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Life In The Vicinity of Casa Esperanza: Part I

Letter to the Editor provided by Sharon Byrne

Dear Santa Barbara Mayor and City Council Members: Attached are photos taken during the month of June around and near our business on Milpas Street (PDF left).

The transient problem on Milpas Street paints a sad picture of what is allowed to happen to a neighborhood when homeless and transient facilities are allow to operate without regard to the impact on the community.

I strongly support the Milpas Community Association’s call for a review of Casa Esperanza’s conditional use permit. If they are operating within their conditional use permit, then the City has failed to protect our neighborhood with strict conditions. And if they are not operating within their permit, then action must be taken.

I have attended a few Milpas Action Task Force meetings and found them a waste of my time – everything that goes wrong around Casa Esperanza is blamed by their staff on someone else – the economy, liquor stores, not enough police – I have even heard them blame local businesses and property owners because they do not do enough to patrol their own properties!

Casa Esperanza is a magnet for transients, including those released from jail and then brought into our community – a program to which I believe the City has made a financial contribution. Imagine my feelings at realizing my tax dollars help bring more transients into our area. 

I ask the City Council to do more to help the local community in the Milpas Street area. Casa Esperanza should be held to a strict review of their use permit; police budgets should be increased to help create more patrols in the area; and finally the City needs to recognize the burden it has placed on our neighborhood by allowing Casa Esperanza to operate.

Jed A. Hendrickson, CM, AICA
Santa Barbara Monumental Co., Inc.
3 N. Milpas St.
Santa Barbara, CA 93103

27 Responses to “Life In The Vicinity of Casa Esperanza: Part I”

  1. Anonymous

    I had a bad experience at the car stereo shop on lower Milpas. Good shop- bad location. Took my business to Goleta. Won’t shop at that Trader Joes either.

  2. The homeless run people like anon above off. The businesses suffer, go under, and the area becomes boarded over. Jobs are lost, people leave the area. The homeless, having been left to roam unfettered by the libs, Casa, and the courts, will then have taken over an entire neighborhood all for themselves. Why do multi-generational businesses have to be run out like this????? Bringing in FELONS? What the hell is Casa thinking????

  3. “I have attended a few Milpas Action Task Force meetings and found them a waste of my time.”

    That statement is so emblematic of the author and her style of cooperation and community-based problem solving from the cheap seats.

  4. Duh-so-apt

    The author is a man, and owns a business that has been here since 1931. He clearly states he’s been to meetings with the shelter, and all they do is blame everyone else and do nothing to improve the conditions they’ve caused. What about this is hard for you to understand?

  5. Pointed request

    The thought of installing pigeons spikes on all possible seating/squatting spots comes to mind. Crown of Thorns landscaping strategically placed. Deterrence may work better than attempts to discourage the incorrigible.

  6. Anonymous

    I’d like to see the people who invited all these “homeless” to our city to either live with them for a week or take them in–that starts with Lady Ridley Tree and her ridiculous funding of the Homeless in Santa Barbara website that offers an open invitation to the “homeless” across the nation. Then add in Mike Foley–who has sure carved out a well-paid career by growing his business of homelessness, and his facilitators, Helene, Grant, Bendy, Paul Casey, and Marty Blum for starters. This has become so offensive, and I really applaud the efforts of the MCA and sympathize with the decent business people just trying to make a living in a SB area that has turned shockingly into inner city LA–just as predicted.

  7. Blaming the Casa again…..
    Sure they have thier share of problems, which the rest of the city is facing as well. Instead of directing the focus toward the lack of accountability at SBPD HQ, or the prima donna attitude at City Hall, the media would rather find the easiest scapegoat and call it a day.
    What about “safe parking”? What ever happen to the ride along frenzy and “On Patrol”? You know you can’t begin to fathom the unreported crime happening around the city during the tourist season. Of course now that the Sound is out of print, that stuff is will never see the front page or even the back page for that matter.

  8. Voice for Milpas

    How sad that we are expected to sacrifice our businesses, homes, safety and general sense of well being for the “greater good”. Life in the Milpas Corridor has steadily been degraded by the presence of Casa Esperanza. No question our city needs to provide these services but under one roof with no rules, no expectations and under the watch of a director who refuses to take any responsibility for the impact of his business on this neighborhood? Seriously? Give us tax paying hard working folks a break and stop insulting us with arguments like people will die. People will die if we operate that shelter with rules and expectations and enough security that will protect the neighborhood?? I welcome the board members of Casa to come on down from their Montecito perches and live it with us for a few days….

