Canyon Homeless Shelter: will the OC BOS listen? UPDATE: Town Hall Meetings Calendar




Tomorrow’s vote of the OC Board of Supervisors on the purchase and sale agreement of the 1000 N. Kraemer property will pave the way for the proposed homeless shelter.  The unanimous support of the Anaheim City Council will facilitate this vote. The BOS and the City Council must have considered that the public in general is opposed to the placement of homeless centers near their communities. Choosing an industrial site has not appeased the reluctance of the Canyon neighbors, and there is an emergent significant widespread opposition.

The closing of the armories must have added to the urgency of addressing the homeless situation, which must have prompted these elected officials to bypass the process of engaging  the impacted neighborhoods, disregarding  their  concerns . The main spoke-person from the Council on this issue, Ms Murray, expressed the following last December:

“Any proposal from the county would need to include significant oversight from the city and substantial involvement from the neighborhoods that would be near any shelter,” Murray said. “The city has definitely been working in good faith in looking at various properties.”

The North OC Supervisors are the ones actively promoting the establishment of a shelter. It was Shawn Nelson who started the process and it was rejected by Fullerton.  Then the Kraemer location was found, which is in Todd Spitzer’s district. Anaheim had already considered a more centralized location, but then this was brought up:

“The Karcher property was just a possible option, but I think there are probably better options out there with an existing facility that makes more financial sense,” Tait said.

The BOS and City Council are determined to establish a shelter,  regardless of whether large permanent shelters are the best solutions  or not. If the Canyon neighbors and business owners are going to carry an exceptional share of the reality of being close to this shelter, then the policy makers and homeless advocates must listen to our concerns.

They need to hear people like Chris Vance, owner of Piano Empire, whose business is right next to the proposed site. This is a summary of Chris’ presentation tomorrow:

“…I have been selling pianos since my early 20’s.  It has taken me over 40 years to get to where I am now. What’s unique about my location and situation is I’m an onsite retail business owner, I work daily in the store, I own the building and land, and my store is at ground zero in relation to the proposed homeless center…. If the County of Orange purchases the property at 1000 N. Kraemer Place, my life will be forever changed.  My financial well-being and future lay in the balance.  I will lose millions of dollars.  A heavy price for me to pay for a homeless shelter.  Essentially…I will be the main “sacrificial lamb.”  The other businesses and property owners around me will also be sacrificial lambs.  We will all be impacted in a negative way… approximately 3 years ago I had to move from another location due to eminent domain.  My transition to Anaheim was extremely difficult.  At that time it was one of the hardest things I’d ever gone through…

What’s most frustrating for me…is that you, the board members (BOS), can decide my future.  What I’m afraid of…is you’ll convince yourself that I’ll be okay.  And, that the other business and property owners, will be okay too.  What will happen to me if a homeless shelter opens across the street?  Thinking positive, customers will still walk into my store, I will still sell pianos.  But, my traffic flow will easily decline by 20% which will cause me to go bankrupt.  As I previously mentioned, I’m 63 years old.  I’d like to retire in approximately 5 years.  My plan was to lease out my building.  However, who’d want to lease out my building if it was next to a homeless shelter.  If someone did, they’d want to pay a much lower monthly lease price.  Another problem, what kind of business could I lease to?  Re-zoning could change everything.  When the time comes to sell the building, its value will be greatly diminished…. I believe your intentions are good, but focused in the wrong place.  Please put yourself in my shoes.  If you do, you’d find this situation to be a catastrophic event, in which you could lose everything you’ve worked for.  It is also my belief that your board has already made ups it mind to buy this property.  My goal and wish is to stop it.  Until today, none of you knew me.  Yet, you have the power to put my life into a tailspin.  Please vote no to buying the Kraemer Place property…it is not the best location for the homeless anyway….

They need to hear the average resident, like one of my neighbors:

“Just yesterday, I was thinking about how we can help the homeless, not just put them in the equivalent to a 200 person Refugee Camp. At the same time, not encouraging their current life style via our actions.  Unfortunately, I do not see a clear cut path that could be followed. Homeless people do not become homeless because of one experience. They take a journey that can last for years. It is not just because they lost their family, money, self-respect or motivation to succeed in life accomplishments. It is because of all of those things and societies failure to see what is happening to them and take proper corrective action.  Thus, what can we do?

In general terms, start by rebuilding their self-respect. We cannot do that by rounding them all up, putting them in one isolated location and doling out care packages. All that will accomplish is to reinforce their low self-esteem. With caution and in baby steps we need to develop a program that changes the course of their journey. That includes, counseling, temporary housing, work, goal setting and reward. To get started, homeless individuals cannot be rounded up like cattle and moved to Mega Homeless Camps, like the one proposed in Anaheim. “

To find a practical solution we need a realistic view of the piano playerhomeless, not a criminalized nor a romanticized one.  We need to hear the positive efforts already being done by organizations like Coming Home Anaheim, an Interfaith-group that has moved more than 320 homeless neighbors off the streets. We need to hear whether the proposed shelter will be temporarily housing people while permanent homes are found, and/or it will be like the armories, where people line up every day. The BOS and the City Council need to reconsider the Kraemer location.

UPDATE:  Video of BOS meeting.

Related posts here and here.

About Ricardo Toro

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