The County Has Alternatives To A Big Homeless Shelter At 1000 Kraemer Place

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The County Has Alternatives To Big Anaheim Homeless Shelter

By Chris Vance and Michael Chew

On November 17, the Orange County Board of Supervisors will decide whether to spend at least $10 million on a permanent, 200-bed homeless shelter at 1000 Kraemer Place in Anaheim near the border with orange, a location overwhelmingly opposed by affected residents and businesses. We urge a different path.

The County Has Eroded Community Trust

A majority of Anaheim and Orange homeowners living in close proximity to the proposed 200 bed permanent homeless shelter at 1000 N. Kraemer Place, Anaheim are dismayed with the heavy handed approach the County is taking to push their latest shelter proposal through.  From the time the County announced their intent to purchase the Kraemer site, residents have requested a meaningful dialog with the County and their respective City Councils to address legitimate concerns of placing a shelter so close to homes, parks, schools, and the Santa Ana River and River trail.  To our consternation, the community’s voices are being ignored and downplayed by those sworn to represent their constituents.

The County vowed it would have a meaningful dialogue with the community and address legitimate concerns over the probable increase in the number homeless in the area.  They promised three community forums to provide specific answers to concerns of increased crime, drug use, and the deterioration in the quality of life and property values in the residential areas near the shelter.  Yet, the county only held two meetings, both of which in partisan locations – churches in favor of the shelter.  These meetings were stacked with people from outside the affected neighborhoods representing various religious organizations and homeless advocacy groups in favor of the shelter.  In the first area residents were not allowed a question and answer session.  Instead they were sent to information tables to submit their questions of 3×5 cards to be reviewed by some county staffer.  No concrete answers were provided.  The second meeting only provided residents 30 seconds to ask questions or make comments due to the large contingent of churches and advocacy groups.  Residents in the area of the shelter hosted their own town hall meeting attended by over 300 people at the Anaheim Embassy  An advance invitation was sent our County Supervisor, Tod Spitzer, address our concerns, sadly the invitation was ignored and no response was received from his office.

The County has made little effort to encourage community comment on the shelter operations plan and other community impact reports.  Documents were buried in the county website, and were not posted to the official Kramer Place Shelter information website until after the public comment period ended.  The County claims residents will not be impacted by the 200-bed shelter, but their own study states the Kraemer Place shelter “would result in greater opportunities for crimes to be committed” and “officers dispatched to calls for service associated with the proposed emergency temporary shelter would reduce the number of available officers on patrol” and “neighboring parks and school playgrounds may expect an increase in transient/homeless activity during daytime and evening hours.”

The County has been unable to control the homeless encampments set up in the Santa Ana Civic Center yet has assured us in their “community forums” that our neighborhoods will not be negatively impacted.  They offer promises but not the assurances of this.  They will not publically commit they will close the shelter if it negatively impacts the residents and businesses in the area.  Further, Anaheim and Orange police in lieu of arresting and/or incarcerating the homeless for violations of the law (theft, property damage, trespassing, camping, public defecation, public intoxication, drug possession, etc.) they issue meaningless citations that are ignored.

The community has offered viable alternatives to this bad location.  However the County appears more interested in their receiving of $1,000,000 from the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton to purchase this site.

We are dismayed that our voices are being ignored and drown out by the County’s fervor to pursue their latest shelter location regardless of its poor location and the negative impact to nearby residents and businesses.

Real Community Impacts

The County claims residents and businesses won’t notice there’s a 200-bed homeless shelter in our midst. This defies common sense. The County’s own study states the Kraemer Place shelter “would result in greater opportunities for crimes to be committed” and “officers dispatched to calls for service associated with the proposed emergency temporary shelter would reduce the number of available officers on patrol in other portions of the [Anaheim]…” The report says “neighboring parks and school playgrounds may expect an increase in transient/homeless activity during daytime and evening hours.”

