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Regarding the Homeless: Santa Barbara’s Loss, La Jolla’s Gain


Hot Topic Reset: Originally Published on April 25, 2012, by Cheri Rae

While in a Los Angeles home recently for a family event, I had a conversation with the couple next door who for years frequently visited Santa Barbara for a weekend getaway. These hard-working people of modest means saved up for their favorite splurge and, in typical tourist fashion, always enjoyed staying in our nice hotels, shopping, dining and strolling the waterfront. I had often given them suggestions about where to go and what to see, and they always reported back to me on their Santa Barbara adventures.

But never again. They told me that after their last trip a few months back, they will not return.

La Jolla, CA

They were shocked and offended to encounter homeless individuals trying to take their food at a sidewalk café, pawing through trash cans, and wafting their strong aroma as they passed by. “I am sorry for their situation,” said the woman. “But I am afraid and upset to deal with it during my little vacation. I don’t know what to do to help them.” From now on, reported her husband, they’re going to La Jolla. “It’s just as nice as Santa Barbara,” he said, “but we don’t have to deal with the homeless there. I can’t imagine what Santa Barbara is thinking, letting a nice place like that get completely ruined.”

When I told them about the shelters, the parking program, the RV campers, the lawsuits, the many housing projects built to house the homeless, they just shook their heads, and he noted, “It doesn’t make any sense for an expensive place like Santa Barbara to even try to take care of so many homeless people.”

One couple, one conversation, one conclusion.

64 Responses to “Regarding the Homeless: Santa Barbara’s Loss, La Jolla’s Gain”

  1. District Elections

    Right on. Too bad those who made these enabling decisions encouraging vagrants to come and stay in Santa Barbara all have lived well away from the problems they created. Look at the top names of those who support this activity and see where they live: on the Riviera, on the Mesa, in San Roque or funded by chauffeured Montecito money — none of them lived in downtown. You never hear any voices from the Downtown, Milpas or the Lower East and Lower Westside demanding we encourage more vagrants to come and stay in Santa Barbara. There is your answer: district elections for city council.

  2. laverne

    Wow. Those poor people having to see others going through the trash. The horror of it all.

  3. It’s a well known phenomenon that the Santa Barbara snobs, busily focusing their intentions on suing the city over the channel, and ending plastic bag use, think it’s their complete and total right to turn the city into a cesspool so as to be seen as noble in serving yet another stupid fauxgressive cause, that of taking on the nation’s homeless. Here.

  4. sbsurfer

    Good riddance. Too many conceited people live here. Last thing we need are more conceited tourists.

    • el_smurfo

      Unfortunately, the only Santa Barbara has going for it these days are “conceited tourists”. Just look at how the recent increase in bed tax revenue virtually saved the budget for this year. Besides, it’s hardly conceited to want to have a relaxing weekend in a beautiful town without being harassed, threatened or frightened just for having breakfast. The thing that all of these folks with good intentions seem to forget is that Santa Barbara is truly different than other towns and thus should be solving their problems differently rather than the generic California feel good programs.

  5. Anonymous

    My mother in law just avoids State but has given us much the same feedback. Can’t even get coffee downtown.

  6. Silver Shopper

    Downtown retail does need to take note if they wonder where all the shoppers have gone and where all the discretionary cash that used to support downtown has gone. … and why.

    Packing the streets with tourists and weekenders does not make this a real downtown heart of a city. And this city floats on retail sales taxes as a large part of its income.

    You would think more people within city governance would see this connection and do everything they can to make downtown retail more appealing to its core residents who do have discretionary cash to contribute.

    Even if they started a “Seniors Tuesday” (or whatever) with discounts or specials for seniors would be a step in the right direction and make sure on that day offered sufficient sense of safety and lack of harassment to attract this core shopping component back into downtown retail. During the week days, downtown streets feel like a ghost town.

