EDITORíS DESK: Good to see the ordinance pass
A year from now, when the homeless problem has dwindled down to just a few difficult cases, I think we will be able to look back on City Council's gutsy passage of
the no-camping ordinance as the catalyst.
It had been getting pretty bad over the past year, with more and more transients taking advantage of a city legal "loophole" that let anybody pitch a tent on public property. Local businesses were feeling it in terms of panhandling, thievery, filth and lost customers. Local residents were feeling it for some of those reasons, plus occasional incidents of harassment and intimidation. And the city as a whole was feeling it in terms of health hazards, water pollution, fire danger, crime and general unsightliness.
Now I know there are people who have a soft spot for these campers. I heard their comments at the last two City Council meetings. But I can't claim to understand their zeal. I mean, Councilman Gallagher sounded like he was off his rocker, comparing this ordinance to Hitler and the Nazis. Other opponents weren't so hard to figure out. These are the self-serving ones who see in the no-camping ordinance an end to at least part of their free ride. Yes, I understand that amid the slackers and drunkards there are people with real problems who need help. So that's why the ordinance exists, to nudge them toward positive alternatives and away from the nowhere life of the camps.
There is one more point that I think is worth making. And in this I'm really just echoing Councilman Herpin, who received considerable verbal abuse at the meeting for his trouble. Being an American once defined a person as self-reliant and unwilling to give up in the face of adversity. We need to encourage those "Plymouth Rock" traits, rather than cater to those who seem so eager to say life is too hard and people too weak.