Cord Bauer, San Clemente
San Clemente does not have a prison. We don’t have a mental institution, and we don’t have the authority to decide if persons who are caught doing crimes in San Clemente are punished or not. All of the above power resides with the State of California.
But California has given up this responsibility for the last few years, instead saying that our laws have been too harsh and too unfair. AB 109, Prop 47 and Prop 57 have changed the way we incarcerate people and have reclassified crime. You can now get caught stealing a $949 television with heroin in your pocket and you’ll be issued a misdemeanor citation.
Los Angeles and San Diego are cleaning their sidewalks with bleach to prevent a Hepatitis A outbreak. The Santa Ana riverbed by Angel Stadium has its own “tent city.” More than a third of the people there were let out of prison within the last year. Here in San Clemente, our police services have been fighting “encampments.” There are people who put up tents near San Clemente High School, up and down Pico valley, by the beach or anywhere there’s open space.
We should use our Code Enforcement to contact all private property owners who may be a target of encampments. The sheriff can’t remove an encampment from private property without having consent on file of the owner, even if they’re a fire and safety hazard.
Second, adopt the new ordinance created by Dana Point that prevents unlicensed sober living homes from operating in their city. It’s unfortunate that when sober living home residents break the rules or run out of insurance money, they’re often tossed out onto our streets. With no place to go, they’re a target for drug dealers and soon are added to our homeless population.
Next, hire a city prosecutor. Our own in-house lawyer can focus on the bad actors who refuse to leave our town, and when they’re busted, can make sure that they’re prosecuted. If not, the “system” will likely reduce their charges, and they’ll be committing more crime again in no time.
Last, vote against any politician who is soft on crime, even if it means going against your own party. The safety of San Clemente is not a partisan issue.