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Don’t Mess with Milpas, Part I

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.

Wish granted:

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:

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.

The Mission:

Move them out of homelessness in six months or less.

The Team:

Milpas Businesses, Restorative Police, Mental Health, Common Ground outreach volunteers, formerly chronically homeless, Legal Aid, Casa Esperanza, Veterans Administration (from LA), C3H, and more.

The Results:

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.

9 Responses to “Don’t Mess with Milpas, Part I”

  1. Nancy McCradie

    For so many years I have advocated for a 24 hour location for the motorhomes on the streets. Living in cars and motor homes is a valid shelter. It is just not good to have to live on the open streets with them. The Parking Program is a great help for the people who live in these vehicles but when they have no where to go in the day time but the streets it really is not the best solution for them and/or the City of Santa Barbara. There are places that could be developed and for the people who live in this way, they could pay a third of their income for a temporary place to stay as they move up into conventional housing. It also would give the people who have to sleep on the streets some incentive to save money for a vehicle and so onward and upward. The cost of this project would be the acquisition for the land but sweat equity and volunteerism would keep the costs down building the spaces, digging the trenches for sewer placement, electricity boxes and so forth. The airport drive in could be one of those places. Just saying folks. Housing is the answer and these motor home parks are just one sensible project to move forward at this time. Shelters are not really the answer for many people. But this would be.

    • christopher caci

      Most people who live in vehicles do so because they can’t afford housing. You are suggesting that these people pay 1/3 of an SSI check that totals 356.00 a month so that you don’t have to be inconvenienced in some way? What gives you the right to dictate who can or cannot park on a public street; the operative here is “public?” It’s people like yourself who haven’t a clue as to the facts, yet offer solutions to problems that are really none of your business. Your motives are clearly self-serving. Ask yourself if you’d be so adamant in paying 1/3 of your income to assuage the self-serving desires of another.

      • Career opportunists

        Nancy is Bob Hansen’s wife who both have made careers demanding free handouts in this town. Enough of them.

    • No residential use of SB streets

      How many people now consider the over-night parking program their permanent niche in Santa Barbara? This program failed on all counts and needs to be terminated.

      The streets of Santa Barbara are not zoned for residential use. If you can’t afford permanent shelter in this high-cost housing area or fail to qualify for the 20% affordable housing units in this town, this is not the town where you can just park anywhere you want and stay at everyone else’s expense.

      • Anonymous

        Now on Fourth of July Weekend, we have campers all over the place in my neighborhood, not all homeless. There’s one RV, complete with a big boat attached to it, that is “borrowing” electricity from the house it’s parked in front of, with the cord nicely taped down on the sidewalk. Anything goes around here these days.

  2. christopher caci

    To the person batting 400 . . . I am a senior citizen. I am a senior citizen in need of housing assistance who as many like me, are told the waiting list may very well extend a few years longer than the time I have left to be in need. Despite the fact that I’ve spent decades as a contributing member of society in the performance of my career, We have to take a back seat to those who haven’t contributed at all other than as the dedicated dubious consumers of liquor or illegal drugs in conjunction with patented drugs supplied by Pharmaceutical companies for patented psychological disorders. Never mind what came first, the chicken or the egg, was it in fact the disorder or the prescribed drug for that disorder. Why is this, especially when I see handicapped are also being discriminated against, and not just the physically handicapped, but Reagan’s kids as well—not to be confused with Jerry’s—those of whom are deemed socially incompetent with mental and emotional problems and are relegated to temporary housing in the ‘Puff Unit’ of our beloved county’s penal institute. How dare they display their schizophrenia in a tourist town! So again I ask why this is.
    So it would seem, from the sidelines anyway, that the answer must be related to money. Could it be that I’ve stumbled upon what is indeed a cottage industry; treating those who are labelled as dually diagnosed by rewarding them—oh, did I say rewarding—by assisting them with housing. When has enabling an alcoholic ever worked? Even the medical profession has repeatedly admitted their own impotency in the implementation of successful treatment for this disease, a disease of which there is no known scientific cure, yet there are still numerous enterprises that continue to emerge to pretend to do so and they’re as numerous as the empty bottles of Taaka in the dumpsters of assisted housing projects occupied by the recipients of assisted housing. Somebody’s making bank from all those monies being poured forth from the Federal fountain of opportunities. Perhaps those who make up the pantheon of those contracted to and blanketed by federal grants programs that never have, don’t, and are not likely in any future scenario, to work, thereby perpetuating what must assuredly be a very lucrative cottage industry.
    And Wheelchair Mary, homeless, mentally incompetent, in a local park, in the middle of a night, any night, drops out of her chair to the ground, lifts her skirt and pulls down her pants to urinate behind a bush, a hundred feet from a locked restroom and as she struggles to pull up her pants, two cops descend upon her shining their 1,000,000 candlepower spot lights upon her and issue her a ticket. Too bad she’s not a substance abuse commodity.

  3. Anonymous

    When I was homeless I knew it was a waste of time to wait for some help to come along from the government. If you find yourself in that situation, and before you say you never will, be careful it can happen to anyone anytime for any number of reasons, but if it happens to you do two things: 1) forget about the government assistance too many strings attached and 2) find your friends they will help you if you are serious and want to get off the street. And 3) forget the religious help it’s a scam believe in Jesus and we’ll help you. Scam. Sick scam actually. And 4) keep a low profile we live in a society that hammers on the poor and less privileged. 5) find a vehicle to camp in it’s way better than a tent. That’s more than two but you’ll need all the help you can get.

    Just focus on working any job you can find and all will be well if you don’t have an iPhone, tv, expensive car, storage units, or advise-giving well-meaning relatives. And finally when someone tells you to get a job you bum ask if they have one if not tell them to eff off.

    • Can't cash an attitude check

      No wonder you are having a hard time. NO, you cannot live in your car on Santa Barbara street. Eff off if you try.