Our thoughts on the Mayor’s Plan - by John Hearne, Juliette Porro and Ron Jellison
The City of Sacramento has disrespected our unincorporated community and neglected its land here for decades. The condition of Renfree Field and the rest of Del Paso Regional Park, as well as Auburn Blvd in general is clear indication that this area has never been a priority to Mayor Steinberg. In fact, it is about as far away from his neighborhood as one can be and still be within the limits of Sacramento. Will there be a similar homeless site in or around the Pocket-Greenhaven area where he lives?
Take a look at a map of the area and the boundaries of the City of Sacramento. The “Thorn” on the northeast corner of the City has been exactly that to career politicians for as far back as the late 70’s and early 80’s when they first tried to sell the property for development, ignoring the historical significance of the area, which dates back to the Gold Rush and Abraham Lincoln.
When the idea of using the former Discovery Museum as a homeless shelter first came up, the Sacramento City Council was met with stiff resistance from the community. The Mayor's hope was that with time, the resistance will calm so he can sell the idea as “the only possible solution” to a crisis he and other local and state elected officials have helped create, by fostering an environment that serves as a magnet for homeless people, including those that are drug addicted or the mentally ill. They entered into a contract with Hope Cooperative to run the shelter, but without consent or consultation with the community, and without agreement from the City Council. They did so using procedural trickery, without public comment, and without following standard procedure with regard to requirements for consultation and mitigation. Basically, rules don’t apply when Mayor Steinberg wants to get his way and appear to be “doing something”.
That is not how a representative republic works. He is doing his best to jam this through, using the media and political gamesmanship to do it, stooping so low as to try to destroy the reputation of a council member who opposes his plan. Steinberg represents everything that is wrong with American politics in general, and California politics more specifically.
Services needed by homeless individuals are scattered all over the county. Mayor Steinberg's site is far away from those services and hard to access using public transportation. People and businesses in this area do not want this facility opened as a respite center, as a triage center, or as a shelter of any kind. We want to open a nature center, similar to Effie Yeaw Nature Center in Carmichael, something the people of this community can benefit from for generations. We are seeking relief from LAFCO to divest this park from the City of Sacramento and have it reallocated to Sacramento County, as County representatives have made repeated visits to the park, and to our homes, to discuss ways and plans to improve the condition and usage of the park.
Darrell Steinberg says “there is no reason we shouldn’t be using this piece of property as a triage center for the homeless”. We disagree. There are many, many reasons, not the least of which is the Children’s Receiving Home located directly next door. By utilizing this facility as a triage center for the homeless, Mayor Steinberg will be creating a corridor of unidentifiable, often drug addicted, often mentally ill, desperate people right across the front steps of a facility that is caring for the most vulnerable kids in our community. We have been astonished at the absurdity of this plan every time we have to read about it. Besides the underhanded way he has pushed his plan, it is utterly and completely stupid to purposely create a constant flow of potentially aberrant, possibly criminal, behavior which could lead to disastrous consequences for our most troubled children, right across their front porch!. How will people who need these services get to this facility? Well, they would have to either be bussed in, or walk from the nearest light rail station almost a mile away on Watt Ave. Their pathways go directly in front of the Children’s Receiving Home or past an adjacent children’s playground.
Seriously, placing a homeless shelter between the Children’s Receiving Home and a public children’s playground is as dumb a public policy idea as we've seen in a long time.