Is Adam Hill using the homeless as a political tool?

September 16, 2017

Mike F. Brown

During last week’s San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting, 3rd District Supervisor Adam Hill took another swipe at 4th District Supervisor Lynn Compton over her steady support for the construction of a new county animal shelter. During the meeting staff recommended that $3.8 of a positive $7 million budget surplus from last year be placed in a capital reserve fund that is being accumulated to construct the new shelter.

Hill’s ire erupted with a comment that Compton is advocating spending “more money on homeless animals than homeless people.”

Compton is known (and was well known before she became involved in electoral politics) as a staunch volunteer animal rescue person. Her home and yard are always filled with animals, including cats, horses, alpacas, and others.

In fact, she has achieved some renown around the state for rescuing sick and abused Persian cats and restoring them to health. Apparently the species is especially vulnerable as people misinterpret the serious look.

Hill went on to rail about the county’s lack of funding for improving the lot of the homeless. This seems bizarre inasmuch as recently as June 6 the board received an extensive staff report detailing exactly how much money the county does spend on the homeless persons.

It contained statistical information about the number and status of homeless people. The good news is that the numbers seem to be decreasing. The report also described the expenditures on the homeless and the funding sources.

As best as can be determined per the pie chart below, the county spends a direct $6.6 million on the programs annually. This would be an average of $5,333 per individual.

Millions more are spent in the form of health care, behavioral health care, income maintenance, and social services, but data does not exist on how much of these county expenditures (largely federally and state funded) actually go to the homeless versus other categories of recipients. The total expenditures for these services are summarized in the table below. Thus for example, if the homeless received $10 million out of the total costs listed below, they would be receiving a total of $16.6 million (when the direct known expenditures are added in).

This would then amount to about $14,755 per person per year.

Note that this figure does not contain direct expenditures from the federal and state governments that some of these individuals are receiving, such as Social Security, Supplemental Social Security, disability payments, veterans’ benefits, or Medicare payments to providers on their behalf.  

All this information was generated in the first place because Supervisor Hill keeps whining that the county isn’t doing enough for the homeless. He continuously postures that adding funding for road maintenance or state mandated groundwater management erodes the funding for the homeless. Now it’s the animals that are the problem.

It would seem not to be the case.

As we have noted in the past, homelessness is a state of not having permanent shelter. A significant problem is that since the 1980’s, instead of dealing with the fundamental concept of housing as shelter, government trendiology has taken the therapeutic approach.

Under this approach government policy makers, bureaucrats, and not-for-profits have determined that instead of building housing, they will cure the underlying causes of homelessness, which they regard primarily as mental illness, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. They assume that if persons were not afflicted with these maladies, two of which are self-inflicted, they would happily eke out a living doing whatever crummy menial jobs are available at the bottom end of the economic ladder.

While possibly well intended, this strategy fails to recognize that having permanent, decent, and secure shelter is an important component of not aggravating mental illness. It is also a necessary support to recovering from alcohol or drug abuse.

With only about 1,200 homeless individuals in the whole county, you would think the county government could solve the housing problem by approving homeless vehicle parks, “little houses,” small manufactured home parks, low income single-room occupancy apartments, and so forth.

Of course this would be too dangerous politically, because the facilities would have to be located somewhere. Those “somewheres” would offend NIMBY’S, environmentalists, and other elites to whom Hill and his alt left buddies pander.

Moreover, if the problem were actually solved, there would be no need for a variety of homeless-serving agencies, county jobs, and endless handwringing. In effect, solving the problem would undermine an industry.

The sign in the photo to the right expresses the political left’s true approach to homelessness, in this case in a city politically dominated by a well-recognized leftist oligarchy.

If a huge earthquake destroyed most of the housing stock in San Luis Obispo and the five cities area, trailers, mobile homes, and other special units would be installed in weeks, housing tens of thousands. Where is Hill’s motion to direct staff to prepare a physical and fiscal triage plan to house only 1,200? I’m sure each city and each unincorporated urban village in the county would take their proportionate share.

If it’s a humanitarian emergency, the normal glacially slow and costly zoning and permitting requirements could be suspended.

Mike Brown is the Government Affairs Director of the Coalition of Labor Agriculture and Business (COLAB of San Luis Obispo County. He had a 42-year career as a city manager and county executive officer in four states including California. He can be reached at


trendiology ??????


Do people actually feed bears–like at a petting zoo? I really have my doubts about that.

Most people feed the bears at campgrounds unwittingly by being careless with their garbage and not stowing the excessive amounts of food they bring into a forest. Which more closely resemble the NIMBY’s in writer’s article? They’d fit well in your analogy too.

So do we really feed the bears or do our excesses attract them? Hmmm.?

Building and then putting them in houses as the COLAB writer’s suggests would be a banquet fit for Yogi Bear–would it not? The circular logic of his article confuses me.

It is as simple as this; Bears like the warm beach. Just ask Los Osos.


Talk to someone who has worked in Yellowstone NP during the summer tourist season. There are a large number of people who think of wild animals as having temperments like house pets. It is amazing how few of them are actually killed each year.

George Bailey

Q: Is Adam Hill using the homeless as a political tool?

A: Adam Hill is a political tool.

JB Bronson

Adam: 1) How does Dee stand to benefit from what you propose? 2) Your pursuit of funds for the Homeless is a conflict of interest.

