Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Letter To The Mayor Of Eureka and the City Council

The Honorable Mayor and Council members, I am writing to inform you of my deep disappointment in closing the Tarp City at the City Hall parking lot on Sunday night. It was 25 degrees at my house that night. How could you choose to kick these people out of the City Hall parking lot on such a cold night? Your decision to allow the EPD to solve our homeless problem is a travesty. What if someone dies of exposure? What about the parking lot that you had said would be looked into for the homeless? You didn't do your job and so the homeless came to you. They camped on your doorstep and you turned them away in sub freezing temperatures and made the police out to be the bad guys. What is your solution? Lock everyone up? What will that cost?

Kicking the preverbal can down the street to the Eureka Police Department shows your lack of compassion and lack of ideas. If all of the homeless are breaking the law by sleeping in their cars or on sidewalks, are you willing to arrest all of them and provide shelter and food in the jail? Is this the solution? I pray not. It is neither cost effective nor is it  humanitarian thing to do.

I suggest you come up with a plan and come up with one soon, before someone dies of exposure.

I don't live in Eureka so I haven't been very critical or the way you run your city, but I do work there. I assure you that you now have my full attention and I look to see some progress soon on this issue or I will do my best to call all of you out for your lack of compassion, sense of duty and ineptitude.

Tom Sebourn, speaking for myself and those that have no one else to turn to.


  1. Well said. If you want to get the point across, attend and speak to the council. By law they have to listen and it goes into public record. Some of the best learning I have done was listening to the gripes of the public. Many are better informed than city staffers!

  2. I didn't attend, but I remember reading that Mayor Bass was scheduled to read the Declaration of Human Rights this past Saturday in Old Town. If she did read it I have to wonder whether she understood it.


    Article 5:
    No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    Article 25:
    Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.

  3. I wish that Mike Jones and Jeff Leonard on the council would join Linda Atkins and Larry Glass and do the right thing. I have little faith in the rest of the council right now.
    I hope they show me up and get something done but I am not holding my breath.

  4. Thank you Tom for your support of the vulnerable among us and for people like our sister Verbena who are putting their lives on the line to really make some changes.

    have a peaceful day brother,

  5. "What about the parking lot that you had said would be looked into for the homeless?"

    I beieve this was going to be a parking lot for those homeless living in vehicles, not tents. It was also being researched and has only been one month ago it was mentioned.

    I believe that doing something for the homeless is a necessary thing, but allowing then to camp in the city parking lot is not the answer - you have other healthy concerns regarding sanitation and human waste to consider. Maybe they should establish a night camp in Old Town around the Gazebo, at least there is a restroom there (Of course, Larry Glass may not approve of this near his business.).

    If those involved in promoting better conditions for the homeless got together, they could work on rehabilitating the old Downtowner and providing temporary housing. But it would need the homeless to contribute and set an example of them wanting to change their lifestyle.

    Homelessness is a problem and those involved need to want participate in programs that expect change. I am sure there is no one on the blog who would say "give the homeless anything they want without expecting something in return."

  6. "I wish that Mike Jones and Jeff Leonard on the council would join Linda Atkins and Larry Glass and do the right thing. I have little faith in the rest of the council right now.

    I hope they show me up and get something done but I am not holding my breath."

    What would one consider to be the right thing? This has been an on-going issue for years and it is only getting bigger.

    I would ask why the housing authority is not working with other groups to address providing transitional housing for those who are homeless looking for a place to live. At the same time we must recognize some, not all wish to remain homeless and not change their lifestyle.

    Why could the housing authority and other groups addressing the homeless issue work towards developing a closed school, motel for use a a transitional homeless shelter. At this site a fee would be expected to help with overhead and go towards providing future housing for those needing permanent residence.

    At the same time various programs can be offered similar the the MAC to get people on their own. I believe this would be an investment that the community and giovernment can support.

    Those who do not want to change, let them stay at the other shelters and panhandle in Old Town because room will be made available from those moving to a transition site assisting them in creating a new life.

  7. I hope you shame those idiots into some positive action regarding this issue.

    I'm always stunned by the stupidity city officials display when it comes to really helping solve the problem of people without a home.

    It's up to people like you, Betty Chin, and John Humble of Arcata, to do something that will actually help people in a homeless situation.

    We can't count on those hard-assed city officials and law enforcement to do it.
    That leaves it up to the rest of us to do the right thing. I've worked with many people down on their luck during our local Stand Downs (the first and second one), and I know how important it is to give people respect and to treat them like humans.

    Every year we have the same situation. People cast into the cold during the winter months when they should have a roof over their heads and food.
    What's most damning about our local authorities, and politicians, is they have yet to come up with a solution for our area. To me, that says a lot about how little they care about people.

  8. I don't believe that it is up to our local (or federal) government to give food and shelter to all people all of the time. HOWEVER, I do believe that all government MUST allow for the rest of us (businesses, churches, groups, and individuals) to help those in need without hampering or hindering the situation. That is, allow private property owners to secure campsites without undo pressures. Local government can certainly help by providing public restrooms, even portable toilets, in key areas. But the best thing that government can do is get out of the way of those who are helping the poor.

