There can be no question that homelessness is a very real and tragic problem and more needs to be done. However as places like San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Santa Monica have clearly demonstrated, it does not appear that a viable and sustainable solution can be achieved in individual cities and towns, even those many times larger than ours with broad community support.
Given the wide variety of needs (mental and physical health services, shelter, food and clothing) the only hope is to achieve significant economies of scale. As a result, the answer must be regional and or national and it will require each person, every municipality and government at every level to do and contribute their fair share.
With respect to the City Council’s decision to fight this recent ACLU lawsuit, it is critical to remember that few, if any, towns of our size (23,000) in America do more, or spend more per capita, to help those less fortunate than Laguna Beach.
I am proud that we are a diverse and compassionate community. We commit some $350,000 year to run the ASL (Alternative Sleeping Location) in the Canyon along with additional support of many other local programs. It is for this reason that we should view this recent lawsuit as an unfortunate and misguided effort to extract even more from our already strained community and limited financial resources.
The ACLU should in fact be holding up Laguna as a shining example of one small town trying to do it’s part and encourage others to follow suit. But if they instead behave like a schoolyard bully and continually badger the very places that try to lead by example, I fear they will only succeed in discouraging other similar communities from even attempting to act.
Mark Christy, Laguna Beach