Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Safe Ground Cabin Village Idea is Alive, Alive – so says SN&R

March 13, 2014 issue
A full-page article in this week’s Sacramento News & Review, “Is a Safe Ground homeless camp coming to north Sacramento?” [titled “Safe Ground breaks through?” in hardcopy] by SNR staff writer Raheem F. Hosseini declares, ambiguously [note the question mark in the piece’s titles], that Safe Ground (the charity) may have found some safe ground (i.e., acreage exempted from anti-camping laws or building-code requirements) to build the cabin village it wants. In other ways, as well, the article tells us SG may be on its way to “make it happen.”

But while it is surely true when Hosseini tells us Safe Ground, in the person of its housed Executive Director Steve Watters, has a supporter/advocate on the Sacramento City Council in the person of Allen Warren, the representative for District 2, it would seem that Hosseini has failed to fully investigate the matter by gathering the sensibilities of the rest of the city council. After all, a single councilman is far from the necessary majority of the council to make any Safe Ground plan a functioning reality. But it does help mightily, as Hosseini points out, that Warren is eager to welcome the village in his own district in northeast Sacramento. It may be the defeating NIMBY (“NOT in my backyard!”) thing can be averted.
SafeGrounders behaving badly
However, long-existent other reasons for the city council NOT to approve any kind of Safe Ground tent or cabin community are still out there, unabated. While Safe Ground has done well with the Pilgrimage program it has – providing sleep space for homeless folk on floor areas, mostly at the property of churches – its history at illegal tent sites it has set up in years past is consistently terrible, revealing profound immaturity among its members. Further, the juvenility it displayed a few years ago in its effort to waste city councilmembers’ time by speaking incoherent nonsense during the two-minute-per-person time allotted citizens before general meetings is a memorable display of SG members’ foolhardiness.

At the first illegal tent campsite – after the famed “Tent City” was torn down  –  that Safe Ground set up, at Camp Pollock in early August, 2009, they cooked over fire, smoked and drank. Not so bad, you might think, though the guys had signed a contract forbidding drinking and drug use. But that August – like all Augusts in Sacramento – was hot and very dry. The field where they stayed was on a carpet of dead leaves and twigs. On the last of two nights I was there, I got up in the middle of the night to take a leak. There were glowing red dots about; people smoking while standing on the dry highly flammable ground.

Later, Safe Ground set up tents at property attorney Mark Merin and his wife, attorney Cat Williams, owned on C Street, east of 12th. There, the SafeGrounders managed to behave badly by constantly harassing a neighbor who lived in a nearby home. There was a lawsuit. It was also known that drug dealers gathered in the area.
Safe Ground’s Stalinist Communist Moorings
And the last and biggest thing that makes Safe Ground not so charming is that they were founded by the mysterious Stalinist Communist group SHOC [which stands for Sacramento Homeless Organizing Committee]. SHOC was originally a subgroup of The Organizing Committee which came into being in the 80s after the break up of the California Communist Party. The Organizing Committee – or its primary actors, anyway – regrouped to create The League of Revolutionaries for a New America [LRNA] that, today, is centrally located in Chicago. That name is well chosen; it baldly states the group’s aim: to overthrow the government of the United States (such to impose Totalitarian Communist governance).

Safe Ground, at its founding, created a so-called “Safe Ground Movement” based on objectives that comport to those of LRNA. Now, I think that Allen Warren and the rest of the city council have a problem, here. Giving use of public property or sums of money to a political group is likely not legal. And, should Fox News or MSNBC find out they're shoveling funds to Communists, the matter would gain wide attention and, at best, our city would be a laughingstock. Not to mention that giving Safe Ground money is disgusting morally and the ultimate misuse of taxpayers’ funds.

The Dream of a Tent Community

If Safe Ground, using its own money to buy property and take care of itself, were to get the OK to create a small, pilot tent community, I think that might be worthwhile. The exact number is impossible to pinpoint, but there is something like 750 non-sheltered homeless adults in the county every night. If a Safe Ground tent community were to help one-tenth or one-seventh of those people have a safer experience, that would be to the good. Safe Ground made a great mess of things camping in the American River Parkway in recent years and there is no reason to think they will transform miraculously to become responsible, today. BUT every possible thing should be done to give unsheltered very poor people a better, safer existence. And, just maybe, a SG tent community would work out.  And who knows? Maybe from that bud of hope and possibility – and with success – the Safe Grounders can be entrusted to do something more grand in the future.

A reason to believe that the Cabin Village thing is greatly unlikely to come into being is because if it is built, at rather enormous expense, and then there is a flurry of problems – which is likely – how could the city council, easily, be rid of it? The SN&R article tells us that Safe Ground wants use of a north Sacramento plot of land AND $3,000,000!!! What happens, after the village is built and perhaps- inevitable problems occur? The Safe Grounders might quickly fall into toddler mode and protest that fires and drunken brawls are not really so bad and that the black eyes aren't really as black as they look and, besides, it'll never ever, ever happen again!  We promise. We'll sign a covenant. You'll see. Just give us a chance!

At some point organizations that evidence a record of ineptitude should be denied "another chance."


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