Please stop feeding our bums

8 Oct
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Chico has a wild life problem

My husband and I went over to the Vallombrosa post office the other day and found the above-pictured mess behind the annex building. There in the background you can see the back of Mangrove Avenue Safeway, where they keep their dumpsters. Look at that mess!

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Donut party?

I’m assuming the donuts were taken from the dumpsters behind Safeway, the only place for blocks and blocks that sells donuts in this quantity. I wonder how much they throw away per day. I wonder how much of it would be welcome at various homeless shelters and food closets. I also wonder – why aren’t their dumpsters secured, why is it possible for somebody to get in there and take out trash and strew it all over the place?

The door to the post office annex was also broken. 

It reminded me of the two years my son spent at Mammoth Lakes California, attending their little community college, Cerro Coso. Mammoth Lakes is high in the Sierra, there are constant reminders of the bears that prowl the town.

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My son received a sticker like this from the college he attended at Mammoth Lakes California, they gave them to all the students.

Visitors are warned not to leave food in their cars at all. A boy at the college dorms left a half-eaten burrito in his car and came out the next morning to find the car window smashed and the interior of the car torn up.

These incidents are bad for tourism, and bad for the bears, which are an inseparable part of the town’s identity.

The stickers are the brain child of Mammoth Lakes “bear whisperer” Steve Searles. From the Mammoth Lakes Sheet –

Not only is the message clear and to the point, it’s personal. Don’t feed OUR bears puts the onus on the community, which is always happy to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done to co-exist with bears. It makes people responsible for being part of the solution.

Here in Chico, we have all kinds of wild animals – opossum, raccoon, turkeys right in my front yard, wild geese shutting down Manzanita Ave, fox in the park, cougar spotted as low as 5 Mile and a bear shot by police in the parking lot of the Enterprise Record.

But, this donut mess is not the work of Rocky Raccoon.  Neither did Rocky break the post office annex door – I saw two different locksmiths trying to fix it over a period of one week. The back door to the city municipal building was broken for weeks, I don’t know if it’s been fixed as of now. I believe those doors were broken by transients, who have free run of our town at night. 

In Chico, our wildlife problem is people who are brought into our community through programs we have for the indigent, including people freshly released from the prisons at Susanville and other incarceration facilities. They are sent here because we have programs – including a network of shelters, medical and psychiatric facilities, and other agencies that provide free services. When a person breaks completely down and is unable to fend for themselves at all, they will get a free stay at Enloe Hospital, possibly followed by a 45 day stint at the Butte County psychiatric facility at Oroville.

These people either make their own way here, or, in many cases, brought by Butte County Behavioral Health, as part of a network of “beds”, meaning spots in shelters.

When I heard about the daytime robbery/murder of a man who had only that day been placed in a housing facility for the indigent, I had to wonder, what was his story? When I checked Butte County Superior Court records,  I found the dead man had an arrest  record – mostly possession of drugs. I wondered what that might have had to do with two men chasing him down a street and shooting him to death – to steal his cell phone?

It’s not that I don’t have compassion for the dead man. But what about our community? What kind of criminals and their cronies is the county bringing in when they, essentially, sell beds in facilities to other cities/counties? Who are these people – are they actually mentally ill? Helpless? Or have they learned how to play the system? To get shelter when they need it, to dodge their enemies, creditors, law enforcement?

Near San Diego, which is currently having a Hepatitis A outbreak credited to the “homeless”, people feel there is an element among the homeless who are out to take advantage.

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They  believe their problem is professional pan-handlers, and local business owners say these people actually get a little threatening if passers-by don’t give them what they want. I believe this is a problem in Downtown Chico, where the atmosphere gets particularly ugly after 10pm. As people start to hit the bars, they make easier targets. College students, young and on their own for the first time, inexperienced drinkers, are especially vulnerable.

In Mammoth Lakes they are afraid a bear might injure or kill a tourist.  Here we need to be thinking not only what the transient army is doing to our quality of life, but what they will do to the reputation of the university. A riot that temporarily ended our founders’ day celebration, a stint as “Number One Party School” in Playboy Magazine, and a rash of hazing and drinking deaths were treated very seriously by our civic leaders – why not the transient problem?

As a community, we need to stop feeding the transients.  The fund transfers taken by the county for bringing in transients are just salary fodder. The programs offered by the county don’t help these people, and many of them don’t really want that kind of help anyway. They want to continue a lifestyle of roaming the state, taking advantage of these programs and services, meanwhile predating on our community. 

And worse are the public employees who get paid 6 figure salaries to bring more transients in. Worse yet are the elected leaders who keep rubber-stamping the transfers.  

But really, we continue to put up with it – we’re the “enablers” here.

In Ocean Beach they see the problem as it really is.

 

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