The transient camp debacle – Mayor Andrew Coolidge got us into this mess, but has little idea how we will get out of it

27 Aug

I saw this story from KHSL Chico Action News on the Google News Chico site. Google is a better source than the ER lately. But, these don’t stay up forever, eventually the website refreshes, and I have never found any archives. So, I cut and paste the transcript, but if you want to see the entire interview you can see it at the link below for a few more days maybe. I also included most of the comments I found posted below.

I would like to remind everybody, Mayor Coolidge seems to have forgot – in 2018, this ninny went along with the council’s liberal minority and signed the Shelter Crisis Designation. That is why he lost reelection in November 2018. In 2020 the council went with districts, I don’t believe Coolidge would have got reelected in an at-large election. The “conservative backlash” also helped – I was shocked when Coolidge got the endorsement of the Republican Women Federated and other groups that had been pretty pissed at him a couple of years earlier. One local pundit even mentioned Coolidge’s support of the SCD, but opined he was the only choice in that district. As if, “just hold your nose and vote for him”. And here we are.

Here’s another question Haley should have asked – how much has this lawsuit cost the city so far? Maybe next time.

CHICO, Calif. – Action News Now spoke with Chico Mayor Andrew Coolidge about the state of the local homeless crisis and the ongoing lawsuit between the city and a group of eight homeless people.

For the time being, the city cannot enforce park rules that ban overnight camping until the judge approves a homeless shelter compromise.

Below is this transcription of our conversation with Mayor Coolidge:

Q: Mayor Coolidge, the first thing I think we should address here is, where are we at in the process of finding some sort of compromise when it comes to finding a shelter solution?

A: I think the community really wants to know that, where are we in the trial process, where are we in terms of actually getting some resolution? Because I think we all want to move forward and I’m among those folks. So if you look at it today actually they’ll be submitting briefs to the magistrate in terms of the settlement conference, that will be proceeding on the 30th, so there will actually be a settlement conference at that time. Hopefully, there will be.. some sort of resolution. That’s really the issue we’re dealing with. The two parties coming together. I believe the other side wants the moon. We’re really just dealing with providing a solution that will work within the city’s budget, so we can end this and get back to enforcing the in the parks and waterways, so it’s complicated.

Q: One of the things the judge brought up was at the airport shelter site, we’re not seeing beds, a roof, walls, all of the things that might entail what a shelter is. Is there a plan in the works to make that site more of a shelter? Or is there some other solution you’re cooking up?

A: A lot of people like to talk about the airport site and say, a lot of things were missing. But at the same token, a lot of things weren’t in place yet. We actually had a request for a proposal out for that site to have organizational management. And to have them manage it in a way that would provide some of those things. But the county backed out of that site, we had other difficulties and that never came to fruition. So we have the site out there, it has the spaces and we are actually providing additional shelter above the tents, but that site, even though a lot of people have said that’s not a great site, not a great location – it has about 29 people out there. They’re staying. So it’s grown on its own. Whether the city continues to do it because we have gotten some push back because the judge did not like it – that’s something that we have to look at and see whether we tailor that back and look into something else, I think that’s where the settlement conference comes into play.

Q: It feels like this all seems so far down the line. Everyone wants some sort of compromise reached, and yet we’re still not even sure if we make (the airport site) work go a completely different direction at this point?

A: Certainly the city has an idea of what we can do. There are some sites being considered, some sites being offered. We want to put that together, we want to make this problem a problem of the past. We want to move forward. Whether the plaintiffs are on board with that? Some folks would say they’re just trying to delay, trying to keep this process going as long as possible because it works in their favor? The city’s of course pushing for the judge to make a decision quicker to get to a settlement sooner. So we’ve offered some pretty big things that I never thought we’d put on the table and the response we’re getting is just not even…

Q: Can you tell me what some of those things are?

A: I can’t tell you specifically what they are, but I can tell you that we’re considering things that are more similar to Comanche Creek. Sites that have some shade and trees, that have access to water. So we’ve put some pretty hefty items on the table but I don’t ever see us moving to an indoor shelter, because that would be really difficult. it would be difficult for the entire ninth district to actually comply with that. You’re talking about San Francisco and L.A., if they had to do that, even those cities would be on the brink of bankruptcy. So to require cities to provide indoor housing when some of our residents don’t even have that? To provide air conditioning when some of our residents don’t even have that? I don’t think that’s a very realistic outcome. I don’t think the judge is going to burden the city with that and every city in the ninth district with that.

Q: While we’re tied up, while the city can’t do anything when it comes to enforcing (some) park rules, what are the key public safety issue that you’re worried about?

