Impose a Measure of Accountability on Street People



It’s nothing new to have a large congregation of homeless during the summer here in Laguna. But after witnessing one of the regulars smoking pot on the patio of Starbucks this morning I feel compelled to write this letter to express my dismay on the arrogance of this year’s group.

Having been homeless myself allows me to speak regarding this subject.  In ’97, I stayed at the Friendship Shelter while holding down a 40 hour week job. During that time I applied and was awarded an apartment in one of Laguna’s few low income housing units. Other than taking time off for health reasons, I have remained gainfully employed, able to provide for myself with some help from government subsidies.

The alternative sleep location is at capacity. I know because our beaches have become campsites once again. Thank you, ACLU.

Without rehabilitation, education and a little determination, I could easily find myself homeless again. I recently was hired as a life coach by the Orange County Healthcare Agency. During my employment, I tried to make a difference in the lives of several participants only to find myself frustrated with the lack of interest by 80% of my clients. I am back to truck driving here locally.

As an old saying goes “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing, over and over each day”. Wake up at the shelter. Go to beach and occupy the same piece of real estate.  Get loaded. Pass out. Go to ASL for free meal and lodging. Sleep.  Repeat. Where is the rehabilitation in that equation?

I would like to offer my suggestions here: Persons receiving out of state food stamps and or subsidies must submit to drug and alcohol screening. Why not here? To reside at the ASL, persons should be required to participate in daily work such as trash pick up or brush clearing or some type of volunteer activity. Prop. 215 allows you to smoke cannibus with a prescription, but not in public places where tobacco is banned. It should not be tolerated by residents and laws should be enforced.

It’s not that I have a lack of compassion for those whom have fallen on hard times. But if you are unwilling to contribute or follow local laws and ordinances the city should take a harder stance on the homeless.

I understand that they have rights, too. My concern is for the increase in petty thefts, tagging and poor example that we set as a city allowing these people to erode our quality of life.

People should not be afraid to go to the bus stops or beaches here due to the inherent problem. I don’t know how to fix the problem of laziness, but if you hold people accountable, only those that want to make a better life for themselves will stay.

James Dane, Laguna Beach


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