    Lots of retired seniors in this town. You no longer see them shopping downtown or sitting in cafes and enjoying their own city any longer. Yet, it has so much to offer. There really does need to be a “Safe Senior” refurbishment of downtown SB.

  7. Silver Shopper

    Wow, those vagrants and pan-handlers having to see the disapproving shock and disgust from those they are harassing and scaring away from shopping downtown. The unfairness of it all!

  8. Conceited City Resident

    I admit it. Count me as one of those hating getting hassled by drunks and bums when I try to enjoy a downtown sidewalk cafe. I take my business up to Loreto Plaza, but this vagrant sprawl is moving in fast there too.

    Just look at the steps and lawns of Trinity Episcopal church any night to see more of this misguided enabling that encourages even more shiftless vagrants to feel entitled take over our town. Why should the members of Trinity Episcopal have the right to dump this problem on our laps instead of taking these people they claim to care about into their own homes?

    Charity begins at home, Trinity. Not in someone else’s backyard.

    • el_smurfo

      Probably sitting right next to you…Renaulds gets the money Esaus and Pierre Lafond used to take from me every weekend.

  9. Newly Residing

    We just moved to SB this past fall. We love our new city and all it has to offer. But the homeless people in all areas is a real problem. There have been times when I’ve been approached for handouts and haven’t felt safe. When we have visitors they are astounded by the # of homeless people in the tourist areas of town. I don’t know the answer, but seems there could be some solutions to housing or other help for these lost souls.

  10. Nice work if you can get it

    Sounds like a fair trade-off. Free room, board and medical care in exchange for a few nasty looks from conceited city residents. Where do I sign up?

    I will be the one with the sign: “Willing to stare down nasty looks for free food”.

    • Anonymous

      Over 500 people live on the streets and the shelters are full. Over 1000 people homeless in the region and only 300 free meals offered in the day-time on a regular basis. There is not remotely enough free room and board to substantiiate the hypothesis that people would leave if those things disappeared. Common sense dictates the opposite.

      • How many of these people are truly ‘ours’, meaning lived on our streets for years, or became homeless here? Lot of out of state ids among the free-range campers here.

      • Corporate Hdqtrs

        Please tell us more about what Carpinteria, Montecito, Goleta and Noleta are doing to house, feed and attract their share of vagrants to their communities? Santa Barbara Homeless Inc has done more than its fair share. No need for even progressives in Santa Barbara to feel guilty any longer. We’re done.

  11. Anonymous

    LOL! Your friends are in for a rude awakening. There are a significant number of homeless people in La Jolla. La Jolla just did a public bench experiment of their own that failed, to the point that there is a proposal to hire people to sit on benches. In fact, there is a group planning to open a shelter in Pacific Beach to help deal with the problem in La Jolla and Ocean Beach. La Jolla is much more spread out than SB, but there is big homeless population by La Jolla Village Mall and other areas. Most cities, including La Jolla, do not have an open main street like State here in SB. Perhaps before allowing the tale of two individuals as a representation of truth, it might be worth the time to actually call the folks that live in cities glorified as being problem free and see what theyt have to say about it.

    • Vagrant-Enabling Anon

      Good, We know where to send them now if our local bums keep giving us attitude that we aren’t doing enough for them.

  12. William Munny

    Sadly this simply seems like a lost cause at this point. Homeless, Inc. has grown itself into a real force politically in this town. They’ve taken over many of the leadership positions within the local democrat party and heavily influence who receives the financial backing and support. Thus you end up with officials who aren’t willing to do anything to actually reduce the homeless population here in town. Instead, you get program after program designed to “assist” the homeless with medical care, free food, shelters, etc. However, none of those programs do anything to actually reduce the number of homeless people on State Street begging for money and harassing the tourists. I’d say they’re harassing the locals too but the only locals that ever go downtown now are the ones who work here or are downtown for the nightlife.

