City planner responds to criticism of officials over shelter issue
Rachel Justice's letter published on Dec. 12 ("County officials will have blood on their hands") claiming that "many, if not most, of our officials and people in authority don't care (and may even be relieved if) a homeless person dies from the extreme cold" is misleading and unfair. As one of those public officials, I would like to clarify a few points.
The city of Crescent City (as well as the county of Del Norte) has guidelines contained in the zoning code that regulate the locations and operations of proposed uses. Each zoning district has a list of uses permitted, uses permitted with Planning Commission approval, and prohibited uses.
As I explained in an email sent to Rachel Justice on Dec. 3, the city does not expressly allow homeless shelters, but some zones include a clause that the Planning Commission could make a determination of compatibility. Therefore, her statement that "we have even been told in a city office that a shelter would never be allowed in the city" is false.
In fact, the state of California has passed a relatively new law that requires that jurisdictions provide a suitable zone in which to allow for such emergency shelters. However, the law gives us one year from the time our new Housing Element is adopted to comply. The city's Housing Element has not yet been adopted, but in anticipation, city staff has begun discussions on appropriate locations for such a shelter.
As an example, other cities are creating overnight "warming centers" in libraries, auditoriums or churches where the activities of the visitors can be monitored. I invite all of our local community groups (CAN, RHS, religious organizations and others) as well as interested residents to work with the city and/or county to find a long-term solution that meets everybody's needs.
Propaganda of opponents distorting universal health care
As a native of Del Norte County now living with the "horrors" of universal health care in Canada, I've watched the debate over introducing a similar system in the U.S. with great interest.
When I compare the quality and cost of the coverage I enjoy to the expense and regimentation my three siblings in California endure from HMOs and insurance companies, and read the ridiculous right-wing propaganda distorting what universal health care means, I have to shake my head. The fear-mongering and assaults on truth and reason would be laughable if they weren't about a life-and-death issue.
Last week's letter to The Triplicate from Dr. Bob Sankus ("No overwhelming support for Obama reform among doctors, Dec. 10") is a case in point. After attempting to belittle the official support of the local American Medical Society and the AMA because they don't represent every single doctor, Dr. Sankus makes the remarkable assertion that since there were 8-10 applicants for every position in medical school 60 years ago, and only 2.3 applicants today, it proves that most physicians oppose universal health care!
Shouldn't the opposite conclusion be drawn? Wouldn't his logic lead us to conclude that it's America's decades-old status as the only developed nation without universal coverage that's made becoming a doctor increasingly unattractive? Dr. Sankus should look at the fierce competition for medical school in Canada, then discard a diagnosis that doesn't follow logically from an examination of the symptoms. He should look to the informed second opinion of the AMA.
Queen Charlotte, B.C., Canada
Beating outside former shelter doesn't justify county's rejection
I have been following the letters to the editor about finding a shelter for the homeless. Everyone keeps referring to the guy who was "beaten senseless with a flashlight" as an example of why the county should say "no."
What you don't know is that there is more to the story and it would not have mattered where or when these people caught up to him, they were determined to find him. They even had his friends' houses staked out. It just so happened that they found him at the shelter.
Yes, having homeless people hanging around drunk or getting high sucks but don't punish the single mom or dad who are homeless with their children because of the few stupid idiots who go out looking for revenge.
And yes, I do know what I am talking about - The guy who got "beaten senseless with a flashlight" is my nephew.