Please note that I regard people who have suffered misfortune and are trying to re-engage with society as deserving of help as indeed are many others for a variety of reasons. The problems these people face means they are deserving of our sympathy and support and there are efforts being made by our City to provide and increase that support.
There is also a group who have no desire to return to ordinary society and for whom such is a rational choice. I have no problem with them or their choice. Some people choose to live in the backwoods as hermits. Good luck to them.
There are however some people who choose to live outside of normal society, yet survive by living off it through crime and who behave anti-socially. There are strictures in our society against criminal and anti-social behavior and it is widely accepted that these are desirable. My concern is with this last group, many of whom have taken to living in my neighborhood, and the widespread failure of various City-funded and managed departments to enforce the laws and codes which can help curb crime and anti-social behavior.
The group with which I am campaigning for the demolition of the derelict Magruder and Rock Garden buildings (Action for Improvement: South Palm Springs) has not only recognized that vagrancy is located more widely than those current "hot spots" but has also brought the matter of vagrant relocation to the attention of the City and called for them to take action.
Magruders and the Rock Garden are simply the tip of a vagrancy iceberg which has persisted because of the recession. It is also a problem which for years now has been ignored.
Now that development is taking place in various locations vagrants are being displaced. Vagrants used to inhabit the Fashion Plaza but moved south when redevelopment work started there. When the lot behind Rocky's Pawn Shop was cleaned up, after the City issued Courtesy Notices to the Indian allottee landowner, they moved to Magruders and the Rock Garden. Note that where vagrants locate themselves is largely NOT being determined by police enforcement - we have met with two PSPD police Captains on two separate occasions and have been told the same thing by both: the police claim to be powerless to deal with vagrants - but rather they move to where the resources are.
These resources include vacant UNSECURED buildings, which is the fundamental problem with the derelict Magruder and Rock Garden buildings. A vacant building that is secured, by definition cannot be broken into and thus cannot be exploited. Land which is exposed to view and monitored is less appealing that undulating boulder-strewn land overgrown with brush as at the back of the Rock Garden as the latter is less easy to monitor and thus is more appealing to camp on illegally.
Some problems relate to the widespread availability of cheap drugs and we have learned much about the effect this is having in communities such as Biltmore I. But unless the police get a grip on the criminal vagrancy and drug-dealing issue we face a much worse problem: small towns in this country are being overwhelmed by cheap heroin which is following in the wake of meth. The impact of drug addiction on a community is magnified hugely when the drug's price drops, as it has.
The many stories littered across the recent discussions on Nextdoor are testament to the impact and spread of the crime and anti-social behavior problem associated with those vagrants that choose to behave criminally and anti-socially. To make Council members more aware of this we have already held meetings with both Councillors Lewin and Foat enabling local residents to tell their stories of fear, drug addicts and dealers, trespass, crime and vandalism. It is important that the people who can do something about these issues are told about them and that organized pressure is applied to push them to act. We are applying that pressure. We're not aware of anyone else doing the same but would welcome others doing so or joining us.