Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The flip side of Hangtown Haven

Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

A CAMPSITE at Hangtown Haven in Placerville sits empty. Opponents of the homeless encampment warn of the negative effects it could bring to the city. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

From page A1 | October 12, 2012 | 17 Comments

Will the homeless encampment, Hangtown Haven, continue when its temporary use permit expires? Should it? One man with some personal experience with the issue, Mike Garduno, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

Garduno, a 25 year resident of El Dorado County, raises sheep on Newtown Road and has commercial businesses in Sacramento, not far from Loaves & Fishes, a private charity that serves some 800 homeless people each day and provides day shelters and services for them.

“I want people to really think this through before they put a lot of time and resources together,” said Garduno. “On my ranch I’ve dealt with people camping on my property and leaving their trash, people dumping their cars and a fire that burned 53 acres. At my property in Sacramento, I deal every day with people who defecate on the sidewalks, graffitti the walls of my buildings, sleep in the doorway and don’t move when you ask them.”

Three times, Garduno, 61, said he has opened up his buildings in the morning to find homeless women who have been raped and robbed of their disability checks. “I’m concerned that by advocating more and more services all in one area, we are creating a homeless environment,” he said.

Garduno is also concerned about the camp’s proximity to the creek and problems for the creek from the grading, people tossing garbage and cigarette butts into the creek and leakage from the portable toliets. He deplores the trash along Broadway that extends from the Upper Room to the encampment. “They  walk in the roadways on the way to the Community Resource Center and the Upper Room because we don’t have any sidewalks — you have to be very careful when you drive past. What if someone gets hit?” he asked.

The grouping of services close to the encampment — Community Resource Center, the Upper Room Dining Hall, a ministry — is a mirror of what has happened in Sacramento, said Garduno. “The situation in Sacramento where people are beaten and robbed of their disability checks by gangs raiding the place, the trash and public safety hazards, are what happen when you put a large mass of people together who don’t adhere to the laws,” he said. “You create a problem that you can’t control.”

Something must be done

Garduno agrees that something must be done to help the homeless. “We need to do something, but do it the right way — not just designate a place for them and let them take over. We have to try to get them back into society and there has to be a better way. In my experience, many of the homeless don’t want to work even when minimum wage jobs are offered to them. We don’t need to have our city decay and deteriorate.”

Use of vacant homes to house the homeless is one alternative to the camp said Garduno.

“Somebody needs to make the hard decisions and that’s why we elected them to those positions,” said Garduno of the Placerville City Council. “People are trying to be politically correct, but we don’t know who these people (homeless) are. They are a public nuisance and a safety hazard. The camp and the tents are right in view of people who are exiting from Apple Hill at Point View.We’ve got a soup kitchen and a homeless camp — is that how we want people to see Placerville?”

Garduno said many business people in the community feel the way he does. “But they work 10 to 12 hours a day and have families to care for. They don’t have a lot of time to write letters or attend meetings about this.” Some, he admits, don’t want to publicly state what they privately feel about the issue. He plans to attend the Oct.15 Neighborhood Chat to share his concerns with City Council and the community.

Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.


Discussion | 17 comments

  • CaMomOctober 11, 2012 - 11:58 am

    I have the utmost compassion for those who find themselves homeless, for whatever reason. And I think that we, the community, need to help these folks out whenever and wherever possible. However, I don't know that designating an outdoor area, 'policed' by the residents themselves, would be the way to go. There are many, many, empty businesses in Placerville - would it be possible to utilize one or more of these buildings as homeless shelters? Stringent rules and regulations in place, these shelters would provide those in need with a place to sleep, and they could also benefit from employment services, etc. One day, while driving out of the parking lot between RiteAid and McDonald's, there was a man in a wheelchair, with a sign that read "Victim of a drunk driver" - I rolled down my window and started a conversation with him - apparently he didn't want a conversation, he just wanted cash - he gave me a disgusted look, and gestured for me to just drive away... Placerville really needs to crack down on the begging that goes on in various locations - that parking lot, and in front of Walmart, are just two.

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  • Horsetail HankOctober 12, 2012 - 8:03 am

    You can't help people who don't want help. A lot of these free loaders are just that. They dirty up the town and make a general nuisance of themselves. They should be driven out of our town.I don't care if this in not politically correct or warm and fuzzy. They contribute NOTHING to society.

