Council to Neighbors of Anaheim Canyon: ‘We Will Take the Credit, You Will Take the Burden’




Homeless Center on Carl Karcher Lot - text

The centrally located Carl Karcher lot — near where the homeless already are!

[Part 1 of this essay appears here.]

Our local politicians are now much more aware of the homeless problem and they have received tremendous support at the council meetings. Whether this support has been mostly from homeless’ advocates, non-Anaheim residents or residents far from the proposed shelter, it does not matter in terms of defining sustainable, realistic solutions. The scope of the proposed shelter and its impact on both the homeless population and the surrounding communities are being irresponsibly downplayed. The two armory shelters current serving the homeless will close down; according to Larry Haynes, the executive director of Mercy House, last year the two armories served over 2,000 people for the first time ever.

As an Anaheim resident has already stated, “this large-scale model begs questions such as:

  • Does this model import more homeless people into Anaheim than are already here?
  • Where do the homeless people go if the facility is filled beyond capacity?
  • Where do the homeless people go during the daytime?
  • What impact will the shelter have on businesses in close proximity?
  • What impact will the shelter have on schools, youth centers, and parks in close proximity?”

How many people will the Shelter accommodate?  Is 200 beds enough?  Are there enough parking spaces to accommodate some of the 2000 people who drive vehicles?  Is OCTA going to add more bus services?  The La Palma bus service has already a high ridership.  Will families with children be included and if so will the Strip Club close down?  What percentage needs mental services and how they will be incorporated into the community? Is an industrial area the adequate place for them? Will the homeless from Costa Mesa, HB, Santa Ana and other distant cities be forced to come to this center?

Spitzer’s proposal and the City Council support have created confusion and distress in my small neighborhood, and it is spreading to other neighborhoods in the radius of the proposed shelter, such as La Jolla in Placentia and Riverdale in Orange. The neighbors and business owners’ opposition at the council meetings has been minimal and overall sympathetic to the homeless, in comparison with reactions from other cities. It is not a question of these dissenting voices lacking noble feelings or compassion for the homelessness, as Ms. Murray implied in her speech.  It is a matter of their recognizing that the burdens to be borne by a city of over 330,000 have been placed most greatly upon them and them alone, while those from more politically powerful areas bask in the glory of their “noble sacrifices.”

The proposal has brought the reality of homelessness close to home. Most neighbors I have talked to recognize that something needs to be done to shelter the homeless population, especially with the increasing extreme weather conditions we are experiencing. However, the stigma about the homeless runs deep, and they do not understand or accept the choice of the shelter location. One of the question is why the Carl Karcher site bounded by Harbor and Anaheim Blvds., and the 91 and Carl Karcher Dr. (which used to be Romneya), already purchased by the city and in a centralized location, was dismissed.  (Did they figure out that there was too much money to be made there?)

They have legitimate concerns and they need to be heard and addressed. Mayor Tait and Councilman Vanderbilt need to take the leadership in addressing the concerns of the Rio Vista residents, and by doing so restoring some of their trust in the political process. The neighbors feel left out, betrayed by the people they voted in, and that this is Big Brother Government in action.   Ms Murray needs to explain to the neighbors that the shelter is not too close to their homes, and if they still think is too close, she needs to explain to them that it is okay.  A year ago or so a group of neighbors approached her about the river Cove trail extension from Lincoln to Glassell/Kraemer would be too close to their backyards.

The Rio Vista neighborhood was already feeling neglected as they have been asking for years for help to revitalize the run down strip shopping mall. There is an abandoned Ralph’s and the closest store to buy some groceries is a 7 Eleven. If the council intervenes in the market forces with the subsidies to Disney and hotel developers, why neighborhoods cannot get some kind of revitalization assistance?  Especially, why not now, when it could mitigate any potential negative impact of the shelter?

A meeting needs to take place, and by then the neighbors may understand the outcome of the studies that show that homeless shelters increase property values , and that normal safety levels are maintained in the surrounding communities. They may then openly welcome and support a shelter, although hopefully one of a more modest size.

Related posts are in the underlined words above.

About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly.