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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Midway merchants, residents fed up with homeless encampments

The mercury is rising in Midway as frustrated residents and merchants decried government inaction on homelessness in the neighborhood at the June meeting of Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group.

“We just have this most outrageous issue (homelessness) that’s been ongoing, and the City has totally gone crickets on giving us anything but lip service in trying to rectify this situation,” complained Art Bleier of Kenton Properties in Midway. “We understand the procedures, that we do the outreach and they (City) are supposed to do the next steps. They have absolutely, unequivocally failed miserably in trying to do what needs to be done. It just seems like this administration is very hands-off.”

Added Bleier, “As a business owner I have multiple tenants complaining daily. I don’t know what else can be done to put pressure to let them (police) follow the law. It’s nothing new. But it’s so frustrating to not hear from the City. We should be screaming at the top of our lungs: Clean up our community.”

“We’ll continue to supply as much pressure as we can through the appropriate channels,” replied Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group chair Dike Anyiwo.

Makana Rowan, District 2 staffer, pointed out there has been a recent “sea change” in Mayor Todd Gloria’s approach to handling homelessness. Rowan urged patience noting progress is being made on addressing homelessness in Midway and citywide.

“We’re well aware of the homeless on Hancock Street and that the Sports Arena (dismantled encampment) is starting to come back,” Rowan said.

Noting pending litigation has been behind the non-enforcement of vehicle habitation expansion on Hancock Street, Rowan added: “They (City) have assured me that vehicle habitation enforcement is softly starting to happen again. You have my commitment to continue to advocate about this.”

Pointing out Mayor Gloria has invested heavily in homelessness and public safety in his recently adopted City budget, aide Kohta Zaiser noted: “There’s been some stepped-up enforcement happening in recent weeks. It is kind of what happened with Midway a few months back, but with a lot more actual enforcement. You are going to see a change in tone in the City (with homelessness). We do want to lead with compassion. But that cannot come in the way of deteriorating quality of life for residents, neighbors, and business owners.”

Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group board members urged the City to take immediate action to enforce existing laws with the unsheltered who have been displaced and dispersed since the large Sports Arena encampment was raided in February.

“All we’re doing is pushing people around, leaving one place to go to another,” said immediate past Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group chair Cathy Kenton. “What we need is continuing, ongoing enforcement in all locations. We need to take some of this huge amount of money we’re spending on homelessness that’s not accomplishing anything, and put it into citywide enforcement.”

“I, along with a lot of other property and business owners, are sick and tired of this,” said Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group member Tod Howarth. “These people do not want help. They don’t want to be relocated to the nearest homeless shelter. I suggest we need a destination for them if they so choose to be like this. All this is doing is devaluing our properties, and our family investments, and making it look like crap. We are not happy about this at all.”

Another Midway-Pacific Highway Community Planning Group member, Judy Holiday, suggested that the mayor ought to join with other big-city mayors throughout California to jointly discuss practical solutions for growing homelessness.

“If we are ever to get rid of this problem, which just persists and persists, they (mayors) need to work together on the state level to get unfortunate laws reversed that are conducive to bringing more homelessness here,” she said. “All the big cities in California are faced with this exact same issue.”

World Nation News Desk
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