  9. Anonymous

    everytime I’m on milpas i have to encounter homeless asking for money. At one time if you said no, they alked away, now they argue with you its scary and I see it all the time, try shopping at Trader Joes…or worst buy gas at one of three gas stations on lower Milpas, they come right up to the car, its not even safe. I believe in programs for the homeless, why are the other programs not having the same types of problems in the neighborhoods surrounding the homeless shelter programs?
    I do believe that this is a problem that has really gotten out of hand. I am not saying that the milpas community is the only community with homeless. however visually, and shopping in this area which I now hesitate to do, only when i have to,,,,this area has really gotten bad.,

    • Anonymous

      Please don’t blame Casa Esperanza for the problems. I think Casa Esperanza should focus only for homeless people who really need help to incorporate into our society. Drug addicts and alcoholics should be referral to a different shelter where they get the help they need. I strongly believe most homeless people are taking advantage of Cada Esperanza. Casa Esperanza and staff are just trying to help ans they shouldn’t be blame for the irresponsible homeless people.

  10. Class act

    Those most known to support and defend this center do not want this activity in their own backyards, so they give money instead to put it somewhere else. This is not community support. This is community avoidance at someone else’s expense. No compassion motivates the placement of this shelter or its activities as far away from your own lives, while you just send in checks and pose for photo ops on Thanksgiving.

    Casa on Milpas represents the desire to keep this activity out of their own lives, streets and gardens. And for that reason, there is no reason any neighborhood should have to put up with this uninvited intrusion.

    If the people of Milpas area were bagging to have this put into their midst, it would be one thing. But it is only the people of Montecito, Hope Ranch or other wealthier suburbs who are the ones begging for this activity to even exist in our town. Therefore, it must be relocated closer to those who want Casa to survive because Milpas did not ask for Casa and does not want Casa.

    Put Casa where the people funding it can best harvest their rewards. Put this activity in the Montecito Upper Village, if Birnum Woods CC refuses to use part of their golf course for a vagrant tent city.

  11. Come on Lady Ridley Tree

    Walk the talk! You sit on that board, write big checks (how do you feel about $250k of that going to one board member, and another $150k to Mike Foley, but they can’t afford security to stop their ‘clients’ from assaulting the neighbors????) Why not move your beloved Casa to your own yard? You’ve got room! Let the inmates play in your asylum! We don’t want them here, and never did. YOU forced them on us. Let’s see you stand up in the next Planning Commission hearing on Casa Esperanza, and push that ‘let the homeless eat cake and roam free’ line!

  12. Thank you, Mr. Hendrickson, for standing out and up and speaking about what’s happened and happening to the lower Milpas area. The City Council may pay attention to businesses as it does not to residents.

    This is an area that should be attractive and walkable: close to the beach, a ball field and the hotel, small local restaurants, Tri-County Produce, post office and even a zoo. I have a PO Box — walking there or to the beach is not a reasonable option. I bought my house before Casa Esperanza was established; I did not oppose the Casa — people do need help and the Rescue Mission had seemed an okay neighbor. I do now wish that I had known. With the C. E., the neighborhood has changed and become often hostile, if not sometimes downright dangerous-feeling to walk around. Were I buying now, I would _never_ buy in this area. Those board members of the C. E., names not readily apparent (or at all?) on the C-E site, spit in the faces of those of us who live here; the Council abets them.

    I do not belong to the M. C. A., but appreciate its efforts and shall become a paid member.

    • I spend much time in the Milpas area and Funk Zone visiting family,friends and conducting business. One of my adult children lives on South Milpas and I must admit feeling very uncomfortable walking from my car to his front door when visiting his family. There are obviously intoxicated, filthy, wild-eyed people all up and down the street.On a recent visit during the middle of the day I stepped out into the curb only inches away from a used hypodermic needle. I guess the upside of all the urine and spit on the streets is that I never wear sandals or open-toed shoes in Santa Barbara. Had I been wearing less protective footwear I could have been exposed to a blood born disease. The bottom line is that Casa Esperanza may have been built with good intentions but it is nothing more than a magnet for desperate, irresponsible wretched human beings who come to Santa Barbara from parts unknown to prey on the kindness and generosity of the responsible, law-abiding people living and working along the Milpas Corridor.

  13. SB Native

    While we are at it lets see if we can shut down the County Bowl! They are at the top of Milpas and every few days is seems that there is some event which impacts if I can park in front of my house. Thousands and people parade past my front door, the litter piles up as they walk past. Afterwards drunk people stumble into my yard and urinate and defecate – or simply stand in my yard and yell. My car windows have been broken by beer bottles, my car had be dented many times, and my mailbox has even been stolen. There have even been times that drunk people have fallen asleep in my yard. So…. please while you are screaming at the City to make Milpas a better place include a real problem – the over privileged drunk patrons of the SB County Bowl! Oh wait I am sure Sharon and her homeless hating friends will never do that because the Bowl brings in money for the city so for that we can put up with just about anything. Its amazing that somehow we think the solution to Casa is to close it down. I guess most of you are not from here. Since I was born here I guess I have more rights than most of you transients. Nonetheless, before there was a Casa – Milpas was very much the same. There were a ton of homeless wandering around. In fact, there was a time we had “hobo village” over by the zoo. Things haven’t gotten worse… we just have someone to blame. Thanks Sharon you’re a real hero!

