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“Shelter Crisis Designation” has brought in more than $8 million to city of Chico coffers

27 Jan

It looks like the area known as “Devil’s Triangle” (at the intersection of 12th and Mulberry Streets) is filling up with illegal campers again. The camp disappeared when the Red Cross set up their Camp Fire evacuation shelter at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds, but now that Red Cross is pulling out, the little tents and trash piles are starting to appear around town again.

It was no secret that for the last few weeks, maybe more, there have been more transients than evacuees at the Red Cross Shelter. Within days of the evacuation a Norovirus outbreak was announced, but we won’t know how many people became sick.  There was also at least one death  – a 62 year old Magalia woman became ill at the shelter earlier this month, and “was rushed to the hospital”. She later died, the cause was released to be pneumonia. Pneumonia is a killer, highly contagious, and spreads readily in sub-par conditions, like a dirty overcrowded shelter full of transients.

Karl Ory, a member of the local Red Cross board, indicated as much in a recent letter to the News and Review.

Apparently, our mayor Randy Stone has been trash talking on Butte County Fires and Accidents website, saying that anybody who doesn’t support the establishment of shelters for these transient criminals and druggies is a “homeless hater”. What a change of heart Stone has undergone in the last few years since he used a gun to chase a transient out of his house in the middle of the night, firing two shots into the air in his crowded Chico neighborhood.

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/close-encounter/content?oid=3190696

A juvenile high on drugs crawled through Stone’s dog door and woke Stone and his wife in their bed. Stone chased him out of the house and then fired a couple of warning shots? When my friend did that the cops showed up and told him it was called “negligent discharge,” and don’t do it again. 

In 2015 Stone told me he kept a gun, using it to patrol his neighborhood at all hours with his neighbors. He used Nextdoor and his position in the community to get help from then police chief Mike Dunbaugh.

“I created our neighborhood on NextDoor.com after discussing NextDoor’s benefits with then-Interim Police Chief Mike Dunbaugh.  I’ve always respected and appreciated Chief Dunbaugh and after he indicated he’s used NextDoor for some time I knew it could be beneficial if correctly constructed.  I started on the effort gently in January of this year.  That kicked up quickly once we realized (ironically through NextDoor) that there was a serial tire slasher operating in the early morning hours.  Our efforts through NextDoor helped focus safety efforts and pool our data and resources.  Last Summer we coordinated bicycle and walking patrols (really just eyes and ears on the street) in the middle of the night.  I was out with neighbors on our streets sending the message that we were done with riffraff in our community.  I was with neighbors when we thwarted a few petty crimes and ran off other n’er-do-wells.”

Oh yeah, in 2015 they were riffraff and n’er-do-wells.. If we say that now we’re “homeless haters”.

So forgive me if I find Stone’s sudden concern for transients and drug addicts to be insincere. He just wants the funds that come in with “Shelter Crisis Designation.” In the last year the city has received over $8 million in grants related to the shelter crisis designation and the consolidation of services at the fairgrounds.

 

 

Karl Ory needs to go

3 Jan

Last night the new “liberal” council bit off more than they could chew, trying to shove second units into neighborhoods all over town. They also tried to overturn a rule that came out of nearly a year of arguing for owner-occupancy of homes with “accessory dwelling units” in the Chico State – Enloe neighborhood.  They even wanted to let developers off the hook for fees – even after the past two years of heated discussion over developers not paying enough in fees for roads and other city services.f

Here we go again, every time there’s a shift in council, they spend countless staff hours – $$$$$$! – trying to overturn decisions made by the previous council. 

What they don’t get is, those decisions were made because many citizens had come forward with complaints about developers, like Wayne Cook, who were being allowed to add third, fourth, even fifth “second units” without providing parking or street fees. What they were protesting were landlords who turned backyard, unplumbed sheds into “studio cottages” and allowed their tenants to cram onto a property, oftentimes causing neighborhood conflicts over parking across driveways, trespassing, and overflowing parties that brought the cops every weekend. 

