Jordan “Proud of the Kraemer Plan?” How about the Ability to show Compassion?




As the proposed homeless shelter is reaching the final stages of being approved, many neighbors are still reluctant, skeptical or angry. A main reason is that this project continues its route to a resolution as scripted, aimed at providing immediate shelter and a pathway to stop being homeless, without venues to engage the immediate residents in a respectful and productive manner. The last community forum at the Eastside Christian Church on September 30th was a repetition of the same pattern of the first one: minimum dialogue. See the reaction of a resident here.

The traditionally controversial shelter model required a cosmetic sense of public participation, preventing the immediate residents from exercising a meaningful role in a discussion on solutions. The absence of feasible alternatives, according to the experts, may have convinced the policy makers that the shelter is the best solution right now.The predominant role of elected officials has been decisive.

It is commendable that local politicians are addressing homelessness. In the words of one of our council members: “As leaders, we have a moral obligation to serve those in our community who are struggling to meet basic needs of food, shelter and clothing. The homeless population includes children and families, veterans, emancipated foster youth and those who are struggling with mental health and other disabilities.”

Kris Murray from TW Local EditionThese statements are from Kris Murray’s newsletters, which began with this introduction:

 “As we continue the public dialogue on a year-round, full-service homeless shelter in Anaheim, through public meetings and a discussion with area residents, business and stakeholders, I hope residents share my desire for this proposed shelter to be the best that exists anywhere in the country.”

Addressing homelessness in a sensible manner could enjoy broad support from the public, if the public is engaged. Most people would be willing to make sure that not only 200 people are off the streets, and given the required assistance, no matter what their condition are. Not only families with children, veterans but also those with behavioral, mental, addiction problems. The shelter could be “the best anywhere in the country”, but you need to involve the immediate neighborhoods.

The proposed Shelter and Multiple Services Center Management and Operation plan, and the  Mitigated Negative Declaration, have not eliminated the opposition to the shelter, or fully satisfied the concerns of the majority of the nearby residents.

A business owner, from the Canyon area where the shelter will be located, writes the following:

“The LA Times characterized the Canyon as second only to the Irvine Spectrum in the potential to attract high-wage jobs to the area. Now the Anaheim City Council sits silent as the Canyon “Center for Advanced Technology” is trashed in the press by County Supervisor Spitzer calling it “dirty warehouses and a strip club.” Nothing could be further from the truth. But not a word of public response from Mayor Tait or the Anaheim City Council.”

Rio Vista residents describe in a letter, recently sent to Councilmember Vanderbilt, the mini skid-row situation taking place in the rundown shopping center:

“The shopping mall has become a hangout for homeless individuals who use the former Ralph’s breezeway as shelter from the elements. They appear to be openly involved with substance abuse doing what is called a “bong”, without fear or intimidation of police interference as demonstrated by their accumulation of personal property, trash and waste, physical and verbal altercations.

It is especially disappointing to those of us who we grew up in this area, chosen to buy homes in the neighborhood to be close to our aging parents, but can’t allow our parents and children to walk to the shopping mall due to the lack of family friendly shops and the uncertainty of their safety.”

Will Ms Murray meet with these neighbors and hear these type of concerns, or will they be dismissed as heartless NIMBYers? Will she finally live up to her words?:

“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.”

In spite of her contradictory statements and disregard for the neighbors near the shelter, and her overall lack of compassion on the issues determining the well-being of the city as a whole, I salute her commitment to end homelessness. Her compassion and mercy, as expressed below, will hopefully convince herself that homelessness need to be addressed not only in a forgotten area of East Anaheim, but in every district in the county:

“Together we can successfully support the county in this effort and make a genuine difference in the lives of so many in need – who are just waiting for those of us with the ability to show them compassion and mercy.”

homeless harassed by hampton

Was the dismissal of the Karcher property — a much better location for the homeless population — a show of compassion and mercy? The lack of transparency with what happened with that property and the information that councilmember Brandman was responsible for the change of location, make his statement at the CA-46 debate,  of being “proud of the Kraemer plan” distasteful. How could the self-appointed city homeless liaison with the county and candidate for congress, Jordan Brandman, be proud of dismissing a property that was purchased for a homeless shelter and ready to be used much sooner than the odd Kraemer location?

About Ricardo Toro

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