    • I hope you have called the police and reported anyone who has damaged your property. I also encourage you to document all human defecation in your yard.DNA tests make it possible to identify the culprit. I am sure you have a camera in your pocket. If not, the person next to you will undoubtedly have have one.By documenting the incidents of crime caused by SB Bowl attendees you will make it easier for the community to hold the SB Bowl responsible for damage to the community caused by it’s patrons. I am confident the Sharon Byrne and the MCA is opposed to all destruction of private property, health and sanitation problems created by public urination and defecation, and the stealing of mailboxes.

      • Sharon

        Amen, Mrs. Jones. I applaud your suggestions.

    • el_smurfo

      If you’ll read your history, you’ll find that the “hobos” of the Child’s Estate era, or even of the 80s when I grew up here were very different from the aggressive, entitled generation of imported homeless we now seem to have. The hobo jungle was a well organized camp of responsible, but down on their luck, men. In my youth, my Father worked in a job where he interacted with the “Lower State” homeless daily and I recall they were all sad, yet generally polite individuals, not menacing addicts defacing public and private property. Our policies have made us a magnet for the worst type of person who prey on the good natured, naive generosity that seems to grow from living in such a beautiful town. Until we start electing people who are able to make reasonable cost/reward calculations about the future of our town, I fear the slide will only accelerate in the downward direction of our State and National economy.

      • You are right about the homeless being imported. I invite others to survey the homeless and ask them where they are from. It isn’t Santa Barbara.

    • Since when has the County Bowl had events daily, let alone 24/7 impacting the area? Opps not at all; seems to be twice a month; check the schedule http://www.sbbowl.com/ and be prepared.

    • The street is public, why don’t you park in your driveway or garage? I agree that drunk people are annoying, but so are Nimbys. I hear from people that visit from out of town how much we live in a bubble and complain out damn near everything. When people have to wait through one red light, the traffic is horrendous… If someone asks for money, their safety is at risk.? … I suggest stop complaining and be proactive

      • Hmmm...what????

        The street is public = the right to trash cars parked on it? Is that how it works in your neighborhood? Be proactive = neighbors are responsible for dealing with aftermath of problems inflicted on them? Are you on the Dem Central Committee, or working for a non-profit? Because that sure sounds like their talking points.

  14. Bent Over

    Bendy White (akaTeam Flacks) must be replaced next city council election. Votes matter and new board majorities matter. Just one person who allows the homeless agenda to take over again (Cathy Murillo) can destroy a lot in a very short time. Start thinking now who you want to replace Bendy White – who has been a total disappointment. Did not see this one coming.

  15. Well, we have now heard the same thing told in 50 different ways with virtually no ideas for alternatives. I agree that there is a problem but I also think that it probably isn’t within Casa Esperanza’s power to solve it. As some people have rightly pointed out, there doesn’t seem to be any effort underway to help homeless people to stop being homeless.

    A couple of months ago I was driving up the coast and Camp Roberts appeared on the right:

    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2012/01/14/1907999/barracks-demolition-roberts-camp.html

    These barracks and the “attached little town” have been vacant except for caretakers for quite some time. I think setting up a town like that (or better yet using that town) which would receive homeless people from all parts of the state would be a great solution. This “town” would be away from other towns and thus away from alcohol and drugs. If the comings and goings were very monitored, if there were alcohol and drug treatment centers onsite and job training and jobs… If the government set up some small factory that manufactured something the government needed… This kind of a situation would be a win for all. Casa Esperanza could still be here, welcoming homeless for a day or two and then giving them the option of moving on or entering this life rehabilitation program. If they agreed then they would board the Casa Esperanza bus to “Camp Roberts” to start a new a life. Right now would be perfect. One good barracks could be built and homeless labor could be used to construct the others.
    Just a thought…

  16. I had to pepper spray one of these vagrants when I was getting gas on
    lower Milpas awhile back. Normally I wouldn’t even stop in the area but
    I was running on fumes and had no choice.
    I was at the outer most pump closest to the road and almost invisible to the clerk inside.
    This guy with a day pack comes up to me and asks for money.
    He didn’t look to bad. Clean shaven, short haircut, you’d never guess he was homeless.
    I gave him a few bucks and he was happy.
    Then one of his friends walks up and does the same.
    This guy looked like a real freak…scary doesn’t even come close.
    I told him I gave my last spare change to his buddy over there and
    he started yelling, waving his arms, jumping around, etc.

    At one point I thought he was about to assault me so I went to grab a can of pepper spray
    I keep in the glove box and let him have it right in the face.
    He went down like a sack o potatoes coughing, gagging, puking.
    I didn’t even finish putting in the $50 worth of gas I paid for (maybe $30 or a little better).
    I hung up the pump and took off.
    I won’t be back in that neighborhood ever again for any reason.
    These people are dangerous and need to be removed or someone
    is going to be seriously hurt.
    I recommend people boycott that area entirely.
    Maybe then they’ll get the message up there in the boardroom.