Chris Vance’s piano business is across the street from the proposed homeless shelter. While the County has given sideways acknowledgement that the Kraemer Shelter harms his piano store’s viability, the basic attitude is his business – and really, other nearby businesses and neighborhoods – are collateral damage in the campaign to end homelessness.

The Anaheim Police Department is unable to adequately responding to existing crime problems stemming from transients and parolees from the state Corrections Department parole office a few blocks away. The County promises there will be no shelter “overflow” issues, and that shelter staff will prevent loitering. But dealing with even a single loiterer requires several police officers, and shelter staff has no such powers.

There Are Alternatives

There are alternatives. The Illumination Foundation’s rapid re-housing approach has been very successful and less costly than conventional strategies like the “big shelter” model. In fact, back in March, co-founder Paul Cho advised the Board of Supervisors that multiple, smaller shelters throughout Orange County was the better strategy, saying, “I think, based on the past experience, the communities do not seem to want a large shelter that is in their community.” Indeed, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is tilting away from the big shelter model and toward rapid re-housing.

However, if the County is bent on a big shelter, it should prove the concept at the Civic Center, where the homeless problem is worst. There is a building at 615 W. Civic Center Drive approximately the same size as the 1000 Kraemer Place building while costing $1.2 million less. It is mere feet from the Civic Center homeless population and the county social services with which the County wants to connect them. The County’s inability to deal with the homeless encampment at its door step is a major reason residents and businesses near the Kraemer Place site mistrust County assurances. Successfully operating a 200-bed multi-service center at the Civic Center would enable the County to credibly claim it can do the same thing in other parts of OC.

There remain other properties available that do not require purchase. The City of Anaheim purchased the Karcher site in Anaheim, at Harbor Blvd. and the 91 Freeway, specifically as the site for a homeless shelter – a location which homeless advocates have judged far superior to the Kraemer Place location.

Anaheim also owns a seven-acre parcel on Anaheim Way by the 5 Freeway and one block away from the Salvation Army’s rehab facility. While the city has put this parcel on the market, it can also take it off that market.  Absent the need to shell out $4.5 million to purchase a building, the $10 million the County proposes spending simply to open the doors of a big shelter would suffice for either of these sites.

We all support assisting the homeless resume their place as productive members of society. We believe 1000 Kraemer Place is a poor location, and the County’s conduct has given us little basis for faith. However, rather than waging a series of divisive community battles in the Ahab-like pursuit of a “big shelter” strategy, why not explore more effective, less expensive alternatives that and can be implemented more quickly? Wouldn’t it be better to move forward with assisting the homeless with many small shelters rather than force-feed a big shelter to communities that don’t want them?

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Anaheim businessman Chris Vance is the owner of Piano Empire, located next to the proposed homeless shelter. Orange resident Michael Chew is founder of the Orange-Riverdale Homeowners Alliance and a leader of BetterSolutions4Anaheim.com.

23 comments

  1. Sure — and the best alternative is Karcher Way, except that Brandman seems to have designs on it for some as-yet-disclosed interest.

    Meanwhile, this winter, Anaheim had better let the county’s homeless stay overnight in the ARTIC cavern when El Nino sweeps in. It’s not like they’d be disturbing that many people there.

    • Why “had they better”? Because the lunatic blogger says so?

    • Where the hell were you in all this, Mr. Know-It-All? Are you going to take the Brea City Council to task on the fearsome “The Brean” blog for contributing $100K to the Kraemer shelter?

      • I think that it was downright neighborly for much the much smaller City of Brea to contribute a proportionally higher amount to this effort than Fullerton — or, especially, Anaheim. My hope is that they were trying to shame the likes of you.

        The problem with the homeless shelter is not that it will exist or that cities chipped in to pay for it. Those are good. The problem is its being located at the Kraemer site rather than at the Karcher site. For that, the Anaheim Council has much to answer.

        I wonder what the organized opposition to the Kraemer site, through their site BetterSolutions4Anaheim, didn’t focus on trying to get the Karcher site to be used instead, as that was the purpose for which it was purchased. They hired someone to do the political work for them; you’d think that that person would have understood what the *real* viable alternative to Kraemer was.

