Marx’s martial arts and Hill’s “kumbaya” highlight SLO homeless meeting
January 13, 2013
San Luis Obispo Mayor Jan Marx recalled getting punched in the arm outside city hall, Councilman John Ashbaugh proposed video surveillance of the homeless and County Supervisor Adam Hill delivered a “kumbaya” moment during a city workshop Saturday on the issues of homelessness.
About 50 members of the community spoke at the workshop, offering their solutions to the city council on the problems surrounding homelessness in San Luis Obispo.
Several representatives of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo pled with the council to provide funding for current services provided by their agency, as well as for the proposed homeless shelter on South Higuera Street. Hill’s girlfriend and CAPSLO homeless services director Dee Torres said the community is “in crisis,” and the council needs to provide “more ample services” for the homeless or “everything will fall apart.”
Well before Torres spoke, Hill began public comment by apologizing to San Luis Obispo business owner Bill Thoma for lashing out at him in an email regarding Thoma’s opposition to the location of the proposed shelter. Thoma, the next speaker, accepted the apology, and the pair sat next to each other for the remainder of the meeting.
Several speakers thanked Hill and Thoma for setting a tone of unity. Richard Margetson called it a “kumbaya moment.”
Hill suffered a political blow Wednesday when he lost his bid to become the next president of SLOCOG. Members of the public have criticized him for using bully tactics following recent emails he sent chastising not only Thoma, but also state parks officials. Hill has since grown a “pacifying” beard, pledged “greater tranquility” and made nice with Thoma, leading up to his opportunity to take over the presidency of the Air Pollution Control District Board.
Ashbaugh, a supporter of Hill’s and member of the CAPSLO board, said the city needs to collaborate more with the nonprofit. But, Ashbaugh said the council must take a “tough love policy toward homeless.” He suggested placing surveillance cameras in public places frequented by homeless in the city to monitor their behavior.
“As a card-carrying civil libertarian, I hate this idea, but frankly, security cameras,” Ashbaugh said.
Marx said the city as a whole needs to take a tougher stance on the behavior of the homeless and transients. She said a man punched her in the arm in December as she was walking from city hall to the county government center.
“I was punched in the arm by somebody who was bigger than me and really smelly,” Marx said. “I didn’t know if the person had a home or not, but that’s the stereotype.”
Marx said the man “smelled like a brewery” and behaved in a similar fashion as homeless people who have committed assaults around town. The man left her alone after she went into her “martial arts training,” Marx said.
The mayor also said a smelly person recently opened her husband’s car door and climbed inside with him near the county history museum.
“The situation is now reaching a point where it’s just not acceptable in terms of the experience of being in the downtown,” Marx said.
She said the council should consider programs for homeless families and landlords should rent more often to homeless veterans, but residents should not give money to panhandlers.