Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Misplaced Charity

Speech to the Grants Pass City Council, 11/7/12.  Video of the meeting is available at:
Honorable Councilors, Mayor, and Manager:
          This City has tolerated illegal camping on its property for many years, ignoring calls from Officer Burge to limb-up the trees and clear out weeds east of Baker Park, for instance.  It has tolerated illegal camping on private property as well.
          I believe that this tolerance is caused by misplaced charity, feeling sorry for the people who have no place to live and don’t care to follow the rules that the Gospel Rescue Mission and UCAN impose on those whom they help.
          I say that this charity is misplaced because it refuses to recognize the two classes of homeless: orderly and disorderly.  Those who are orderly, even if they don’t care for the Mission’s rules, do not sleep in illegal campgrounds.  The camps are too disorderly and therefore dangerous.  They sleep in any little spot out of sight, and leave no sign of their presence afterwards, often getting roused by cops and told to move on.  They may beg, but they do not steal.  When given a chance by a charity to move into a place, they mostly take it and get out of the weather.
          The disorderly homeless prefer disorder, and create it as their habitat.  They leave trash everywhere, and where it stays, they know it is safe to camp.  They throw litter in the blackberries, the better to get it to stay.  If it gets old, it is a safe place to camp, because the owner doesn’t care. 
They steal what they need to live if they can get away with it, and beg for the rest.  They leave clothing as it becomes wet and pick up dry clothing for free from charities.   They break glass bottles as warning and defense against curious children and their parents.
          They particularly look for noxious weed growth like blackberries, scotch broom, and star thistle; the brush provides hiding places, and the thistles warn off the casual walker.
          The only defense against the disorderly homeless is to eliminate the hiding places that they camp in at night.  On Arizona prison work crew, we limbed up trees and cleared out weeds in the parks for security, leaving no places to hide. 
          Our Charter requires that our Manager enforce all city codes.  I read in the police blotter about a camp on Vine Street that police would not abate because it was outside the city limits.  Is it outside the UGB?  State law allows the city to enforce its code everywhere in the UGB.  Please enforce our codes against weeds, litter, and camping as far out as you can. 
Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener       541-955-9040   

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