You folks made the difference. Since the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision back in September decriminalizing those who purport to be homeless, it’s been a bit chaotic in our little metropolis. Front Street Park, Howe Drive, and our storied Battery Point Lighthouse were suddenly occupied by folks who needed a place to “rest and sleep.” Sadly, the collateral behavior displayed by some of our new city visitors exceeded sleeping and resting and what reasonable people might consider excessive, unlawful and anti-social behavior including public urination, public defecation, unleashed and unvaccinated dogs, wanton drug and alcohol abuse and discarded needles and alcohol bottles, yelling out and disturbing the peace and cursing at and intimidating unsuspecting passers-by.
Conditions deteriorated to the point many of you reading this felt disinclined to ever frequent this iconic area again. I, too, was very troubled observing behavior other than sleeping and resting and expressed my opinion to City Manager Eric Wier, Police Chief Ivan Minsal and to you via Facebook and other social media.
This past November, I hosted a town hall and I asked you in the public arena to express your concern to the city council who attended the town hall; many of you did exactly that. I believe, because of your outreach, the City of Crescent City went to work on solving this problem, immediately. Pelican Bay Fire inmate worker crews along with city maintenance staff removed two truckloads of trash from Battery Point and suddenly, the newly-arrived visitors were suddenly newly-exited.
The city attorney and city staff developed a series of ordinances, which it planned to introduce at the city council meeting March 4. These Ordinances addressed all of the above behaviors and further addressed off-street parking by oversized-vehicles (RVs). Unfortunately, the meeting to adopt the ordinances was canceled because three members of the city council called in ill with the flu. The ordinances will be discussed and voted upon at the next council meeting March 18 and, if passed, reviewed at the April 1 (no fooling) meeting, and if formally adopted become city ordinance May 1, 2019. If all these pieces fall together in exactly how I presented, the city can expect to have the appropriate hammers, screwdrivers and power drills in its toolbox to effectively fix the problem of where and how to obey the appeals court ruling. I commend city legal staff for its stellar work.
As promised, I intend to host a second town hall, April 3 at 5:45 p.m., which gives the public the opportunity to speak out on this issue and the enforcement of the hopefully-passed ordinances. This is your town hall. As a public official, I have and will continue to offer this forum for you to speak out on a number of issues. The issue of the court of appeals and city follow-up will be one of our primary subjects, I intend to keep you up-to-date on many other issues in Del Norte County as well.
Your community voice is powerful beyond your expectations. Continue to speak up often and articulately, directly or via social media on any number of subjects you feel relevant. That is your constitutional right and freedom and should be exercised as you feel needed.
See you in April.
Roger Gitlin is a Del Norte County supervisor.