    One of the best things to happen in a long time is the termination of the Redevelopment Districts. Although we can’t reverse the long term damage done to this town by Rob Pearson’s horrible management of the SB Housing Authority, at least he no longer has monopoly money from the RDAs to create more homeless shelters (thus even further reducing the local property tax base while simutaneously making SB even more attractive to the state’s homeless population).

    • Vagrant-Enabling Anon

      Munny, you nailed the homeless political hegemony in this town. But forgot one element: the voters who keep voting in the Democrat machine. All of this can change in the ballot box by starving bad practices out of our city government with every single vote that we still own.

  13. I love how the oh-so-entitle that call Santa Barbara their home has such misguided concepts of homelessness. I’ve been there my friend and it’s not as happy go lucky as the verbose elite would like you to think. As a matter of fact, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy…. Yet here at the VIEW, they think it’s ok to call it a expense paid vacation. Really? You say you’re ready to give it a go?
    This all leaves me wondering who the true losers are around here!

    • Vagrant-Enabling Anon

      We could take a vote, boycott boy.

    • True words, BB. Unfortunately, the vocal ones that read the “View” tend to be entitled, self righteous individuals. Someone without a home is still a person. Furthermore, the majority you don’t see. Most of the homeless I know in this town (and I know at least a few hundred) are locals, having lived here for years. On top of that, it isn’t an easy life. Sure, a very few number have given up and resorted to lower moral standards, but if you spent years trying to get back on your feet, you will eventually hit a breaking point.

      El smurfo and all the rest wouldn’t last a week on the streets, because most of them are the one’s getting the handouts. And the “Homeless Inc” thing that the site has touted is a joke. CALM, the Rape crisis center, and many other non-discriminatory non-profits are on there simply because they don’t make being sheltered a requirement for services. I’m surprised that the loose terms of what qualifies a “homeless Inc” organization doesn’t include police, fire or EMS.

      And to the rest, before you go respond, take this challange, load your car with whatever you feel you need, and just $20 in cash, then live out of it for a month. If you can’t do that, then you can’t claim the homeless in this town have it easy. If you do, I will gladly eat my words.

      • Demosthones Lantern

        Everyone comes to Santa Barbara homeless. They get jobs, have savings and find places to live. If you come and can’t find a job or don’t have sufficient money to stay on your own, keep moving until you can. SSI pays more than $20 a month so let’s talk facts; not hyperbole. Just ask your local liquor store who accepts these grifters monthly SSI checks. Hard not to qualify to get them.

        However you do make a good case for re-opening state institutions to house the people you talk about.

        Not sure where you got your sense of finger-pointing and entitlement from, Martin. Maybe you could explain this instead of passively-aggressively causing turmoil here. I’m listening. Where did you sense of insult and entailment come from?

      • el_smurfo

        It’s always nice to wake up to a MH screed. There are no more judgmental than the young and naive. The rest of us eventually grow up, get jobs/kids/mortgages and grow weary of paying people to pee on our leg and tell us it’s raining.

        You may have plenty of “local” homeless buddies, but those of us who read the police blotter start to notice a pattern…drug arrest, recently arrived to SB…assault, recently arrived to SB…property crime, recently arrived to SB. No one is going to tell me the large crowd of Portlandia refugees menacing passersby down by the Habit or De La Guerra Plaza are locals.

        As the pastor of Trinity church has recently learned, most of these people are not “down on their luck” in need of a hand up…they are addicts and often criminals in want of a hand out to pay for their next drink. Nobody is claiming this lifestyle is easy, but being an addict with a home isn’t exactly a basket of puppies either.

        Those of us who work hard to pay for your idealism don’t need to take a challenge from some self righteous kid. We just need a few more of our tax dollars back from the homeless machine to buy a new pair of gore-tex pants.

        • George Treycorn

          Very well stated, especially the self righteous kid part, dude probably grew up in ceto.

