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.
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.