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Letter to Mayor Brunner on City Council's Latest Homeless Hayride
by Robert Norse (rnorse3 [at] hotmail.com)
I wrote a letter to Mayor Brunner regarding the City's end run around human decency in the Benchlands. Item 19 is a double-barreled blast at those outside--showcasing an empty report that has no significant expansion of shelter for the planned Benchlands demolition. As well as a seizure of homeless funding--using it as demolition money.
Expanded Letter to Sonja Brunner:

Sonja,
This is to advise you I will be attempting to speak representing HUFF (Homeless United for Friendship & Freedom) on item 19.1 and a second time on item 19.2 on the August 23rd agenda.

VIOLATING THE PUBLIC MEETINGS (BROWN) ACT
Creating an agenda where two different subjects are differently itemized, scheduled for different votes, and then allowed only one public comment period is a violation of the Brown Act. Please follow the law and allow the public proper access and input to a matter of widespread local concern.

You repeat this squeezing together of separate items on a single agenda item with the apparent goal of cutting off public comment.. It makes it appear you are simply providing the form but not the substance of legal community access.

DISREGARD FOR COMMUNITY INPUT
Indeed., you cram a long-promised but largely empty Homeless quarterly report with a rerouting of funding from safe parking to campground demolition into a 30-minute speaking time. This shows obliviousness or contempt for all sides of community opinion.. Considering the absence of other items on the afternoon agenda, why would this rush job be necessary if not to simply rubberstamp the staff's agenda?

The Benchlands campground, our highly paid City Manager assures you, was “sanctioned” in March. It was then stuffed with refugees by police direction from Hell's Trail, Camp Paradise, Hell's Trail 2, the Levee, the Armory,and the Water St. bridge underpass (to name only a few). Specifics about shelter availability promised by Lee Butler last fall have failed to materialize. Huffaker’s generalities and evasions have continued to maintain this lack of information.

MORE TIME, MORE INPUT MAKES MORE SENSE
You need to reverse this decision to squeeze out meaningful public input and to announce that change in advance of the meeting. Better still--stop stressing a vulnerable population packed in like sardines and begin to use some of the funding to provide resources (water, fire protection, showers, other basic amenities) to the human beings there. Redirecting money to case managers and social workers signing people up on long waiting lists and directing them to non-existent housing is a cruel charade that increases friction with the neighbors as well as being a criminal waste of millions.

TAKE THE TIME TO HEAR THE PUBLIC
Since the subject requires more time, extend the meeting or (as has been done historically) schedule a second meeting the next day or at a subsequent time.

SHOW UP AT REAL PUBLIC FORUMS
Your failure to appear at real public forums where you can be directly questioned on these matters (such as the Benchlands discussions being held Mondays at 6 PM at the Resource Center for Non-Violence--or any other public venue for that matter) gives the impression you are unwilling to face the public in an accessible and transparent manner. The limited time, prior announcement, and restricted setting where token input is allowed at City Council heightens that impression.

REAL MOTIVATION: SAME OLD ENFORCEMENT GAME?
The staff’s failed to create a truly workable Safe Parking Program. Instead it cooked up an excuse to legalize and intensify existing harassment of legally parked vehicles which serve as survival homes for many folks.

MORE TIME AND MONEY WASTED ON THE OVO
The Council’s OVO law [RV Parking Bans] met none of the key concerns of the Coastal Commission (real storage access, proof of a “crime” problem, justice and equity for disadvantaged groups, and coastal access for all). The fact that it was shut down by the Coastal Commission was predictable. The Commission struck down a similar bigoted law in 2016. The"substantial issues" present then when I appealed it afflict the current OVO as well. Pay attention to this history to save money and stress.

THE REAL ISSUE: NO SHELTER SPACE
Since it's clear there are no spaces for the majority of Benchlands residents (to say nothing of the broader unhoused community), this latest attempt to "beautify" the park--by transferring safe parking funds to bulldozing payoffs is particularly cynical and odious.

THE REAL SOLUTION: PROVIDE REAL RESOURCES
The funding needs to be used to provide vitally needed resources to a population currently in a state-created danger status. Huffaker, Imwalle, and Butler need to come clean about the real numbers of people, the real absence of shelter, and how funds are actually being spent.

SHOW UP AND HEAR THE PUBLIC SPEAK UP
I note you did not respond to the invitation to meet with the Community last Monday. A third event is slated for next Monday the 22nd at the RCNV. Will you be there?

Stay well and housed--unlike hundreds whose tent-homes this Council is about to destroy.

Robert Norse

AFTERWARD: Mayor Brunner advised me Sunday night that I would be granted a plentiful 3 minutes for group speaking time..

ABSENT RESOURCES DISAPPEARING FUNDING
She did not, however, offer real assurances that police threats would end nor that "beautification" of the park would take second place to meeting survival needs for emergency campers. Nor that there would be a real accounting for the disappearance of homeless funding along with the increase in the unhoused community.

NO REAL PUBLIC MEETING
There was no indication she'd be speaking to the public and answering hard questions at the RCNV or anywhere else outside the insulated bubble of the City Council.

MEETING AND PROTEST TIMES
The meeting is scheduled to start at 11:30 AM with a relatively short Consent Agenda. The following Afternoon Agenda is very short. It has only two items: the Police Auditor's Report (#18) and the Benchlands Demolition (#19). Both items are at a time uncertain. Because of this uncertainty, those demanding real answers will be showing up at 5 PM at City Council chambers.
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Taking 1,000,000 dollars from the Homeless Fund Stop it from HappeningUrsula ReedSunday Aug 28th, 2022 4:16 AM
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