      • William Munny

        Your ignorance to what the homeless situation is really like here in town is fascinating given you claim to know several hundred homeless people in this town. Unfortunately, I don’t doubt that many of the homeless people have lived in SB for years. Why would they move on given the lifestyle opportunities created for them by Homeless, Inc.?

        The truth is most people in this town are compassionate. They’re more than willing to give a hand up to those individuals who lived in this town and then became homeless. However, the overwhelming majority of the local homeless population serviced by Homeless, Inc. are drifters that came to SB specifically for the great weather and handouts. Without these individuals, the employees of Homeless, Inc. would be out of jobs. So they enable the problem rather than solve it. Thus resulting in more homeless people coming to town, which Homeless, Inc. then trumpets to claim they need even more resources to grow their salaries (“We’re serving more people so we deserve to get paid more!!”) and service our “local” homeless population. How many of these people were already living here when they became homeless?

        I’d be okay with these programs if the drifters didn’t take up camp on State St., the beaches, and all the other places that make this town special. Homeless, Inc.’s typical response is “these people are humans too!” So because Homeless, Inc. wants to create higher salaries and jobs for themselves everyone else in town has to put up with being harassed by the Portlandia crew in front of the Habit as if they have some right to do so?

        • Ban the Blue Bus

          Police said NewBeginnings left flyers on all the RVs invading our town telling them they might qualify for their free services and to please enquire. The Avon Lady of Homeless Inc. Ding dong.

          • George Treycorn

            That thing is an eye sore and embarrassing! my out of town friends just look and ask what the heck is that about.

      • >>”Most of the homeless I know in this town (and I know at least a few hundred) are locals, having lived here for years.”<<

        I'm calling BS on this. You don't count as a "local" if you moved here to panhandle a few years ago.

      • Christopher

        I agree Henderson.

        Not many know how it feels being on the other side of the fence.

        I myself have been homeless being a displaced out of work stay at home father.

        Noone excepts housecare for any positions with merit. Not too mention even give regular hours at a rate of pay that could sustain someone at a level that would be much better.

        Some of these people actually are or were good people simply down on their luck or even less welcome in places that are not thriving morally.

        But it is hard to describe the true essence of a person by what we feel or think before we even know.

        Labeling is a hard thing to rub off even if it is incorrect.
        But treat someone the way you think they are instead of what they are actually long enough and I believe anyone can subvert to natures that are unbecoming.

        Anyways, heres to a Silver Spoon.
        At least while food is still on the table.

        • Rethinker Bob

          Stop treating people who work hard and make it with so much contempt, Christopher. Do you really think you are morally superior to those who make it on their own and expect the same hard work and diligence from others?

          Immigrants have come across our borders by the millions and “make it” every day of their lives. They don’t whine they are “down on their luck”. They work hard because they know they have to. Pass that on instead of scolding those who planned their lives with more care.

          • George Treycorn

            Its called the entitlement generation. part of what makes the food stamp Mr.hussein O. so fun.

  14. Vagrant-Enabling Anon

    These are not lost souls on our streets. They only lost the way to the multitude of shelters already operating in this town. Check out Homeless Inc in this town before you berate locals for not doing enough.

    They lost their way because they want money for booze and drugs instead, and prey on people who feel sorry for them. If you truly feel sorry for them being on the streets, stop enabling them to continue this life style. Make the shelters be the ONLY place they can get their continued handouts. It is your choice. Make it be their choice too.

  15. In the old days I heard rumors of bus tickets being given to the homeless. $50 bucks and a one way excursion to Union Station.

    • BagLady

      Indeed, $50 bucks and a train ticket was a former act of compassion because that vagrant was not going to find a meaningful life ihe/she expected to live on the streets in that town. Compassion was enabling them to move on because it just was not going to work for them to stay.

  16. Anonymous

    Things have gotten so bad that I now have at least one person in a truck or a van waiting for me and my neighbors to take out the trash every Thursday morning so they can scour through it. Sketchy.