        • They did propose that site as well as two other sites. Costa Mesa and Santa Ana.

          • If you mean the City Council, they proposed it — purchased it for that very purpose, in fact — and then blocked it. Now they’re banking the land for something and someone — it’s not clear why and for whom. But it won’t likely be in the larger public interest.

        • I live in the real world, Greg. You live in a fantasy world. The Karcher site – along with other sites we pointed out – was/is a viable alternative to 1000 Kraemer Place. What you don’t “understand” is that there aren’t three votes on the Anaheim city council for un-choosing the Kraemer site, let alone reversing course and actually fighting the County’s plan to purchase it. There aren’t two votes. There isn’t even one vote.

          Our top priority was for the county to find a different location for the 200-bed homeless shelter. There was no way to flip an Anaheim city council that was very committed to the Kraemer site, so we didn’t spend much energy on it.

          • You presumably reached that conclusion about the Council by trying to lobby them, right? Or did you just go by public statements without trying to push back?

            Presuming that you spoke to them, did they have any answers to why they bought the Karcher site FOR THIS PURPOSE and when and why they changed their mind?

            You did ask — right? You didn’t take on that client and not even ask — right? Did it have to do with Brandman’s false claims about the City already being committed to plans for some sort of sports stadium?

            Speaking of that: why didn’t you push back against those claims? When you signed up your client, was it with the express understanding that where the Council was concerned you intended to roll over and play dead?

            I hope you’ll shed some light onto how you lost this one.

            • Soooo…I am getting the third degree from a guy who, while operating from perfect ignorance, nonetheless continues to imply there’s some sinister conspiracy operating beneath the surface. Do you have some special knowledge about the level of support on the council for the Kraemer site? Or, more likely, are you just blowing hot air?

              Give it a rest, Greg. Nobody owes you any explanations (or needs to listen to lectures on “losing” from a guy who can’t litigate his way out of a paper bag). You don’t really care about how the Kraemer shelter site impacts nearby Anaheim and Orange neighborhoods and businesses. You only care about trying to embarrass certain members of the Anaheim city council and you’ve got it in your brain that there’s some angle to this issue that would enable you to do so.

              • Gosh, Matt — speaking of “complete ignorance”! Most of what you deride as a conspiracy was public and on the surface!

                If you review Council videos, you’ll see Jordan Brandman talk about some reason that the Karcher site could not be used — some “plan” involving Glover Stadium — that doesn’t seem to exist. Murray’s stirring speech on serving the homeless didn’t on its face, as I recall, offer much if any argument against the Karcher site. So why did you conclude that the Council’s position was “intractable”?

                The Council is surely, as usual, a fair target of criticism. But the real issues here involved you, not them. You took their money to try to block the creation of a homeless shelter on the Kraemer site — and it sure looks like you just flopped on your belly when it came to trying to push the alternative site that the city has already bought for the purpose. I expect that your former clients would be interested in why that is. So if anyone involved should be embarrassed by this sort of discussion, it is more likely to be you than the Council.

                Ask Dave Ellis, who would be on MWDOC but for a suit I brought on behalf of an opponent, if I can “litigate my way out of a paper bag.”

                By the way, I *do* care about the impact on the Shelter on those neighborhoods and nearby residents like my friend Ricardo Toro, although I also believe in fair burden sharing. I’m more concerned about the likely fact that this proposal won’t solve the problem of the homeless near Downtown Anaheim, who are not going to happen to wander (and not likely to be taken) up to Kraemer. I’ve written pretty extensively about that.

                There is one somewhat covert angle, though — and it involves the Council purchasing private property and warehousing it for its cronies. I’m happy to work with you to study the history of such practices in Anaheim and perhaps we can come to a consensus on whether, how much, and even to what extent it has been happening over the years. Let me know if you’re interested; I have some good researchers at my disposal.

