We’ve heard a lot of supposed reasons floating around to recall Santa Cruz city councilmembers Drew Glover and Chris Krohn.
Some of those reasons are dumber than others.
One rationalization that signature collectors have been peddling is that Glover and Krohn are planning to bring Ross camp-esque transitional encampments to every neighborhood in the next six months. Not only is that an exaggeration, but even if it were 100% factual, that reason would still suck.
The hard truth is that, yes, the City Council supports studying transitional encampments in the coming months. However, in the realm of local government, it takes at least two to tango. And as a matter of fact, all seven city councilmembers have voted, in one form or another, in favor of studying the concept, because that’s how you make good policy.
Transitional encampments deserve a fair shake. Ever since the Ross camp closed, the impacts of homelessness have gotten spread out across the city, with unregulated camps popping up around town, including at the beach. Better to have the encampments be at least somewhat managed, and give campers structure to help get their lives back on track. As it is, homelessness bears extraordinary costs, both to those experiencing its struggle and to the wider community surrounding those individuals.
Eager to think through solutions to homelessness, Gabriella Cafe owner Paul Cocking decided to hold a conversation, and invite Assemblymember Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley) to meet with Police Chief Andy Mills and architect Mark Primack, a housing advocate. Also in attendance was Claudia Brown, board president for Homeless Services Center, which just changed its name to Housing Matters on Tuesday, Sept. 17. (The center hopes to stimulate discussions about resolving homelessness.)
In conversation, Cocking learned that although the state is providing more money, there’s not much cooperation between various agencies and local governments on how to spend it, and it’s almost impossible to get local governments and neighborhoods to accept badly needed housing and other facilities. Over two-thirds of our police and fire resources are devoted to homelessness issues, Cocking says. Also, many homeless people refuse help and current legislation allows them to continue to endanger themselves and the community, and it costs the community three times as much to help people living in the street as it does to give them supportive housing, he says. He believes most California politicians haven’t bought in on the need for statewide solutions, like Stone has.
Here are some of Cocking’s suggestions for those who care and think about these issues:
- Send an email to every member of the Assembly demanding action.
- Buy a copy of Sam Davis’ book Designing for the Homeless: Architecture that Works.
- Visit downtown San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
“Remember we all said during the Vietnam War that things might have to get worse before they got better?” Cocking tells Nuz in an email. “They got a lot worse.”