Commentary: Did Council Hit the Mark on Scavenging?

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scavenging-lawIt was a great staff report last night by City Staffer Dianna Jensen on the issue of scavenging.  She brilliantly laid out the increasing concerns about organized scavenging operations brought about by increases in the value of recyclable materials and the economic downturn.

The number of complaints she cited was about 200 a year – a substantial and real number.  The cost to the city and the cost to Davis Waste Removal is tremendous in lost revenue to DWR and increased costs to city residents.

In the end, when the council voted unanimously to approve the staff recommendation and move the ordinance for a second reading, I felt that council had missed the mark.

I do not want to diminish legitimate concerns here.  It is a legitimate concern that there are people on trucks going through in an organized fashion and stealing recyclables.  That these individuals who have been caught apparently, according to the staff report, have criminal records that include identity theft – this is a very serious problem.

But, something does not make sense here.  Police Chief Landy Black indicated that this would give his officers an additional tool to help resolve the problem.  Currently there are misdemeanor charges for stealing from the trash and this ordinance would basically make it like a parking citation (an expensive parking citation).

But here is my problem – if your concern is a big time criminal enterprise, why are you attempting to deal with it through essentially parking ticket level enforcement?  If you are raking in real money, what is a $100 fine, or even a $500?

My problem here is that the entire discussion last night focused on the notion of “organized crime” without evidence of such crime, and with a remedy that would not seem to deter it.  If you can get tens of thousands in recyclables, how is the potential of a $500 fine, if someone calls the police and you get caught, going to deter that?

Moreover, most people I see scavenging are small-time homeless people, who are the ones I fear getting caught up in the system.

It is all fine and well that the city leaders last night were ASSURED that the target was the organized groups on flatbed trucks, but there is nothing in the language of the ordinance that makes it so.

I go into court, I see who generally gets caught up in the system with these kinds of laws.  If there is an organized or enterprising effort, the people caught are still going to be the low-level people who likely will not be able to afford the fine rather than the people who are organizing them and raking in huge amounts of money.

There was little acknowledgement last night by our leadership that this might have unintended consequences, that people who get caught in the net here might not be the people that they intend to catch.

I was disturbed that no one asked to bring in homeless advocates or people involved in social services.  I mean no disrespect to Ms. Jensen, who is a tremendous city staffer, but she is an engineer, not a social worker.  She did a great job of analyzing the problem from the perspective of the city and the DWR contract, but not a great job of analyzing the human cost.

I get back to the point I made on Monday – criminalizing poverty is not going to solve these problems.  And even an organized crime view of this problem still has at its root the 2008 economic downturn and the unavailability of other means of employment.

The people who scavenge to survive are the poor, the addicted, those living on the edge of society and probably the edge of their mental health.

I am not advocating that this is a good thing for the poor to do.  I am not suggesting that we do not attempt to find other means to help people.  But fining poor people for being poor is not going to bear fruit.

In my time covering the courts, one of the biggest rising crime categories is the stealing of recyclable material or scrap metal.  Some of this is fueled by the need for people to support their drug habits.  But some of it is fueled by the economy, the lack of jobs and other avenues for getting small amounts of money for food or non-food items.

An old newspaper clipping from the Associated Press tells of a story from Madison, Wisconsin, where “an impoverished refugee woman’s arrest for scavenging through garbage cans in search of recyclable items has angered advocates for the poor and raised questions about who has the right to turn trash into cash.”

The article quotes the director of a Green Bay homeless shelter who argued, “The right to eat… takes precedence over the city’s right.  I don’t see why the city has to pit itself against the poor…  This is a way for them to eke out a living without panhandling.”

My biggest disappointment is that lipservice was given by five members of council who I respect on such matters, and it was dismissed.  There seems to be no conception on council that assurances made by the city and police are not binding.  That there can be mission-slip.

There were not enough questions asked and there were not any people in the room who work with homeless in the community; they were not consulted.  We heard from the city’s principle engineer who viewed this as an impact on the DWR contract, and the police chief, who sees this as a law enforcement officer, but no one from social services, the faith or the homeless community.