And the new developer fees that took two or three years of arguing between the city and various developers just took effect. The city development fund has been, as Ann Schwab would put it, “in arrears” for years now, with other funds being kyped from to pay for stuff like sidewalks and other improvements that should have been paid for by developers.

And now the “liberrals,” led by Karl with a ‘K’ Ory, have found a way to allow higher density developers to skip paying for fees, by trying to get rid of fees for “accessory dwelling units” – second units by any other name would still stink!

Ory asked for an ad hoc committee to discuss this – meaning, no notice to the public of meetings, no agendas, no minutes. Last night Ory tried to pull stuff that wasn’t on the agenda, and he got called on it. And I’m guessing he didn’t like having to listen to so many people who didn’t agree with him – I was at a meeting chaired by Ory and he tried to tell me I’d already made a comment and didn’t get anymore! This guy isn’t a liberal, he’s a fucking fascist!

Ory also initiated the attack on the 20th Street Scrap Yard. Because? He wants to put low income housing on the property, like the CHIPS houses they’ve already shoved in. Right in the middle of a light industrial zone. 

Ory is business, citizen and taxpayer hostile, he’s a disaster for our town and needs to go. RECALL!

Write to your county supervisor and tell them to stop funding Butte County Behavioral Health

23 Aug

As my husband and I drive around Chico and use Bidwell Park, it’s apparent our town has an out of control transient population. These people aren’t “from around here” – read the police logs, when arrested, these people admit to having no local address and list towns up and down the state as their prior residence. That’s not “homeless,” it’s “transient”. 

At retail centers, parks, greenways and intersections around town, we see an increasing number of transients standing alone or sitting in groups, laying in their sleeping bags, smoking cigarettes, sharing alcohol, at whatever time of day. One day waiting at a local sandwich shop for our lunch, my husband and I watched a couple stoned out of their gourds, weaving in and out of traffic at a busy intersection, laughing hysterically, as though it was the running of the bulls or something.

It used to be worse around the Jesus Center and Torres Shelter, but now it’s spreading all over town. They walk out in front of cars on Mangrove Avenue, stand at medians at the Mangrove Safeway, wander dazed up and down the sidewalks, sit in bus stop shelters babbling at spirits. 

And they get violent. I’ve had personal experiences, I’ve witnessed stuff, heard about the weird experiences of my friends, neighbors, tenants, and people in line at the grocery store or post office. And today I ran across this face book page.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/butte.county.fires.accidents.crimes/

These are folks who, like me, feel the local media has got a “vested interest” in suppressing negative news about our town. I’ve always known the college, for example, has an obvious interest in keeping bad news about town out of the spotlight because it would  make it harder to get parents to send their kids here. That whole “Number One Party School” thing was a nightmare for the administration at Chico State, it  really made a difference in how parents perceive our college. And then high profile tragedies – drinking and hazing deaths at fraternities. The police have put us on the radar for killing people and beating up young coeds.  Now it’s the bums. The college has obvious reasons to pressure the local media to keep a lid on these stories. 

One man puts a finger right on the problem – “Take a look at the June 26th Butte County Board of Supervisors agenda. It is online. The county behavioral health department had 19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars dealing with mental health programs. Is seems those programs are not getting to those aggressive transients on our Chico streets.”

Here’s what he doesn’t know – it’s these very programs that are bringing the aggressive transients into our town. “19 consent agenda items worth millions of dollars…”  Yes, millions of dollars in “transfer fees” – the county gets $550 a day per transient they take from other towns/counties/hospitals.

Furthermore, they can hold these “clients” at the county psychiatric facility – nick-named “The Puff” – for 45 days without their consent – you do the math. 

So as you scroll down this facebook page, reading about people from other towns ripping newly planted trees out of the ground at a business on East Eighth Street and threatening the staff with the stakes from the trees, throwing and threatening people with a hatchet Downtown, breaking into cars at the Enloe Center at Cal Park, lighting a fire with a blowtorch on the front lawn of the Chico library – how do you think these people get to town? They are transported here by Behaviorial Health employees from cities and counties all over California. 