3) Not Dee, nor CAP-SLO, nor County SocIal Services has proven even mildly capable of knowing how to spend funds responsibly on behalf of improving the lot of the homeless.


Excellent point addressing the corruption within the county. But at the same time the homeless and needy should not be the pawns because of this political corruption. For some it’s easier to look the other way and ignore the homeless while the real humans will attempt to address the issues involved with the homeless and make an attempt to address the problem.




Perhaps some things are best left to charity, NOT government.

But when people cede more and more of their money and responsibility to bureaucrats, they

give and do less and less for charity.

SLO & SB are ruled by progressives…..progressing daily to make California into Cuba, or Venezuela. They simply avoid facts in order to do this.


What percentage of the homeless want to be homeless? Now what percentage of animals are abandoned through fault of their own? How many people accost you outside of stores, begging for money vs how many stray dogs sit on corners with cardboard signs saying “will bark for food”? The more money we spend on needy animals the fewer we will have, the more money we spend on the “homeless” the more we will have, also crime, trash, drugs, vandalism, etc. etc. etc.

Don’t think I haven’t tried to help, I have and have been severely burned by these people, which is why I started helping animals, they are much more appreciative. If you really want to help the largest segment of the homeless, give the money to the Mental Health Department, they might be able to help them. Or to Drug Rehabilitation.


How much would a one way bus ticket out of town for these bums cost the taxpayer?


This is precisely what Santa Cruz did in the 80’s. Guess where the ticket was to? SLO.


1200 homeless people is incorrect. More like 4000. And yes; people in San Luis Obispo do care much more about animals than other people. I guess it’s because it’s a “Progressive” city. I would say SLO keeps getting progressively worst every year.


Adam Hill may be on the right track here. The new homeless shelter that is under construction had a budget of $4.2 million. The shelter will house and feed over 200+ people (humans) a night and also provide space for support groups such as mental heath and counselors. Much of this funding came from donations.

Then we have the proposed animal shelter with an estimated cost (and we all know it will go over budget) of $14+ million. This shelter is proposed to handle 4000-5000 animals a YEAR. The per square foot cost of this facility exceeds the per square foot cost of building a new hospital.

The annual count of 1200 homeless people in the county is a joke in itself. All one has to do is drive around the country and you can figure that one out. The count is taken 1 day out of the year.

The breakdown on the homeless population is 20% that want to be homeless, similar to the old hobos, who just want to be left alone and for the most part cause no problems. Then there are 40% who are down on their luck and become homeless until they recover from their unfortunate conditions. Now we address the remaining 40% who most of us see on a daily basis around our shopping centers and in and on the streets. These are the homeless who suffer from substance abuse, mental illness and other conditions. There is a large number of these folks who are Veterans and have been abandoned by our government.

Most of us are animal lovers. While some, like Ms. Compton go above and beyond the call caring for abused and mistreated animals for which I applaud her, but please do not abuse my tax money for your personal project.

There has to be some reason put forward towards these 2 problems. It’s easy to see that the homeless situation certainly can use more funding while it appears that the animal shelter funding is really out of whack. Fortunately Paso Robles Mayor Steve Martin stepped up and addressed this. Where were all of the other politicians that we put into office to protect our tax money?

This really looks like another political game that is being played by our Board of Supervisors and in the end there will probably be nothing accomplished that will address both p[oblems on a fair basis.

Will there ever be any sound business thinking in our county? Or are we all just supporting these politicians so that they buy votes?

Noodly Appendages

SLO County has current programs and expenditures in play that are actually increasing the homeless population here. The County government, pushed along by that humanitarian giant Hill, are essentially the people in the campground who deliberately feed the bears. And brother, do we got bears now. Answer? More money! Get More money, you can get more bears!


Rukidding… SLO will house 200 and then there is ECHO in Atascadero and they are currently building living quarters next to the Center that by the looks will house a good 20-30 singles. If you go by the Echo Center any evening during dinner hours you will see that many of them are in cars and RV’s. Then, after dinner you can go over to Hwy 41 (2-3 blocks away) and stop by the Gas Station next to A & W and see then settling in for the night at the park next to the freeway with their dogs, drugs, booze and partners. These 40% lay around on blankets, pass the joint, share the bottle and seem to enjoy their life choice. These young adults are 20-25 years of age and do not want to conform to guidelines and rules in the shelters. They want their dogs, drugs, drink, do not want to help clean up in the morning. etc. They earn their living with government checks that no one every wants to talk about and panhandling at places like Von’s Shopping Center (recently burglary and attempted carjacking) where Security Guards on now on duty.


You forget a few things, most, if not all, the cities in SLO county contract, and pay for the animals sent to the pound, and most of the animals are only there for a few days or weeks, then are adopted out to people for a fee. The Homeless shelter will bring in more homeless, it will always be full, and the overflow will sleep in our parks, or behind our businesses, crime, drugs, vandalism, human waste, will increase.


What kind of people are negatively rating this comment or not appreciating Mike’s well thought out article? I agree with this comment that people are more important than animals.

rukidding what % of homeless would actually benefit from a “permanent, decent, and secure shelter”? Another words be able to support the cost of a dwelling?

Rich in MB

Politicians use the Homeless or any other tragedy they can for politics.

Remember….never let a tragedy go to waste.