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Opposed to Proposal for Homeless Units

February 12, 1989

Regarding Taico Properties' proposal to donate its vacant structures at 701 Ocean Ave.--in the heart of one of Santa Monica's most beautiful neighborhoods--as temporary housing for the homeless, City Councilman Herb Katz seriously mistakes "the bottom line" to read that "we are wallowing in damned bureaucracy" by delaying immediate implementation of the plan. (Times, Feb. 5)

What we who live near 701 Ocean Ave. are wallowing in, Mr. Katz, is your own bureaucratic insensitivity to your constituency and your unconscionable disregard for maintaining the safety, peace and quality of life in our neighborhood.

As a matter of public policy, the homeless problem is not effectively addressed by merely thinning it out, spreading it around. On the contrary, the impact of the homeless is increased if we permit the establishment of mini-Skid Rows throughout the city.

I know it's satisfying for you bleeding hearts in City Hall to sit around looking at the floor, looking at the ceiling, musing on what wonderful intellectually stimulating social programs you can come up with next to attract additional human catastrophe to our once-lovely city. You're in touch with the homeless, all right. Sensitive to their every need. But you're sadly out of touch with Santa Monica residents--taxpayers, voters--whose idea of an acceptable urban environment does not include living in an encampment of transients.

We in Santa Monica have demonstrated a serious commitment to helping the homeless. We not only offer them breakfast, lunch and dinner, we provide them a choice of locations. When the weather is inclement, we dole out hotel vouchers. Given what the homeless contribute in return, they're not getting a bad deal. Objecting to them moving in as "neighbors" is not tantamount to ignoring them or not caring about them. We can care deeply about trauma victims, but that doesn't mean we should have to live in an emergency ward or that there should be a hospital on every residential block.

I urge our city officials to dedicate their efforts to implementing programs for the disadvantaged that do not disadvantage the whole of our city. Does anybody remember the days when we could take our families to cook out in Palisades Park without being panhandled and getting lessons in public urination and bedroll airing? The days before our Santa Monica politicians decided that the answer to the homeless problem was to offer more and more free services and abandon enforcement of the Santa Monica Municipal Code?


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