West Anaheim resident Sal Ortiz simply, directly and powerfully articulated the frustration and anger of his fellow residents at the July 17 Anaheim City Council, tell the council “enough is enough” regarding the degradation of their neighborhoods due to the proliferation of RV dwellers street camping in their neighborhoods:
Ortiz forcefully channeled the frustration felt by residents who obey the law, pay their taxes, raise their families and care for the neighborhoods – only to feel ignored in favor of “community advocates” and other squeaky wheels who claim the “right” for people to live on public property.
The ad hoc RV Owners of Anaheim are the latest to add to the list of invented rights. One individual told the Voice of OC she has a “constitutional right” to live on the street in her RV. That’s nonsense, of course – but why not make the claim? Progressive activists have elevated that to standard operating procedure: take the latest political priority or policy desire, call it a “human right” and lobby the government to give it to you. When Councilman Jose F. Moreno and homeless advocates wanted to install porta-potties at the Santa Ana River Trail homeless encampment, progressive activists swarmed council meetings claiming sanitation as a “human right.” The Robbins and their cadre want the government to provide free housing, and press their agenda by claiming it is a “human right.”
So when RV dwellers rhetorically turn their desire to live on city streets into a “right,” their only following a path which progressives have blazed for years.
The balance of competing interests weighs in favor of residents with fixed addresses who are paying mortgages, property taxes and rents. RV owners are, by definition, mobile. RV stands for “recreational vehicle” – not “residential vehicle.” Their homes are own wheels. Residents like Sal Ortiz cannot drive their house or condo to another part of the city, county, state or country.
Yet, Councilmember Jose F. Moreno wants city staff to look into turning city property into “safe parking” sites – complete with RV infrastructure – where RV dwellers can stay. In other words, get City Hall into the RV camping business. Is that really a wise use of the time and resources of city staff? Doesn’t Anaheim have bigger fish to fry on behalf of residents?
Anaheim resident and former council candidate Sergio Gonzalez posted a trenchant observation on Facebook:
It’s easy to be moved by the personal stories of some of the RV dwellers. But there’s an old and wise adage that “hard cases make bad law.” City streets were not intended to be ad hoc campgrounds. City government is neither obligated for able to solve everyone’s problems. Operating “safe parking spaces” falls well outside the legitimate purposes of local government: public safety and civic upkeep.
That’s why residents like Sal Ortiz are so fed up. All they want is for city government to hew to its fundamental mission: keeping their neighborhoods clean and safe and maintaining parks so they aren’t afraid to let their children play there. They want to be able to go for a walk without seeing used needles, human waste or drug addicts sprawled in parks or even in their neighborhoods. As Mr. Ortiz said, they’re tired of “advocates” trying to make them the bad guys for asking the city to uniformly, effectively enforce the laws that they themselves obey. Governing is about making choices. The use of public property as impromptu dwelling places – whether sanctioned officially or through indifference – is incompatible to safe streets and neighborhoods.
Government has enough difficulty discharging those core, traditional duties. It has a miserable track record when it comes to solving the human condition – a task better left to individuals, organizations and institutions that can treat the whole person.