55 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

so someone finds a solution to HELP these other humans/fellow santa barbarans but yet some of you still want to poke a stick at it and complain. These are people. These are fellow santa barbarans and fellow Californians. What is your issue with helping people? Do you not have empathy or compassion? Do you not have a sense of community? These people have it hard enough without your judgement. If you have walked a mile in their shoes then you can judge, but i assure you, not ONE of you have been there. How about back off unless YOU have a better solution? Recall blah blah blah. This is the lamest oped yet. Go cry a fountain because someone came up with an idea to help people with less than you. These reactions, not all of them, but many, make me embarassed to be a Californian/Santa Barbaran.

Chip of SB Jun 29, 2021 02:13 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

While this plan offers help, it lacks any component of force or compulsion. People suffering from addiction and mental health problems desperately need our help, but helping them requires us to force them to change. Unfortunately, these people cannot and will not consent to making the changes necessary to break out of the cycle of addiction. I want to help these people and I would support spending a substantial amount of money on a per person basis to provide that help. However, this plan will effectively establish a meth/heroin/fentanyl den and will do little to address the root cause of the problem.

Ahchooo Jun 29, 2021 02:58 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Chip, you say some can’t be helped because they won’t consent. So what do we do with them? Legally?

Chip of SB Jun 29, 2021 03:41 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Right now we just offer them help, force them to move, blame them, and often we try to pretend they don’t exist. The only solution to this problem is to tackle it head on with compulsory care and treatment. If that is not allowed by law, then the law needs to change.

Roger Jun 29, 2021 05:21 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I have cleaned up massive piles of their dung, been spit on punched, ripped off, threatened had my place vandalized, had knives pulled on me, got robbed, was threated by the guy who used to run the Cacique street shelter, had one crap all over the inside of one of my cars it won't happened again and if it does they better be wearing a mask because they are going to get it back and not in the good way.

cwazny Jun 30, 2021 07:05 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

These vagrants are NOT "fellow Santa Barbarans". Most of them come here from other places because of stupid ideas like this. San Roque is a prime area in Santa Barbara, and the people that have worked hard, and paid a pant load of money to live there, shouldn't be burdened with having to live next to a building full of drug addled vagrants, wandering their neighborhood at all hours of the day, worrying about their kids playing in their own front yards. I'd like to know what how the people that live on San Pedro Lane, right behind Rose Garden Inn, feel about having this concentration of vagrants right next to them, literally able to look down into their backyards?

ZeroHawk Jun 30, 2021 09:20 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

through legal channels, contact their families and get them involved. alot of these people have lost hope and contact with their loved ones

cwazny Jun 30, 2021 11:17 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

ZEROHAWK - Maybe, their "loved ones" have had enough of their destructive behavior. You have no idea how many chances their "loved ones" have given them before they finally said, "Enough is enough! I'm sick of you stealing from me. I'm sick of the police coming to the door looking for you at all hours. And, I'm sick paying your bail. Get out, and stay out!"

a-1625003668 Jun 29, 2021 02:54 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

EXACTLY!! All I ever hear is folks complaining about the fact we are drowning in homeless wretches and at the first sign of an attempt to at least help the situation the usual suspects come out complaining about that too. Ernie, for one, is a professional complainer. I wonder if it pays well.

oops Jun 29, 2021 03:04 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Every attempt you are thinking of involves my tax dollars and it (the problem) NEVER gets solved. They don't want to solve it, they just want more & more funding (tax dollars).

Seabird Jun 29, 2021 07:54 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

@2:54pm, what's your beef? He is pointing out the absurdity of this plan, and a lot of us agree with this point of view. Don't be catty.

a-1625069242 Jun 30, 2021 09:07 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Then house them be t to your house or your business . If you feel so strongly about supporting them . Put a few in your back yard.

Some of us don’t want a homeless hotel next to our house or our business . Respect that as well .

a-1625008070 Jun 29, 2021 04:07 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I admire Ernie Salomon; he's a predecessor to Anna Marie Gott, it seems. Government, even small city government as Santa Barbara, responds only to the loudest voice and Ernie certainly fits that description. Government, including Santa Barbara's, deserves an equal amount of blame as always receive Saloman and Gott! And he has long been a participant in housing problems, see Nick Welsh's column of 2015: https://tinyurl.com/7s5yp64w.

I hope people are watching today's council meeting and even volunteering to help.

The City has not specified why it will cost approx. 10,000/month, what is received for that large amount. It needs to do so, at the very least to get some public support. Ernie's question of what happens after 4 months is important. Recall of some of them sounds great, but silly.

Andrea Smith Jun 29, 2021 04:50 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

I don't think this is a bad idea IF it comes with conditions such as, no drugs/alcohol [similar to a half way house] and rehab services/detox. Yes, that is pricey but, I'd rather see tax money going to something that might actually help some of these people get out of their ruts and back into society in the long term, which will cost us all less if that happens. I hope they aren't going to just hand out free rooms for them to do what they want [the ones with the substance problems and such].

Ahchooo Jun 29, 2021 06:28 PM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

The people unwilling to stop drinking or drugging still have to be considered/dealt with. We don’t want to enable disfunction, but we can’t just go “Snap, you’re going to stop being an addict!”

Andrea Smith Jun 30, 2021 09:38 AM
Op Ed: Madness at City Hall

Uh yes ANCHOO that is exactly what needs to happen. Any rehab / substance abuse counselor will tell you not to enable those who don't want the help. Let them hit rock bottom which in these cases means possibly dying on the streets if they so choose. No homes for them.

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