The cold awful truth is sinking in.
No one is manning the barricades.
There is no rush to file recall petitions.
There is not a grassroots effort to put up a one-issue candidate to take down city hall.
Manteca — whether we like it or not — is clearly on the road to putting in place a 218-bed drop-in homeless shelter.
You’d be hard pressed to find many people jumping up and down shouting hurrah including those on the Manteca City Council. Don’t misunderstand their comments about “we need to do this” or “this is the right thing to do.”
Go back far enough and everyone up there was at one point against the idea of a drop-in shelter.
The reality is simple. We are sick of cleaning up human waste where it shouldn’t be. We’d rather see kids selling candy for a youth sports team greeting us at front doors to stores instead of disheveled homeless trying to hit us up for loose change.
We’d like to be able to see parks used as places to enjoy a respite from the daily grind instead of being taken over as daytime living spaces. It would be nice not to see the streets look as if there are inhabited by litterbugs on steroids with clothes set out by misguided good Samaritans strewn every which way by the homeless who take what they want and toss around the rest as if the city is their personal garbage can.
Our tolerance level for those among the homeless who know they can thumb their noses at the rules by drinking in public because they suffer little consequences is wearing thin.
Merchants are tired of playing a one way cat and mouse game where those among the homeless with no scruples treat stores as if they are their personal pantries and then have that audacity to take a leak against the walls and deposit the No. 2 in doorways at night.
We’ve gotten to the point where we expect homeless on bicycles to run lights the have been long green and then flip us off when we stop so we don’t hit them. The same goes for the zombies among them who step off curbs and walk aimlessly into traffic without looking.
We could all lie to ourselves, say it only is happening in Manteca, blame the council and the police, and then either spend the rest of our time blogging smack on social media or talking about moving to Montana where, by the way, the homeless problem is not that bad but then again neither was the meth problem 10 years ago.
Our we can say to ourselves this is our home. We’re not going to be chased off nor are we going to operate outside the law.
Instead we are going to stand our ground.
There are things we have no control over such as addressing mental illness to the point we can forcibly remove those from the street that rant and rave or talk themselves to sleep uttering profanities and making sexual comments that would make a porn star blush as they bed down in front of our neighborhood 7-Eleven. Despite what the yellow-bellied creatures that nests at the State Capitol think, mental illness is not a local problem as long as Sacramento makes the rules. With all due apologies to those of the other gender or those that have a gender that wasn’t on the radar before the era of Facebook, folks in Sacramento need to man up.
As for us, we need to clean up this town. We need to help those that have fallen into a comfort zone on the streets as we have been doing on a limited scale. But we also need to deal with those who refuse to compromise to accept solutions to get off the street while at the same time doing what they please, rules and the community be dammed.
It is not alright for a malcontent swigging beer who has pilfered a cart to push his stuff around while his dog runs off leash who plops down on a middle of a sidewalk near a McDonald’s strumming his guitar making sure to shout out the “f” word to anyone he feels like that passes by on the sidewalk to smugly clutch to the fact the courts are on his side.
Deep down we all get the rationale of the courts that someone who is homeless has a basic right to exist, to sleep, to go to the bathroom, and such. Homeless have been around since the dawn of civilization. It is clear we can’t criminalize basic functions they need to breathe but that doesn’t mean we should give them the keys to the city.
The highest court in this land in refusing to review a 9th District Court of Appeals ruling involving a Boise, Idaho, anti-camping ordinance that Manteca and dozens of other cities asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review backed the new judicial gold standard.
Cities can’t enforce anti-camping ordinances and similar quality of life laws against the homeless if they don’t provide a place for the homeless to sleep, store their stuff, and do essentials such as go to the bathroom.
Those that characterize the ruling as pampering the homeless and letting them bum off society obviously didn’t get into the weeds of the court decree as have some hardcore homeless advocates that are howling about cities that have taken the judicial ruling to heart.
That’s because the ruling gave cities a clear path to enforce all of the laws that are designed to address the repugnant behavior outlined at the start of this column. If there are beds available for the homeless to use in a community and they don’t use them, then that jurisdiction can enforce a wide repertoire of laws that homeless advocates have gotten the courts to neuter as they basically make it impossible for a homeless person to live. Those decisions elevated the concept of “being homeless is not a crime” to sacred cow status.
The court has made it clear that no one is above the law if a community has an option for them so simply being without a roof over their heads and trying to survive isn’t criminalized.
The need for a 218 bed shelter is based on the most recent point in time count of the Manteca homeless in January of 2019.
But here’s the dirty secret that the overzealous among the homeless advocates don’t want you to know. The homeless can no longer do as they please if there is room at a shelter opening the door for firm and aggressive police enforcement that they would perceive as harassment because the homeless can no longer essential do what they please.
Manteca’s two-prong approach addresses the so-called low hanging fruit that don’t want to be on the street including those after several months settle into a comfort zone that makes it hard for them to return to society without gentle and persistent nudging. It also exposes the jerks — an overly polite term — among the homeless who have no desire to follow rules or return to a life that requires them to work for a living. They become fair game for persistent police enforcement, something the hardcore homeless advocates have been ranting about ever since Las Vegas put in motion the plan Manteca is now pursing.
The light is at the end of the proverbial tunnel once a navigation center/drop-in homeless shelter is open in August of 2021 and the City of Manteca applies enough police resources to essentially make life in Manteca outright miserable for the homeless that don’t get in the game and at minimum plop their heads down at a city shelter and follow the most basic rules of decorum in order to stay there.
In short, the courts have given cities like Manteca the ability to go after the hardcore homeless that are not criminals because they are homeless but who are criminal malcontents who enjoy cover provided by the fact they are homeless.