Sandra Weaver, San Clemente

I ran across a Facebook post on March 12 from someone who had used the restroom at the Talega Ralphs store. She saw a homeless man drinking wine out of one of those boxes. She was told this happens regularly, and her comment was something like “What is America coming to?” What we as a nation have “come to” is a nation of people who lack compassion and look down on those who are less fortunate, often labeling them as “lazy.” We have not been proactive in making sure people who need medical or psychological help can get it.

This is brought to light by the lawsuit filed against the cities of San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Irvine and Aliso Viejo because the plaintiffs claim these cities have not done enough to provide for a shelter. According to a report by the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, the homeless mortality rate has spiked from about 120 in 2014 to more than 210 last year.

San Clemente continually defied SB 2, which mandates cities at least zone areas to allow for adequate homeless shelters, until last year. This litigation costs cities tens of thousands of dollars. And all because our elite San Clementeans don’t want “those people” around here.

With all of the rain and cold weather we have been experiencing this winter, can anyone really snuggle under their covers and not think of those out in the rain and cold who have no shelter?

I am sure many sleep very well, but I don’t. “Homeless” should not even be a word. As San Clemente-Americans, we should be doing everything in our power to help those in need, whether it be for food, shelter, medical care or just a smile, kind word and maybe a couple of dollars to help them get through the day.

There is a way, if there is a will. Unfortunately, there are too many “wont’s” and too many NIMBYs.

Editor’s note: Many homeless advocacy groups discourage people from giving money directly to the homeless population and panhandlers.

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comments (5)

  • The “homeless’ we have are actually drug addicts. Drug addicts, or mentally ill, or both. They are homeless by choice so that they can continue their drugs. Nearly every shelter does not allow drug use for some strange reason.

    The San Clemente drug addicts need an intervention. They need to be medically treated and set on a path to normalcy. Very few cities have the capacity to rehabilitate their drug addicts, and San Clemente has the added burden of having no hospital, and have an influx of addicts that are sober home dropouts.

    The welfare principle says to help people who can’t help themselves, and not to help people who can . The addicts holding cardboard signs–don’t help them. The addicts lounging on beach chairs in North Beach–don’t help them. Let them bottom out and then accept the help that’s out there. Right now they don’t because the “do-gooders’ augment their drug habit with food, and help keep them at the very bottom rung of human existence. They absolutely need help, but enablers are doing the exact opposite.

  • Thank you Cord, I too believe most of these people are not mentally ill but drug addicts. I understand they need help but until they are willing to seek it out themselves, we are only enabling. Thanks again for your commitment to our beautiful town!

  • Some consider any frustration expressed regarding the pathologies and predation brought to our community by the homeless as a lack of “compassion” or evidence of a complete disregard for our fellow man. This may be a virtuous position to take. But, it is both self serving and seems to miss the point that the homeless as in the chronic homeless we experience on our streets are often a bundle of dangerous pathologies (drug, criminality, mental illness or disease) that pose real and present dangers to the quality of life, businesses and personal safety of law abiding citizens in this community.

    To this point of being a danger; the other day a homeless man repeatedly approached a woman, for money, who was attempting to enjoy her coffee with an elderly man whom she assisted. Frustrated with her efforts to ignore him the transient brandished a knife. Thankfully, two Marines intervened. This type of event now occurs too often in our community thanks to the influx of the homeless. If it is not an overt threat, it is often verbalizations or acting out aimed at citizens attempting to enjoy our community. Or, aggressive panhandling. Such as approaching elderly women or women with children. Obviously, a not so subtle form of intimidation.

    The concerns expressed regarding the homeless are simply “reality based” with a full understanding and appreciation of the harm they do to the community and the potential danger they pose to the vulnerable, defenseless or unwary.

    While many homeless indeed suffer from substance abuse and mental disability; many have an extensive record with the law. And, have engaged in numerous criminal acts. The apologists for the homeless like to use the euphemism of “survival crime” to gloss over their repeated criminality. In fact, one of the reasons we now see so many homeless is because many were formerly housed in our various penal institutions. But, our state has elected to release many onto the our streets and decriminalize the crimes that formerly led to incarceration. Now they are our burden.

    For those who are frustrated with the homeless or transients, keep up the complaints and vigilance. Call in incidents and inappropriate behavior to public safety. The worst thing to happen to our community would be to become inured to their presence and treat it as the new normal. Your complaints and calls for action may actually save our community or someone’s life.

    And, for those who believe the community should do “something” to help the homeless; be mindful of the experience of other communities which out of naive compassion became welcoming to the homeless. Only to receive more transients for their effort. This is actually a regional problem that must be addressed on a regional basis.

    Recently, a YouTube video “Is Seattle Dying” made its rounds on Facebook. It is the tale of a city that took the permissive approach to all the street pathologies of the homeless and reaped the rewards. It ends with a solutions based approach that is more Tough Love than naive compassion. It is well worth the time to watch.

  • “I would not in any way help someone using drugs to do anything other than return to rehab. I would not pay their rent, would not bail them out of jail unless they went directly into rehab, even then would not repeatedly bail them out, would not pay their debts, and would never give them money.”

    – David Sheff, author of “Beautiful Boy” and father of an addict

  • Sandra Weaver, you’re not alone. I’m heartened to learn of more and more people like you every day.

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