When I last inquired, Butte County Behavioral Health staffer Dorian Kittrell, who enjoys a salary of over $130,000 plus about a $35,000 package, told me they get about $63 million a year in transfer fees. 

When that 45 days involuntary hold is up, the “client” is released on their own recognizance, oftentimes with prescription medicine. They are offered rides to shelters in Oroville and Chico, but they are not required to either take the ride or register at the shelter. 

Yes, contact your county supervisors and tell them, first of all, these items need to be set on the regular agenda. They’re on almost every agenda, under the consent section, where they pass without any sort of discussion. 

You realize, many towns/counties don’t even have a psychiatric facility, they just send them to counties like Butte.  

Speak up to your supervisor, write a letter to the editor, describe how the situation is affecting your life. Like another commenter says on the BCFAC Facebook page, I used to  believe these programs were for the good of the citizens of Butte County, but it’s just another revenue scheme that ends up costing us more than it brings in. 

 

 

 

2018: We need to dismantle the Hobo Highway leading into Chico

30 Dec

Another year is coming to a close, I like to scroll over to “Archives” and see what I was doing a year ago.

At this time last year I was posting a lot of pictures of bums camping in Bidwell Park. I’ll tell you what – my husband still hits the park trails with my dog every morning, and even though the weather is dryer than this time last year, he hasn’t found any campers in our section of the park. Yesterday, feeling guilty about taking a shorter walk the day before, he took Biscuit down into the depths, following the meandering bum trails through the overgrowth – not even a trash pile.

One morning about a month ago he found the remains of a camp, but by the time we mounted up on our bike to head to the grocery store later that morning, the camp had been cleaned by a group called Chico Community Watch. They have a city staffer as liaison, kind of a supervisor – which means we essentially pay this volunteer group over $100,000 a year plus pension and benefits. 

Jack Lee, in his blog Post Scripts, has an interesting interview with member Trevor Skaggs here:

http://www.norcalblogs.com/postscripts/2017/10/11/story-pending-chico-community-watch/

The interesting part of the interview is where Skaggs essentially admits that when providing any kind of service for the transients,  “ you kind of setup a slippery slope, you are providing services that make Chico an amenable place for individuals to migrate here from other locations. “

Yes, I feel volunteers like this just exacerbate the problem, while allowing highly compensated city staff to shirk their responsibilities. Why would I want to pay the property taxes that support salaries over $100,000, plus very generous benefits packages, and then wade into the park and pick up human filth? 

And it’s not just the city of Chico – Chico Area Recreation District is currently in talks to take over maintenance of Bidwell Park. CARD has a $7.2 million budget projected for 2018,  $5.2 million spent on salaries and benefits, mostly for about 30 full time employees, who have managed to rack up over $1.7 million in pension deficit. Will they expect volunteers to clean up after the bums?

They will pursue a bond or assessment on our homes in 2018, but haven’t announced yet whether it will be on the general ballot or a mailed ballot. 

I don’t think it’s a permanent solution either – they might chase the bums out of Bidwell Park – temporarily – but they just move to other parts of town. North Chico has had two sprawling homeless camps, one near a trailer park mostly inhabited by elderly people. Residents reported not only illegal camping but public defecation and urination in their door yards, and even threats from transients.

Chico has become a destination on the Hobo Highway, and we need to stop offering the services that are bringing them here. How about a few services for tax paying residents? 

Here’s  the street out front of my house – when do I get some services? 

So yes, I plan to go on complaining about the transient problem in 2018. That’s a resolution. 

 

Portland Behavior

28 Nov
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You’ve heard of “toll bridges,” well this is a “troll bridge.”

I just posted that blog about Portland’s bum troubles, and then I got on the bike with my husband to do some errands. Like many people we use Middle Bidwell Park bike/pedestrian trails to commute Downtown and the Mangrove Corridor, and often use the bridge, pictured above, that spans Chico Creek there across from Immediate Care and Wells Fargo Bank.

