My heart is still very heavy as a result of action taken by the Placerville City Council on Nov. 12 to close Hangtown Haven. Neither the very legitimate concerns of property owners nor residents of the Haven was addressed successfully. This was due, in part, to the faulty logic of council members and the police chief that the existence of the Haven was the only reason for the growth of the general homeless population in our area.
One of the speakers for the Haven referred to the “possibility” that the release of 147 convicted felon parolees into El Dorado, not the existence of the Haven, was a factor for the increased vandalism to personal property in the county. There was no reaction to her comments by members of the council, the city manager or the chief of police. I’m afraid that homeowners’ properties will continue to be violated because the homeless
individuals who are causing them well-justified anguish will still be in their neighborhoods and likely be joined by new parolees.
A city employee made quite a point about a meeting he had arranged with several county departments that was cancelled due to lack of interest from residents of the Haven. The reality is that the help that was being offered was for services that the residents are already receiving. A very active resident council and numerous knowledgeable volunteers were responsible for this. What these citizens needed was a place to call home, not offers of help in areas in which they are already being served.
My lament in recent times has been that state and national elected officials have not been responsible for the two parts of their jobs. The first, of course, is to represent the interest of voters who put them in office. The second, and more difficult, is to inform and lead the voters to understand the needs of all residents and suggest strategies that will benefit diverse elements of the community. I believe the members of the Placerville City Council have those dual responsibilities as well. Instead of telling all those present at the meeting why they individually couldn’t continue to support the Haven, I wish they had stood-up for a successful program that they’d made possible and had also committed themselves to addressing the very real concerns of property owners and our homeless neighbors. I’m afraid they accomplished neither.