Milpas on the Move by Sharon Byrne
Don’t Mess With Milpas!
In April, several buildings on Milpas received a thorough dousing in some lousy graffiti. I say lousy because it wasn’t anything artistic. Nothing original. Just scrawls. If you’re going to risk getting seriously busted doing graffiti, at least aspire to be Banksy-esque. There’s no achievement in juvenile scrawls. 3 year-olds can do that…
One of our merchants called me the next day – he’d caught the guy on video. The merchant asked me to connect him to the police, and I did. He turned over the tape, and the Nixle alerts went out. This merchant has a high volume of consumer traffic, and asked some of his regulars if they knew the vandal. Turns out several did. Santa Barbara, is, after all, a fairly small community. So the merchant gave the id to the police, and pushed for an arrest.
This particular merchant doesn’t want a bunch of accolades or acknowledgements, so we’ll leave it quietly at this note of gratitude. We’re happy for Milpas to acquire a reputation of busting graffiti vandals. Don’t mess with Milpas!
Vandalized property owners can get restitution for vandalism damage. It’s handled by the District Attorney’s office. You can find out more here: http://www.countyofsb.org/da/vw_compensation.html
Milpas Outreach Project Aims High, and Scores.
Problem: What do we do about the chronically homeless remaining on Milpas, or anywhere in the city for that matter? Add the following constraints:
-They’re banned from all local homeless facilities for repeat poor behavior.
-Life on the street has become a way of life. Change is frightening, and difficult.
-Multiple contacts with Police and Fire create continued detrimental behavior effects on the community hosting them.
Move them out of homelessness in six months or less.
Milpas Businesses, Restorative Police, Mental Health, Common Ground outreach volunteers, formerly chronically homeless, Legal Aid, Casa Esperanza, Veterans Administration (from LA), C3H, and more.
We’re batting about .400, which is astonishing, given the fact that some have been homeless for decades. The business community on Milpas has stepped up: we’ve paid for detox, and for driver’s licenses at the DMV so they could have ID to get on housing lists. We’ve written a grant for one, and are advising him how to create a micro-enterprise. We’ve hired another at a Milpas business to provide income and a sense of purpose. Bureaucratic hurdles in accessing programs have been cleared. People formerly at odds are working together. Progress is being made.
I will write about this more in-depth in July, as the project closes in June. Honestly, it’s giving me hope that a community can solve this problem for itself.