    There is also another problem to consider. If everyone in Humboldt is charitable to the homeless and hungry, will that not attract the homeless from other areas? At what point does helping the homeless become as equal a detriment to our livelihood as does NOT helping them?

    Imagine a city built for the homeless of the United States. Who would build it? Who could afford to invest in it? Why would anyone invest money into it? It wouldn’t make money. In fact, it would be a guaranteed loser for investors. Would it cause people to move from their “home” region in order to have food and shelter? Would there be any industry capable of supporting such a city? Shouldn’t we distinguish between those who are homeless? The addicted, jobless, disabled, lazy, etc. are all out there on our park benches. They rummage through our filthy trash to find a morsel of food to eat which the rats haven’t gotten to first! What are we to do? How much of this massive burden should be forcibly placed upon the working class?

    Creating a homeless encampment is akin to creating a prison; although they are desperately needed, no one wants it in their neighborhood. What are we to do?

    I have a deep admiration and appreciation for those who can and do help the homeless. I don't have the answers but I am interested in finding them.

  9. "not in my backyard" is a statement which will be the death of human compassion and noble acts put forth to those in need. Anyone who thinks any part of a city structure or a neighborhood's comfort bubble is worth someone else's misery needs to experience misery themselves. Including myself, although I take my experiences in my own hands and those hands to others.


  10. Greg, you need to watch the movie The Grapes Of Wrath. It is about the dust bowl and the last Great Depression. In the movie, there are what are called sanitary camps. They were not something that people are going to want to move out of their homes to live in, but they served the puropse and needs of the people at the time.

  11. Thank you; Tom, for speaking up for the homeless/houseless peoples in our communities.
    We must take back the streets from the oppression opposed upon the poor,sick and suffering by city officials. A big thank you to women and men, like Verbena who stood up to city officials but was arrested when trying to help! Humboldt citizens need to note the exhaustive efforts these wonderful individuals have made to help others in need and write our city government to complain about the horrific acts that are continually imposed upon folks like Verbena an the homeless the other evening in Eureka.

  12. Greg Sebourn's take on the issue is well-put. If government stands aside (or at least doesn't hinder) private help for the homeless, then something can be accomplished.

    People are unique. Some need more help than others. Some have long-term problems with drugs or have mental problems. They can be easily identified. Some like living in the streets and would have it no other way.The rest are victims of fate and finances.

    Each requires some degree of help; be it temporary or long-term.
    There will always be homelesness in this less- than-perfect world.
    How we handle the problem shows our humanity.

  13. Greg said:

    Imagine a city built for the homeless of the United States.


    the homeless are not asking you to build them a city. They are asking for a camp where they can pitch a tent and start to stabilize their lives in a safer and cleaner environment than somewhere in the bushes. Such a camp will cost the city (and county) nothing.

    have a peaceful day,

  14. "Such a camp will cost the city (and county) nothing."

    Oh come on Bill! The cost of police and fire department personnel attending the camp along with county health workers and outreach folks will be significant. You are fooling yourself if you think otherwise.

  15. The city and county are already spending money on police and health services for this population, the only difference is that the population is dispersed and hidden. It is less costly for government to provide these services in a rational safe environment.

    A safe homeless camp will lower the cost to local government.

    have a peaceful day,

  16. Bill,
    I did not say that the homeless are asking for me to build them a city. Like Tom had mentioned with the Grapes of Wrath, a large-scale encampment with basic sanitary facilities, a food source (kitchen), basic medical care, and shelter... Together, those key ingredients make a community.

    There have been wealthy folks who have tried to do this before but local government has shut them down. Allow for religious and community groups to do what they do best - Help their fellow humans be.

    To "exist" in our society you are suppose to have an address, social security number, and two forms of identification (or a passport). These are the basics which are required on nearly all government/business forms like job applications, unemployment application (with one exception), medical billing records, bank account applications, etc. Something a bit more substantial would be better, wouldn't it? A structure that won't blow away. Something with heat (for the north) and maybe A/C (for the south). A safe place to "exist" while you find a job or seek more long term care.

    As humans being a society, we can and should do better. Why only shoot for a "tent city"? Why not dream the impossible: a communal city where all can receive the basics of human sustenance? I am a pretty conservative guy and even I can see that there is a point in some people’s lives when a stop-gap measure is necessary. Of course the communal city should not be too comfortable. The purpose is to get people back on their feet, not just keep them comfy-cozy for ever.

    The real kicker is that funding for these needs to be from PRIVATE sources. If the government has no stake in it (it's on private property, little to no impact on surrounding residents/businesses, no tax dollars subsidizing it, etc.) AND the government gets out of the way to allow for private development, who can argue against it?

    Obviously, there are some significant obstacles to cover but a parking lot full of tents is hardly an existence worth fretting over by city officials. As Anon Y. Mous pointed out, there is a burden on the public to have fire, police, and health care workers involved. Can't private security protect them? Can't a few volunteers help with basic first aid and fire suppression? Can't a few local nurses and doctors’ check up on these people once a week or so?

    There are answers to all of these but finding them is difficult.

  17. I have had no response from city officals.
    I guess the Marina Center is taking up most of their time.


US Senator Joe Liberman, WTC 7 Did Not Occur