    • BagLady

      A little personal presence and a police call should take care of this.

  17. You’ll vote to see who the real losers are?!?
    The commemorators here are truly priceless! Try getting these pompuos asses on board resolving any issue the city might have. Thanks VIEW! You’ve once again reminded me what’s wrong with our country!

    • Vagrant-Enabling Anon

      Voting for what’s wrong with this country? You got my vote, Boycott Boy.

  18. Pro-squat EdScat

    Over on EdScat, there is great hand-wringing about how sad it is that grifters can’t come to Santa Barbara and squat where ever they want. Please explain to me why this is sad? This is good news. It is good news to squatters to because it moves them on to make more productive choices for their lives.

  19. 3 star Homeless Shelters

    Grifters is a good word. They even have their own online magazine funded by local do-gooders who do not work or live near the messes they create. This keeps their network of grifter cronies apprised of where to come and where to avoid. A Michelin guide for state wide vagrant shelters, if you will.

    You can well imagine SB getting a 3 star status. And that is why this revolving door of grifters only goes one way – they come, get attitude and stay. Time to get wise instead of made to feel guilty just like those yokels are trying to do with their Carpenter Union signs. Calls for shame are misguided as the union’s current harassment.

  20. Philanthropist

    Fine people a hundred bucks if they give vagrants money. Vagrants are above or below the law, it doesn’t apply to them, the law only applies to people who have something to lose, so giving them a fine is the only way to get rid of the beggars.

    ps. Do-gooders should have to do the ‘poop-and-scoop’ thing behind their pet vagrants, it is quite disgusting on State St. in the wee hours of the morning.

    • Cause and Effect

      You get rid of beggars by not giving to them. You get rid of corrupt politicians by not voting for them. Life is simple, really. You want to eat, you find work. Why are vagrants and grifters primarily white males. What is with that? You never see Latinos on the street begging. Why do only white males sink into this street stupor?

      • I am houseless too! The only difference is that I give up most of my paycheck to someone else for the privilege of staying in their house. Some people have a hard time grasping that lifestyle that I live and would rather not give their money away. I live on the concept of “home being someone else’s house” That is the weird concept that you normalize in SB, because after all the rent you pay, it’s very challenging to buy your own property (I didn’t say impossible, but once you call your residence a “home” you start to concede this concept as a more permanent reality).

        • EU Calling

          You have chosen a European lifestyle. Most live rentals that have belonged to someone else for centuries. And few are worse for the wear because of that. Used to be in the US one would find a plot of ground and build their own house and farm for the rest of their needs.

          Don’t forget the switch to urban-industrial life is barely a hundred years old. There is plenty of cheap, vacant farmland all over the Midwest where you can find your independent solace by the stint of not much more than your own your grand-father’s or great-grandfather’s efforts.

          Look backwards, if you want to move forwards.

  21. Unfortunately there are homeless and our city councils have sometimes encouraged their loitering and panhandling activities in the heart of our downtown. State St. needs to be kept clean and safe for our local shoppers, cafe goers, visitors and stores. If the homeless could be accommodated elsewhere that is a start. More foot patrols on State St. might help too. Personally I was confronted at a wedding in NY ten years ago by someone whos main memory of Santa Barbara was “the vagrants on State St. were awful”.

  22. trey acorn

    Finally! something for the do gooders to whine about, heres hoping they own a biz that will be affected while there helping the helpless. they do not want help, they want handouts people. hello. there are a lot of municipalities that do not put up with this………… OH YA, LETS PAY SOME INFLATED PRICE TO DO A STUDY!

    • Bear's Lair

      I heard they just need a hug.

  23. Anonymous

    Would love to see local residents come together for a march and rally against Homeless Inc and the politicians who support this. Taking Back Our City!!