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  • SPGIANNETTIOctober 12, 2012 - 5:30 pm

    There are many homeless people that need help and have lost their jobs,homes,health care in this failing economy. We should definitely help these people get back on their feet. But there are also many many drug addicts,alcoholics,untreated mentally ill,criminals,prostitutes,who are also homeless and most of these people refuse help. No one wants to work for minimum wage,they would rather deal drugs,do drugs,zone out ,refuse rehab,live in squalor and prey on others. It is a growing societal problem because of the lack of available resources to seriously help those that can and want help,and the lack of those that govern ie elected officials to take a meaningful stand on anything except self serving issues.Our country is failing economically,educationally,healthcare is in shambles,and we house the largest prison population in the world. Lawlessness continues to prevail with cuts in police, health care,social workers,firefighters and other dedicated professionals that serve the public. Teacher bashing ad nauseam instead of addressing the problems of society,lack of civility,immorality,unacceptable behavior that is somehow now acceptable. All of these societal problems have reduced the standards of a civil and productive society. The downfall of America is eminent when we fail to maintain safety, get robbed by wall street and see the failure of business to grow and prosper. We feed the war machine but our kids in public school have no books.We coddle the the Arab nations and try to turn tribes into democratic nations,we allow 10 million illegals to suck up our resources that are meant for AMERICANS.They even protest , that they can not stay here without the threat of deportation . Are you kidding me?Try that in Switzerland.or Denmark.Like The Prime Minister of Australia said to the immigrants if you can not obey the law of the country then go back to where you came from.There are so many problems in this country that it is no longer the most desirable nation in the world to reside. Our cities are crumbling , with crime,lack,of services, economic failure,political corruption, greed etc So back to the homeless,better move them on down the road before your crime rate increases , your town is degraded,tourism will be effected,struggling business people can not endure anymore difficulties. Those that want help do qualify for county services if they want to work for what they get. There are a whole bunch of minimum wage jobs out there You have to start somewhere . Garbage , disease , crime, vandalism, etc is what you invited to town.

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  • J. OthersideOctober 12, 2012 - 8:53 pm

    Well said, Mr. Garduno. However it should be noted "Dante's on the River" experience, people defecating, vomiting, and urinating on your property doesn't garner much sympathy in this county. Quite the opposite. You would do better to emphasize the effect on water quality. I wonder if a SWPPP permit has been pulled for this site?

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 13, 2012 - 9:13 am

    Same old same old. Wealthy and more wealthy folks complaining about the less fortunate folks. The poor may not be saints but all the same... Quote: Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

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  • DeeOctober 13, 2012 - 10:35 am

    Mr. Guenther, so the folks who live around the street peoples' camp are wealthy. First, the campers are probably not what I would call homeless. These people are the people who do not want or cannot tolerate the requirements to maintain a home. Those that are truely homeless find shelter within three to six months and should receive help. But the rest f are street people who prefer the freedom of no restrictions. They are mentally ill, substance abusers and criminals. They can and frequently are dangerous. You think that the folks who don't want to live them are wealthy? Please look at the neigborhoods. These neighborhoods are called affordable housing in Sacramento. As time goes on, we will see more and more front yard fencing,security screen doors and bars on windows. The good citizens will be living as if in jail as the bums and tramps live free. Also, there is the commercial side. Broadway has been working hard to improve their business climate but that is nullified when the homeless stand in front of the store all day or go behind McDonalds to drink and sit in the shade. We can no longer allow our kids the freedom to go Rite Aid to buy an ice cream cone because of these people. I understand the need to want to help these people but forcing people who live in modest neighborhoods to bear the brunt of the pain is wrong.

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  • DeeOctober 13, 2012 - 11:15 am

    correction: They can be and frequently are dangerous. You think that the folks who don't want to live with them are wealthy?

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 13, 2012 - 12:24 pm

    I responded to Dee's 10:35 AM post. Am waiting for it to appear, but in reference to her short following message I wish she'd stop putting words in my mouth. There are dangerous people in my neighborhood,but that hardly means all or most folks are of such sort. I hope I can rationally discriminate between one type and another. And, Dee, my first posts 2nd sentence said "Wealthy AND more wealthy..."

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 13, 2012 - 1:56 pm

    My earlier post hasn't appeared online. Too long to redo. A few points: 1) Dee, I never said the folks who live around the camp are wealthy in the absolute sense. 2)Call the homeless what you will but see a dictionary be objective about it. 3)The camp people, "these people": Some may be demons, most aren't. I've known a few people who have stayed there. Young,they weren't monsters to be driven away by more fortunate folks.Unskilled, they worked for barter and part time but couldn't cover rents. So off to the camp they went until they can locate employment which pays a reasonable wage. Likely,Dee and I could agree on many things. I know problems will occur but with local self-governance and police oversight I think things can be worked out. I don't especially care for the solution either but things being what they are it seems to be the best choice for now. And, lastly, as I understand it the camp rules are strict. You can be sure too much so for some individuals to tolerate. They'll end up in jail or hit for the hills.