                • Greg, all of us involved in opposing the 1000 Kraemer Place site knew from the very beginning that it was an uphill battle. In Fullerton, a majority of the city council opposed that shelter proposal from the get-go. In Santa Ana, the council also turned against the proposal. In Anaheim, the council majority was totally committed to the Kraemer site, which I know from conversations with councilmembers and others familiar with the issue. By the time we had even begun organizing, the county had already picked the site and the Anaheim and Fullerton councils had already endorsed the selection and were a few days away from voting $500,000 each toward acquisition of it. If you had some secret strategy for flipping unanimous Anaheim council support into opposition, you certainly kept it to yourself.

                  The fact is you didn’t, and you still have no idea what you’re talking about on this issue. But that is hardly unusual. It’s a good thing you take yourself so very seriously, because no one else does.

                  Also, are you seriously going to take credit for Dave Ellis losing the MWDOC Division 5 race to Sat Tamaribuchi?Wait – what am I saying? Of course you’re going to take credit!

  2. The Carl Karcher site does not Work. It is located directly across the street from a charter school. La Palma park is already a homeless mess. This issue is dead in the water. Carl Karcher does not work and should not be considered. I have suggested using Fairview State Hospital in Costa Mesa. They are basically an empty building as they are reducing the numbers of patients there. it has all the basic needs except the approval of whichever powers that be. Kraemer is not a good option. Nor is a 200 bed shelter anywhere. I suggest that small facilities in each community with no more than six persons permitted. Seems to be the accepted method for persons with special needs and the homeless qualify for that category. This comment will not be politically correct but there are no solutions for the homeless population. There have and always will be homeless. For whatever reason, you can wish them away, you can offer everything and the kitchen sink and there will still be homeless. Use Fairview AND DROP THEM THERE. IT HAS EVERYTHING NEEDED TO SERVE THAT COMMUNITY.

    • I’m not opposed in principle to using Fairview as well. Has anyone studied that option? I also think that smaller dispersed facilities would be nice — but for some reason they keep on not happening. Until you can solve that problem, we need to figure out where the homeless can be — especially during an El Niño!

      What the homeless need in a facility are the four ‘S’s — storage, sleeping spaces, showers, and safe places to excrete bodily wastes. That’s it — much like a campground. You can do this with modular buildings and buses.

      You can have them be gone before the kids get to school — or you can move the school. (Kraemer Place?) The “problem” with Karcher is that Jordan Brandman apparently wants to build an unneeded and unwanted stadium there — or at least to hold open the space, Great Park-style, until it can be sold off to a crony. (At least the Great Park advocates tried to avoid that last step.)

      • I would disagree with your assessment on what the homeless need. They need an environment that gets them on the path to becoming self sufficient. Merely giving them a place to sleep does little if anything to actually get them out of homelessness. The goal should be to end homelessness, not keep them in it. I agree that Costa Mesa would be a good fit. I also think small shelters spread throughout is a good option.
        I truly believe that a good portion of the homeless suffer from some sort of mental illness (or substance abuse issues) yet no one in our govt wants to address that issue.

      • And during the day? Stealing, shopping carts, scaring kids, squatting at parks, smelling.

  3. I appreciate and understand editorial control.

    With that said, Greg Diamond appears to be unbalanced in his opinions and writings.

    • This is pretty much what I expect from political assassins: ad hominem arguments unmoored in facts by someone who can escape responsibility from having issued them.

      Matt, here’s a formal demand: take this defamatory comment down, reveal all IP addresses he or she has used (solely for the purpose of legal service), and block the repeat-offender user from further comment. I’d hate for my only recourse to be against you.

      • Greg, I edited the comment. Happy? After all, you’ve written things that are worse than what remains of the comment.

        For your part: you keep company over at OJB with a crew of character assassins, and you yourself join in. For example, you have no hesitation about calling people criminals without any proof. Stop being a hypocrite. Stop acting like a bully by responding to comments you don’t like by threatening lawsuits. Walk your talk over at that swamp of a blog you haunt.

      • What a whiner!

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