Save Mary’s Kitchen, in Orange!

Pictures of Mary’s Kitchen in action from the Register and the Voice of OC

Friend of the blog Joel-Steven Hammond wrote me a couple days ago, about the City of Orange’s plans to shutdown longtime homeless-feeding establishment Mary’s Kitchen:

I’ve sung for these guys on Christmas Day since 1995. Twenty-six consecutive years of service, even when my busy Decembers were slammed with work. My children grew up with humility serving food to the homeless on Christmas in the middle of their annual gift haul. Both Mary herself and George from Tulsa Ribs (who donated food) were alive when I started. We CANNOT let Mary’s Kitchen be legislated out of existence by heartless elected officials! 😢

This was news to me, but I see that Brandon at the Voice of OC, and Tess Sheets at the Register have been all over it, and you should read their three articles if you care about it.  Myself, I can contribute this:

The biggest complaint of the Orange City Council (a Council dominated by homeless-hating NIMBYs like Murphy and Alvarez) is the number of police calls generated from the Kitchen and the surrounding area – reportedly 162 calls in the first half of the year, which sure sounds like a lot.

Well, have you ever been to Mary’s Kitchen, or to the Orange Police Station?  They are practically across the street from each other.  Basically the Council is bitching that “A cop has to walk across the street nearly every day to take care of some little situation.”  Doesn’t sound like such a big deal that way.  Plus, this obviously confines a lot of the nuisances associated with homelessness into a small area instead of spread all over town as it would be if the Kitchen closes.  A small area ACROSS FROM THE POLICE STATION.

Scroogelike Mayor Murphy pouts, “Twenty-some years of a lease at $1 a year really demonstrates the city’s commitment to these sorts of services and willingness to partner.”  Sure, and so why should that change?  Why should Orange change from a city that provides these services to the homeless into one that does not?  Is homelessness going away?  No, it is not.  This is as short-sighted as clearing off the riverbed was three years ago.

Brandon’s first article, from three weeks ago, gives plenty of arguments from both the city’s side and the Kitchen’s side, as does Tess’ piece from SaturdayBrandon’s new piece from yesterday details the legal trouble coming for the city if they go through with this eviction, quoting from a letter from Brooke Weitzman, legal heroine of the People’s Homeless Task Force:

“In the midst of a global pandemic, as people on our streets dying at twice the rate of 2019, and access to safe food or clean water is limited, we are shocked that without a single public meeting the City of Orange seeks to close the only service within its borders for our most vulnerable residents in violation of the recently renewed lease agreement and the law,” Weitzman wrote.

In the letter, Weitzman argues the recent steps the city took to terminate the kitchen’s agreement with the city — which is to lease a public, industrial-area space off Struck Avenue for $1 a year — was done so “with disregard for the discriminatory impact, the obligations under the (California Environmental Quality Act), the lease agreement, and (the city’s) Housing Element.”

“The City appears to intend to starve unhoused persons of critical resources needed to survive,” the letter states.

I’m not gonna write any sentimental shit here because that’s not what we do on this blog.  If you’re free tonight, and not helping with the Jordan Brandman Recall, and have a problem with the City of Orange booting this invaluable, decades-old institution, then you should probably show up at tonight’s Orange City Council meeting and give them a piece of your mind:

6pm tonight (Tuesday July 13)
Orange City Hall
300 East Chapman
Just east of Glassell and Watson’s Drugs
(Who, we’re sad to report, turned out to be irresponsible anti-mask agitators during the Time of Covid.)


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.