The bridge has always been a gathering place for transients, but this morning was over the top – this old man had placed his bike and belongings well into the trail on one side, and situated himself and his backpack into the trail along the other side of the trail. I couldn’t help but think of the story of Three Billy Goats Gruff, and the troll who shouted, “I’m going to gobble you up!”

This is what I would call, “Portland Behavior.” I  feel he’s taking possession of the bridge. 

He muttered something at us as we passed, sounded like an opening for panhandling, but we kept moving.  I wasn’t intimidated because I was on the bike, with my husband, but if I were on foot I might think about taking a different route, or giving up walking altogether. Walking in the park alone is getting to be risky business.

We have a post office box so stopped at the post office annex on Vallombrosa.  There a disheveled man had scattered his crap – uh, excuse me, belongings – along the sidewalk and was pacing the sidewalk muttering at his feet.

1128171107-1

I felt sorry for this man, he was obviously mentally ill. But I also feel sorry for the people who are trying to run a family oriented business on the other side of that doorway he’s standing in front of.

This man’s behavior was very agitated.  Try being a parent with small children at hand, navigating these people at the doorways to businesses all over town. 

These people are brought here by the county, which gets $550/day for housing them.  They can be held 45 days without their consent, and then they are released to their own recognizance, oftentimes with prescription medications. I never know if I’m seeing insanity, or the result of prescription drugs and alcohol. 

There’s no supervision after release unless these people voluntarily enroll in one or another housing program. They can fall off their meds, get back on the booze, and end up right back on the street – in their new home, Chico – get arrested again, and around she goes…

Nobody is served in this cycle, except those who receive  the salaries and benefits.

 

 

 

 

 

Why would we want to do anything the way Portland – a “planning nightmare” – does it?

28 Nov

Portland, the home of Portland Loo, is having a serious bum problem.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/11/27/columbia-sportswear-may-close-downtown-portland-office-over-threats-public-defecation-by-homeless-people.html

The headline says it all,  but go ahead and read the article – like the bony hand of Christmas Future, Portland points out the fate of Chico. 

Portland sucks, that’s why they have one of the funniest online shows around, making fun of themselves:

http://www.ifc.com/shows/portlandia

Portland is also “the hub of smart urban planning,” while at the same time “a planning nightmare.”

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/379685-266393-east-portland-planning-nightmare

Why would we imitate this town? Our council needs a Post-it note right in front of them – “Do the OPPOSITE of anything Portland tells you….”

But tomorrow, the city Finance Committee – made up of Mayor Sean Morgan, and council members Mark Sorensen and Randy Stone – will discuss giving new urban high density developers lower fees than traditional developers. $taff is trying to say, high density development has lower impacts than lower density development. 

I know, what a crock – but it’s happening, look down your street.

Here’s another story of interest:

http://portlandtribune.com/pt/9-news/379637-266104-city-hall-update-police-crack-down-on-camping-in-retail-core-

 

Homeless agencies fighting like dogs over scraps

21 Nov

The other day I got a mailer from the Jesus Center, their annual fundraising drive. 

The Jesus Center has a long history here in town. The first location that I know of was a building situated down the street from the current location. They offered very spare meals twice a day – sometimes just a slice of American cheese between two pieces of white bread, contained in a sandwich baggie. They also offered Salvation – at times they were accused of asking clients to pray for their meals. 

In the early days the center was privately run, by a local family. By the 1990’s the center had a staff, and a manager – Al Kay, who was very popular in town. He renamed the operation “Loaves and Fishes.”  Kay started to ask for community support, encouraging donations of food. We had a good year in our tomato patch and I took him a 5 gallon bucket of tomatoes, for which he thanked me up and down.

But some of the neighboring businesses often complained that the center was bringing in transients, who would wander that length of street, drunk, panhandling, ranting and raving away customers. 

