The permanent housing shelter that is being considered in the Canyon is an interesting and somewhat controversial subject. In the United States, many of the people living on the streets suffer from serious disabilities, both mental and physical. So many of the homeless could lead more productive lives if provided mental and physical counseling and support. Having volunteered for many years at the Friendship Shelter, I was blessed to have witnessed many miracles firsthand.
One of the key challenges we face in our community is an issue of priorities. We have a growing youth population that need a safe and monitored environment. How long have we talked about building a skate park in the community? What happened to building a teen center?
While I believe that the homeless need our attention and support, one of our primary concerns must be the children and young adults of our community.
High school Principal Joanne Culverhouse is leading a discussion on drug use amongst our teens on May 12. As an alumnus and the mother of two teenagers, I am deeply concerned for the well-being of our youth. Drug use is up 164 percent in Orange County and Laguna is unfortunately part of that statistic. While the school district is leading the charge to tackle this problem head on, I think it would be even more powerful if we could create a partnership between the city and the schools.
I know many parents are frustrated and feel that our children should come first; it is difficult not to agree with this sentiment.
The fact is we have options. I encourage the City Council to prioritize and demonstrate for all that we raise our children in and as a community. Let’s continue to support each other and encourage each other and our children by demonstrating that the youth of Laguna are our No. 1 concern. Before the city moves to approve any kind of permanent housing for the homeless, let’s reopen the discussion of a skate park or teen center or a combination of both. I believe a keen focus on our up and coming generation makes a whole lot of sense.
Michele Hall, Laguna Beach
The author is a City Council candidate.