Saturday, January 22, 2011

Santa Barbara Adresses It's Homeless Problem

Turning benches around so people can't see them

"Cities have tried many ways to move panhandlers and vagrants out of prime shopping districts, but Santa Barbara believes it has a new angle — 90 degrees.

Using $50,000 in redevelopment funds, the city is planning to turn 14 benches perpendicular to the State Street storefronts they now face. The idea is to make it more difficult for beggars to establish contact with passersby, officials said.

"They'll be sitting with their backs to half the people coming and going on the sidewalk," said Marck Aguilar, a supervisor for the city's redevelopment agency. "They'll have half the potential contacts with the public. It might not be financially beneficial for them."

To discourage prolonged stays, Aguilar said, workers will also remove the backs from several benches on a two-block stretch of the city's most vibrant commercial thoroughfare. If the pilot program succeeds, it may be extended the length of the street, where crowds of students and well-heeled tourists from around the world amble into upscale stores and restaurants.

The idea, which originated with the Santa Barbara Downtown Organization, a business group, has again focused attention on Santa Barbara's efforts to deal with its sizable homeless population.

"This is the kind of step that people who want to do something about the problem have been forced to in desperation," said City Council member Dale Francisco, a conservative voice in a largely liberal town. "For a long time, political actors have been against doing anything to reduce the number of homeless people on the street."

But Ken Williams, a county social worker and impassioned advocate for the homeless, called the idea "rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic."


Anonymous Nz said...

Well, at least they didn't completely remove the benches, like they did in Springfield, Mass, where i live. I hate the Spfld city counsel for doing it. I may not be homeless right now, but I still do a lot of walking and people without cars who do a lot of walking have to sit down and rest too.

There is something seriously wrong with a ruling-class that has no better way of dealing with homeless people than to pretend they don't exist and rearranging or removing park benches is the best they can do about the problem.

According to there are a multitude of empty buildings in most cities that are awaiting legal transitions. Many homeless people have taken to squatting in them, but they often get kicked out by the corporate police. In some cases, the squatting people are very well-organized and prepared for every contingency.

Squatting in empty buildings should be legalized if the dang spoiled ruling-class is so dang worried about homeless people being an eyesore in their local parks.

23/1/11 9:12 AM  
Blogger Regan Lee said...

They're spending $50,000 to turn benches around, instead of, oh, I don't know, feed/shelter/help homeless people?

And,as Nz commented, what about the people who aren't homeless but, like many of us, choose to walk about the town?

Eugene, where I live for now, took out its public bathrooms on the downtown mall, and have a weird law that to me, seems unconstitutional, where the city can ban people from certain "zones" for a year or more.

23/1/11 6:24 PM  

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