 

We had a rental in the neighborhood, when we were working on it, we bought lunch a lot of times out of the window at Duke’s Liquor – they had really good  wagon-style tacos for about $1 each. I saw what the locals were complaining about – we’d always encounter at least three drunks while waiting for our food, including one woman who would walk up and try to start a fight. The others would just walk back and forth mumbling and smoking cigarettes, which they picked up from the ground.

Around the corner, there was a house full of working girls – yeah, daytime hookers – who would hang around the intersection of Park and 13th wearing the usual clothes, stand at the stoplight smoking cigarettes and engaging passersby, oftentimes running back to the apartment house to meet them in the parking lot.

That corridor has had a problem with transients as long as I  can remember.  Part of the problem was an old building known as the Ice House – at some point, ice was manufactured there. It had been empty since at least the 1960’s, and was a serious public nuisance. It wasn’t only an eyesore, it was a gathering and camping place for the transients, as well as a rat house. 

In the 1990’s, the city and the Jesus Center had an idea that seemed to kill two rats with one stone – let’s renovate the ice house and turn it into a functional shelter, set it up with the county, get some funding, etc.  The old building that had housed the JC had been burned down at some point in an arson fire – nobody was ever even blamed for it, they just moved  along toward relocation.

The ice house was gutted and revamped into a kitchen and dining hall with an office and even a couple of living spaces. And renamed The Jesus Center. 

I was happy about that – like a lot of people, I believed the transient problem was already there, and they needed some center to deal with it. 

I don’t remember when the Torres Shelter came on the scene, sometime around 2000? The city gave them the use of the land, and donors built the shelter, and several groups have tried to run it. 

Both centers started to hit the skids, in my recollection, sometime during the early 2000’s. My husband and I started to notice the JC was looking very run down, with tags on the outside of the building and trash piling up in front. At some point we noticed a broken down old motor home with a tarp pulled half-heartedly over the roof, parked in back of the building. On different occasions we saw different men staggering out of it.  Whenever we’d go to Chico Locker to buy meat or sandwiches, we’d see a surly, dirty group at the picnic table provided for customers, smoking cigarettes, making inappropriate comments. The staff kept them out of the store, but couldn’t keep them off the table.

The trash started to pile up all around that corner. One day not too long ago I sat in the parking lot and watched two really drunk people repeatedly walking out in front of cars that passed through the intersection of 14th and Locust.  They acted as though it was some sort of game.  If they do get hit, it’s an all expenses paid stay at Enloe Hospital.

We were glad when we heard Bill Such had been sent packing and a new, no-nonsense board had taken over the JC. But things did not get better under new director, Laura Cootsoona.  The JC started giving bums sleeping bags, back packs, and other camping supplies that we’d find in piles in Bidwell Park, under various bridges around town and along our creekside greenways. 

I believe locating the Torres nearby was a mistake, they seem to compete for funding. And I don’t think the Torres Shelter board is led by practicality, they are led by Pollyanna fantasies. They don’t hold high enough standards for their clients. They say they have rules – the rules end at the public sidewalk in front of the shelter. The Torres board won’t be responsible for the behavior of the people they attract. 

Neither entity will take responsibility for the rampant illegal camping going on in their area. Neither will patrol the park to get illegal campers to come to the shelter. They sit and collect their salaries and wait for the transients to come to them. 

And North Chico has no open door services – transients are expected to find their way South. The old hotel on Esplanade and the Esplanade House accept clients through the courts, and have long-term programs. The Esplanade House is having internal problems over the current director’s insistence that they accept single drunks – he wants the money, the original founders want to protect the families living there. 

So, right now, our homeless agencies are all fighting among themselves, and it looks like the Torres Shelter will be gone within a year. 

I don’t know if I’ve shed any light on this situation, I’ve had a hard time remembering the timeline. But I do know, the situation is worse now than ever, and all we have is bickering among these publicly-funded agencies. 

https://www.newsreview.com/chico/plan-lacks-transparency/content?oid=25360445

So when I got the annual fundraiser notice from the Jesus Center, I hucked it. I’m tired of supporting this bullshit.