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  • DeeOctober 13, 2012 - 5:02 pm

    Mr. Guenter-"Homeless"-destitute of a home. The point is to many street people, the street (park,levees, under bridges,etc.) is their home of choice or they find a way to actually find housing within three to six months. Many of these campers have been living on the streets for years, even decades. They actually like the lifestyle of no rules and no epectations. "Wealthy"-having wealth;rich;opulent. This definition does not fit the neighbors of this camp who have to live with these people. To say that they are wealthy and uncaring is a fallacy. The reason the camp was put there is that this is a modest neighborhood and the real wealthy who live far away don't have to put up with the overflow, the crimes or inconvience of living next or close to this gathering of mentally ill, drug abusers and criminals. The behavior of the families is being changed and not for the better. Those thatwho live close probably don't enjoy their yards and outside accomodations as much. I know I no longer use the bike trail or walk to the stores on Broadway. I've been acosted at Rite Aid. The shopping center now has hired seurity. Mr. Guenter, go to the Loves and Fishes neighborhood and hang out for a day. Or go to the lovely parks on the Sacramento/American Rivers and see how safe you would feel walking at dusk. You are right, they are not all demons but at this point I can't tell, nor can you, which ones are dangerous. P.S. Law enforcement can repond they cannot prevent. And having this camp close and laws enforced about camping,etc., would prevent more from coming into our town. And that would allow us to go back to not having to be ever vigilent for our safety.

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  • DeeOctober 13, 2012 - 5:26 pm

    Sorry for the typos- expectations that-remove security Loaves

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 13, 2012 - 6:47 pm

    The only way I can adequately reply to Dee is by inserting sentence by sentence comments, something I'm not will to do. Let me only say: 1)Oftentimes persons under severe duress have few options available to them and for the most part they're not of a sort you or I would choose. 2) Dee states: There are many, many, empty businesses in Placerville - would it be possible to utilize one or more of these buildings as homeless shelters? I respond: Fine, ideally they would be available. I'm for it. But, with cold weather and winter approaching it's not likely to happen. That's why I opt for The Haven, a place where neither I nor probably the great majority of persons would not like to stay. Dee, I've lived in NYC, SF, and other places big and small...traveled the world. I know the face of poverty...and, yes, the problems it creates.

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 13, 2012 - 6:53 pm

    Sorry, not my day. Error Corrected: I opt for The Haven, a place where neither I nor probably the great majority of persons would like to stay.

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  • DeeOctober 14, 2012 - 8:48 am

    I did say to move them into vacant buildings. Homeless camps or gatherings bring crime and grime to the neighborhoods where they are placed. These are always modest neighborhoods. I worked for over twenty years trying to assist the victims of these people. Their circumstances are horrible to me but I know that many of them choose the life style and our society enables to continue the life style and hurts others along the way.

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  • Richard GuentherOctober 14, 2012 - 9:26 pm

    I know what you said re vacant buildings and I explained why I support the outdoor camp. Reread what I said. As for myself I support victims also, those swept up in the unjust political governance of past and current days. Already I stated between enforced self-governance and police review I feel the camp's the best available solution for the present. Sorry, we'll just have to agree to disagree on the matter. And, by the way loving ones enemies is always appropriate for everyone, not excluding myself.

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  • EDC LibraryDecember 04, 2012 - 4:40 pm

    To prevent people from camping on Mr. Garduno's property or sleeping at store fronts is exactly why Hangtown Haven needs to exist. The camp is set back from the road with a fence so that it is not visible from the road, thus not an 'eyesore' or negative image of Placerville. The camp is not trashed at all. The residents take pride in their home and keep it up. They have porta pottys for sanitation and are currently able to shower at the CRC. Before moving to The Haven they registered at the CRC where teh volunteers assess their needs and help the clients get health care, social security if applicable, adequate clothing and food. Those that need help are getting a tremendous amount of services at the CRC and some are being moved into permanent housing. The residents of Hangtown Haven are a comunity of people who have struggled to find their way in mainstream society, they support and help one another. How is that a bad thing?

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  • LynnOctober 06, 2013 - 12:10 pm

    Watch the crime reports from Hangtown haven, just google hangtown haven crime. Another battery report 9/25 department log. No I do not want this on Perks Court. Yes I admit to being a NIMBY. Do I have brilliant and compassionate solutions, no, do I want them dropping my home value and harassing my grandchildren, no.

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