The Santa Barbara community has never been short on compassion. The level of services provided by some very dedicated folks is exemplary for a community of this size. Yet, the problem persists, and lately seems worse. Legal and social pressures preclude what some might consider “solutions”, and the term “homeless” is itself overly broad. There are a myriad of issues for people living on the street and, while housing might seem a straightforward answer, it does not begin to address some of the most severe causes that make this malady seem prevalent, and the unique circumstances of some of those affected.
Status quo is unacceptable, and enabling its continuation is hardly what anyone could consider “compassionate”.
More laws are not needed. Our existing city ordinances are adequate and in place, but enforcement policies, as directed by the Mayor and council, have been hamstrung by a lack of political will. This is not serving our community. The number of services, non-profits, taxpayer dollars and volunteer participation is staggering for the number of clients identified. The City needs to do the job the voters tasked it to do, namely, enforce the laws that were publicly formed and agreed upon, while at the same time coordinate with the agencies that can provide the needed services. Our parks and other common areas belong to each and every one of us, regardless of wealth or social stature.