SLO councilman rips city’s anti-panhandling campaign

September 9, 2014

homeless meterBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

A San Luis Obispo city councilman is criticizing the city’s latest attempt to address its homeless problem, calling a recent campaign a fundraising effort for a local nonprofit, rather than a deterrent for aggressive behavior in the downtown area.

In April, the city, along with United Way, installed meters in several downtown locations, allowing individuals to give coins or swipe credits cards as donations to the homeless. A subsequent city campaign attempted to deter people from giving money to panhandlers and to instead donate money through the meter system.

On Monday, Police Captain Keith Storton issued a press release announcing that the city raised approximately $8,500 through the donation meter campaign, and that officials would present a check Tuesday to the nonprofit Friends of Prado Day Center.

Councilman Dan Carpenter responded with an email statement to the media saying the donation meter program was just a fundraising campaign and not an anti-panhandling effort.

“Let’s call it what it is… a fundraiser for Prado!” Carpenter wrote. “Panhandlers are as prevalent and aggressive as they’ve ever been so please don’t suggest otherwise and insult those of who spend copious amount of time downtown.”

Storton’s release made no mention of whether a decrease in panhandling has occurred following the installation of the meters.

Friends of Prado Day Center, a fundraising arm of the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo (CAPSLO), is expected to receive the majority of the funds collected from the donation meters. City and nonprofit officials will present the check Tuesday at 4:30 p.m. at the Prado Day Center.

The city raised the majority of the approximately $8,500 collected through meter sponsorships. Meter sponsors include Copeland Properties, Mayor Jan Marx and former CAPSLO homeless services director Dee Torres.

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This city has a serious homeless problem- Much worse than any other city I have ever lived in my life for its size.

I first lived in SLO from elementary school through high school, and went away to college and lived in a few other places for 8 years… When I came back to town in 2013, it was like a completely different city.

Homeless panhandlers on almost every single corner, panhandlers at the intersection of the Madonna Plaza shopping center, panhandlers at Marigold center, panhandlers at Trader Joe’s shopping center..

Every single place you turn now there is a panhandler.

I walk downtown and it is almost pathetic now.. the same homeless bums sitting down there every day.. I asked the huge fat guy who sits near the Downtown Center where he came from, because I didn’t remember him and he’s there every day now practically and he said he came from Montana of all places, and heard from others this was a great place to be homeless.

Many other new homeless people appear to be showing up in this town daily.. because they seem to pathetic to have gotten here on their own, I’m starting to wonder if other cities or states aren’t actually giving them bus tickets here.

Of course, now of our 3 choices for Mayor-

1st Choice – A homeless Whale Aritsan

2nd. Choice – Someone who sounds like they were previously homeless and want homeless people camping all over town.

3rd Choice – Marx, who has made her views very clear that she wants to build a homeless mega-center..

There is not one person running for mayor who actually wants to hold a public comment section and hear what the public has to say regarding the completely failed homeless policy and the direction we are heading?

Last time I checked, the residents of SLO should have some say in whether or not we think this cities homeless experiments has worked, or failed miserably, and we should do that by a vote on whether or not to continue Maxine and Prado, not just whether or not we want to add hundreds of more beds.

The problem is this: SLO has perfect weather to be homeless in, it doesn’t rain here, and the temperature is just too good. Combine that with a gullible college and visitor population, narrow streets that force people to walk by you very closely and the panhandling becomes too lucrative.

One major point Capslo and our mayor and council continue to overlook is the simple fact that there aren’t jobs that pay enough to ever start living in SLO if you’re homeless and move here wanting to live here. There is ample alcohol and public parks to vegetate in daily though.. so that’s usually what ends up happening.

In my opinion, we are leading on a group of very low skilled homeless people who will likely never be able to afford to live here, and are creating a perpetual homeless population- when if these people moved to a geographical location that didn’t have he highest cost of living in the entire country, they might actually land on their feet again..

Also, there is a serious safety risk as a completely disproportionate amount of our Police calls go to dealing with the same bums over and over again, decreasing overall resources to instead focus on a select few.

Of course, many of these homeless we are inviting into our town (or who are flocking here more appropriately) are drugged out and drunk and are much more likely to commit crimes than the average taxpaying SLO resident.

To me, this poses a huge safety risk, and it’s obvious if we want SLO to be safer, we need to reduce this problem segment of the population, not increase it by building more and more beds.

Not to mention the millions of dollars shopkeepers are likely losing and hotels, because people aren’t coming to SLO like they were because this is becoming a bumtopia.

Renting an apartment in most of the midwest can be as cheap as 300 or 400 a month, you can afford to live on minimum wage in many parts of this country.. But not here, so let’s stop leading these people on.

Oh, and this city council (minus Carpenter) and Mayor Marx have it ass-backwards regarding “we need to add more beds and more services because there are a ton of homeless people showing up in this town”.. that is precisely WHY there are so many homeless people showing up here, and the more services you add the more that will show up, it’s really that simple.

Close Maxine, Close Prado, give the residents of SLO a vote on the subject.

Sorry about the spelling errors, I have to get to work.. I know the difference between too and to.

This is a huge problem in SLO, so much energy, money resources spent ‘trying’ to make sure people are safe. The homeless know they can do what they want in front of fast food restaurants, inside of public buildings and get away with bad behavior. This is scary for women walking along, women with children and anyone just wanting peace in the downtown area. By the time the police are call the aggressors are gone! It isn’t a good world where we have to be afraid to walk our City streets! Other cities have like problems. The shopping centers are a favorite location for those who are just hanging out with nothing to do. It is unfortunate, really unfortunate, that we have to put up with it. I was walking to my car a homeless man saw me (and I him), he walked so that he crossed my path. I told him not to talk to me! He left, but if he had been aggressive I would have been very frightened.

We need protection from being approached. This is a weird world we live in.

Every time I come to this site I can’t help but notice the: criminality, corruption,

decadence, bad behavior of the common “stakeholder ” classes. The homeless, the

problematic ones, are symptomatic of something larger a Sick Society.

I have never panhandled in my life. The Culture is in decline, there is nothing special

about you people and your children. I had one of your local children up in my face

on Veterans day, as a Veteran I appreciated it.

These efforts to: lable, marginalize, demean, exclude, descriminate; good luck you will

need it with me. 9 times out of 10 it is one of the local fruitcakes approaching me, not the

other way around.

Vast majority of Women, besides being good looking do not appear to be paticularly

frightened by any of this? The Women have more stones than the men?

It is the times, the culture (lack of it ) we live in, nothing special about anybody.