by former Encinitas Mayor Sheila Cameron
Above image was taken last month from Orpheus Ave. near the freeway. See more below.
Are you aware that Mayor Blakespear and the City Council have voted to make Encinitas the Regional Center for the Homeless for ALL of North County?
Please re-read and think about the long-term consequences of that statement!
Jewish Family Services (JFS) applied for and received a HEAP (Homeless Emergency Aid Program) government grant in the amount of $256,369 to establish a “Homeless Parking Lot” in North County. JFS pitched it to many cities in our North San Diego County region and the concept was rejected. Then JFS tapped its satellite affiliate, The Leichtag Foundation located on Saxony Road here in Encinitas!
Last October and November, our Mayor, Council, and City Attorney held two “closed-session” meetings to discuss placing the homeless parking lot on the Leichtag Property, which sits in the middle of a dense residential neighborhood. There was no required public notice and no Community forums to alert the citizens of our City.
This former Ecke property now owned by the Leichtag Foundation is zoned Agricultural in perpetuity. To get around this, the Mayor and Council decided to “lease” a parking lot on the AG property, which became “public” property and therefore could get around the change in zoning without a public vote!
At the November 20th City Council meeting, JFS officially requested to operate the homeless parking lot at Leichtag. Your Mayor and Council voted 4-1 to allow the item to progress to contract negotiations at the January City Council meeting where hundreds of local residents attended.
There are several aspects to consider here:
Providing a place for people to continue to live in their cars, is no solution and only supports those living conditions. It does not extend a hand for the better.
Reviewing the signed contract that JFS provided to the granting agency, one can clearly see that the distribution of the $256,369 grant reveals the actual amount going to “Client Homeless” is only $5,000.00 (2%). The rest goes to personnel salaries and operating costs for Jewish Family Services.
By state law, screening of clients will be minimal. With this particular type of HEAP grant, the host organization is not allowed to ask for social security numbers or residency, so how will they know who they are screening? Despite what JFS professes, any vetting of people is very limited.
Currently, the City supports an “Opening Doors” program through the Community Resource Center and donates $107,000 a year to the CRC. It has been very successful in helping our small population of known homeless to receive food, shelter and sustainable programs for training and jobs… a worthwhile investment.
County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar at her town hall meeting here last week advised that we “Dump HEAP” as it does not offer a sustainable program or means to truly change a homeless family’s or individual’s circumstances. She offered several alternatives and financial support through the County to the City to activate programs to serve our current population who are homeless or living in vehicles. These programs would be controlled by the City, vs an independent nonprofit organization (JFS) where we have no local control.
Lest you think that this one parking lot on Saxony Road will be confined to this one neighborhood – better think again! A single parking lot is not what the result will be. JFS has already advertised the Parking Lot at their Los Angeles location and in their newsletter. The result has been an influx of homeless – not all in cars – coming to Encinitas.
This proposal will make ALL our Encinitas neighborhoods Regional Homeless Centers. We will be a Mecca attracting a very large homeless population to our small seaside city.
We need to support the homeless who are now in Encinitas – not make it more competitive for them to receive help.Sheila Cameron
In a recent newspaper interview, Mayor Blakespear stated that the three entities involved, the City Council, JFS, and Leichtag would need to get together to discuss how best to handle this issue. I find it amazing that the most important group in this city – the citizens – the voters – are not considered part of this equation! Don’t you?