A: You’ll start to see some movement on those issues. When it comes to extreme drug use, when it comes to the fires, obviously anything with criminal activity, that’s something that we’re looking at and working on to stop that kind of activity. So we are rolling out a program to do that. We know and realize that these areas are high-crime areas as well. So there’s a lot of folks in the community pushing for enforcement in that area, but according to the city attorney in how we move forward, it has to be in a way that isn’t targeted. We don’t want to target that community or seem like we’re targeting that community. So for example we can’t go in there and say we’re going to fine everyone for smoking and cite them. We really have to look at doing something more complete and inclusive in terms of the entire city and just enforcing laws on the books.

COMMENTS FROM ACTION NEWS WEBSITE (I didn’t get all the comments, some were snarky.)

William 1 day ago I think the airport was meant to be a temporary solution. That’s why it was named a resting spot, not intended to be a shelter, which is why it probably didn’t help with satisfying whatever the judge wanted. I mean isn’t homelessness supposed to be temporary? Unfortunately, when the airport spot was put up in June, multiple news websites including the Chico ER posted an article that said Chico offered sanctioned camping for homeless. Two months later, here we are with even more homeless than before because of this news. Only an estimated 29 spots used for camping at the airport. You can see where the rest are now. I have no clue what the solution is, but if we go all Oprah with homeless saying “You get a house” and “You get a house”, no doubt it will attract a lot more homeless people. We have hard working people struggling to pay rent and then they see their taxes go to what seems like wasted resources. $45K/month for 29 homeless spots used? You could rent 29 houses for a month with that money. I’m all for giving a hand up to the homeless of this area, but let’s not make Chico the homeless destination capital of the world. Honestly, if I had a warrant for my arrest, I would hide out in the parks and homeless areas. I know Shasta county does homeless sweeps for people with warrants. You bet I’d be coming to Chico if I lived up north.Lastly, I think the City Council doesn’t want to go too far with resources as to attract out of area homeless.

Regina Erekson 1 day ago Replying to William Homelessness should be temporary. It took 2 years at Torres and assistance from Behavioral Health to receive rehousing help There is apparently no Continuum of Care for that, as it seems I will need to repeat the process after having a HAP defunded, couldn’t afford to use Section 8 lease in place and then moved to TBRA somehow. It’s been 3 yrs processing my disability claim through Social Security so TBRA refused me any further assistance. So do I go back to Torres to start over again? Also, now that I’ve been here 5 years, I constantly bump into former Torres roommates that are back on the street. If you don’t have the ability to maintain housing one way or another… Inadequate finance, substance abuse or infirmities it’s a merry go round of uselessness that seems to primarily rely on billing Medicaid/Medi-Cal and to qualify for grants that apparently go to administrative costs or eventually gets rolled to other budget lines. For example, when Coolidge said YOU would pay the $350k for the 29 capers on the Tarmac and then magically the COVID funds that were going to be applied to widening Bruce Road for the unaffordable housing developments. I really think there should be more transparency on how the city uses residents money. BTW if you want every homeless person to be self-sufficient take inventory of the things you require to get to work and function. .. that’s what is needed. Without addressing the cause of homelessness, it will never go away.

Regina Erekson1 day agoReplying to William Also, fires add to the local homeless population annually. Chico isn’t an attractive place to be homeless FYI. For example meth and heroin are far more available and cheaper in port cities. Maybe city council can make up those flyers so you can divert the crowds down to L.A., S.F. NY, FL … heck, China, India, Africa…trade for refugees, euthanasia, rural development, Soylent Green…

Unknown1 1 day ago Replying to Regina Erekson If housing is so expensive I would suggest you get together with other homeless people and use your joint resources to rent a place. College kids do it all the time.

Fred Spenger 2 days ago The Homeless are asking for the the moon? The Homeless are delaying the process? Some citizens don’t have a roof over their heads or air conditioning? Aren’t the homeless citizens also?

A Citizen 1 day ago Replying to Fred Spenger Coolidge not only doesn’t consider the homeless citizens. He doesn’t even consider them human. The city is bringing in a snake oil salesman for “advice” on how to “fix” our homeless “problem”. Coolidge is whining about money. While tossing $50k to this “expert” aka conman aka snake oil salesman. What an absolute joke!

Flaunts 2 days ago Replying to Fred Spenger>>> the homeless need to accept a hand up instead of expecting a hand out

Unknown1 1 day ago Replying to Fred Spenger Unproductive citizens.

Regina Erekson 1 day ago Replying to Unknown1How did you get that demographic information?

Unknown1 1 day ago Replying to Regina Erekson Probably from the same source that you got yours that says they could lead productive lives and if enough money and freebies are given to them they will become what they should have become without all of the money and freebies. They wasted their chance by burning their bridges and refusing to be a part of their own life.

eholohan 2 days ago The judge should have to give us a plan. In stead, he wants Chico to come up with a plan and he will say IF it is OK or not. Unacceptable!

Alley Oop 2 days ago Agreed. We shouldn’t be hostages to this judge and the Transient Invaders.

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