    • el_smurfo

      As had been previously mentioned, the Westside residents marched for additional safety measures in their neighborhood…They got bulbouts and brick crosswalks instead. Your government is largely not selected by you and definitely does not work for you. Enjoy your walk though…

  24. Maybe not a march, but an occupy kind of thing. Except we occupy public comment. Pick a day, get the word out, storm city hall, and everyone submit 2 mins of public comment to let the City know a) we know these aren’t ‘our own’ and you’ve encouraged too many to camp here. b) turn off the freakin’ spigot with Homeless, Inc already, c) the compassion gig is up and d) we’re watching you, and there are a lot of us! But that kind of thing only works if you all really show up on the appointed day…

    • Anonymous

      So you win and homeless services are shut down. Then what? When the number of homeless people increase even more as a result and they are panhandling more agrressivesly, stealing more aggressively, picking through more garbage cans, filling the ER’s and hospitals and jails because they are even more desperate, then what?

      • Anonymous

        They will likely leave town looking for a shelter, a meal and services elsewhere. Most importantly, Santa Barbara will no longer be a light house attracting the homeless from Seattle to San Diego.

        • Anonymous

          Not true. There are over 75,000 homeless people in the State and not a single city has the capacity to help them.

  25. High Society

    The whole point of being homeless is to keep moving. Vagrants need to keep moving until they find a setting where they can function on their own and no longer be vagrants. You can’t be a vagrant and demand someone else provides all your life necessaries.

    Either you are dependent upon the state and are a resident of a state institution, or you find where you can thrive on your own and under your own power. Grifting for drugs and smokes on the streets of Santa Barbara is a ticket to no where. Keep moving.

    These people are not “down on their luck”. They are down on working. And no, not everyone is “one paycheck away from homelessness”. They are one paycheck away from poor planning and living beyond their means. Get real people. 99% of homeless is a choice and a life style and the social safety net takes care of the rest.

    • Anonymous

      Good to know that the 38% that are severely mentally ill are there by choice.

  26. Corporate Hdqtrs

    Time to re-open state hospital care facilities. Nothing humane letting these people live on the streets, thank you very much ACLU. If anyone needs to feel guilty we just put a name on them. Send your local vagrant to the home of an ACLU supporter. Charity begins at home. Their homes.

    • I think it was Governor Reagan who closed the state mental hospitals. To save money. A conservative thing.

  27. grateful ex-local

    i just moved away from that town SPECIFICALLY because of the vagrant problem…… after 10 years of massive disappointment …….. its that bad and that horrifying!……esp. if you happen to be a woman walking alone, it feels completely unsafe ALL OF THE TIME….. though they may not often “attack you” , still they are extremely aggressive in VIBE and you always feel on guard and basically depressed……its impossible to even have a sense of civic pride! ALSO its hopeless for the children to be safe…… i would try and take my kids to the playground but all the parks are overrun by intoxicated people…… its a joke!……like the most unwholesome place in the world to try and raise kids…… the police and city council are nothing short of pathetic in their inability to keep the town truly protected…..(dont they have kids….. girlfriends…… wives????) even UCSB is a mecca for them… you can spend that kind of tuition on your child going to a place that isnt even safe, i’ll never know….. the whole town is just a total party GHETTO.

    there absolutely needs to be a NO- LOITERING LAW

    til then, ….. TOURISTS: if you want somewhere “romantic”……it aint here!

  28. Jesus Christ

    I am all for compassion and think a helping hand for the less fortunate is fine, but the homeless are not entitled to live by their own set of rules. Public urination, inebriation, screaming, littering. These are crimes when committed on public lands. You and I pay for these lands yet we cannot behave in this manner without being arrested. Compassion does not mean excusing wreckless and wanton behavior. If they homeless try to follow the rules well then I will help them find prosperity and hope. If they just want to trash up my town then I will take steps to remove them. Mental illness is not an excuse for criminal behavior. I say toughen the laws and clear them out!

    • PS. “That which you do to the least of my people, you do to me”