I am just concerned that this ends up being another ordinance that criminalizes being homeless and that this will not do much to solve the real problem.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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83 thoughts on “Commentary: Did Council Hit the Mark on Scavenging?”

  1. growth issue

    First you state:
    “It is a legitimate concern that there are people on trucks going through in an organized fashion and stealing recyclables. That these individuals who have been caught apparently, according to the staff report have criminal records that include identity theft this is a very serious problem.”

    Then you add:
    “And even an organized crime view of this problem still has at its root the 2008 economic downturn and the unavailability of other means of employment.”

    The poor thieves with criminal records that include identity theft need a jobs too. So should we just look the other way?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      I’m not suggesting we look the other way, I’m suggesting that this might not accomplish what we think it will. You’re going to deal with purported organized crime with small fines? In this scenario, we’re most likely to catch the people we are claiming not to be targeting.

          1. growth issue

            That’s just the point, when it was just scavenging for recyclables many felt it wasn’t a problem, but now that we know that identity theft is real possibility that opens up a whole new can of worms.

          2. Phil Coleman

            I’m hoping that the argument given here is that the City Council action should have been deferred or abandoned because it failed to address the far larger and more complex problem of homelessness in America. The problem presented before the Council came with a solution. The recommended solution was embraced and passed into law.

            The rebuttal argument posed here is a vast expansion of the trash theft problem. The very fact that we have homeless in substantial numbers is a societal problem to be sure. We can get into the economy, available social services, and so on. But that field has been plowed many times over–with no acceptable solution found by anybody, including the Davis City Council.

            When you pass a law, you can’t stipulate that one class of citizen be exempted due to their economic misfortune. A police officer cannot run a Dun & Bradstreet check at 5am on some guy with a shopping card of pilfered recyclables. Besides such an ordinance revision would be ruled unconstitutional.

            Anybody can approach the Council and urge relief measures for the homeless. But take it as a separate, not a replacement, issue.

          3. SouthofDavis

            Phil wrote:

            > When you pass a law, you can’t stipulate that one class of
            > citizen be exempted due to their economic misfortune.

            Yet when people of color are arrested for selling drugs, we always hear “racial profiling,” and when the poor are arrested for stealing we hear “criminalizing poverty”…

          4. Robb Davis

            Phil, you wrote: “The rebuttal argument posed here is a vast expansion of the trash theft problem. The very fact that we have homeless in substantial numbers is a societal problem to be sure. We can get into the economy, available social services, and so on. But that field has been plowed many times over–with no acceptable solution found by anybody, including the Davis City Council.”

            I cannot disagree with this. However, the fact that no acceptable solution has been found to date does not mean we throw up our hands. All I could have asked for last night was an acknowledgement that some of those engaged in scavenging are in need of help. Instead we created a category that justifies a narrow solution. The category is “organized crime” and we seem to congratulate ourselves for dealing with it and then walk away from the messiness of dealing with the broader challenges. A socially healthy city does not do that even if it acknowledges that facing those broader challenges will be difficult and take time. All I wanted was that acknowledgement and I did not get it. For that reason I am disappointed.

          5. David Greenwald Post author

            Phil: My view is what was passed will not address the problem that they identified. And it has a collateral of potentially increasing the law’s efforts against homeless individuals.

          6. David Greenwald Post author

            “When you pass a law, you can’t stipulate that one class of citizen be exempted due to their economic misfortune.”

            But you can design the law to with a threshold that goes after big time scavengers rather than small time scavengers.

          7. Matt Williams

            Drug Possession Laws are full of threshold provisions like that. Theft laws are similarly tiered. There is plenty of precedent that could have guided similar wording in this ordinance.

  2. growth issue

    First you state:
    “It is a legitimate concern that there are people on trucks going through in an organized fashion and stealing recyclables. That these individuals who have been caught apparently, according to the staff report have criminal records that include identity theft this is a very serious problem.”

    Then you add:
    “And even an organized crime view of this problem still has at its root the 2008 economic downturn and the unavailability of other means of employment.”

    The poor thieves with criminal records that include identity theft need jobs too. So should we just look the other way?

    1. Tia Will

      I think that David made two points very clear that GI is choosing to ignore.

      1. There are different populations who engage in the activity of scavenging. Those who are organizing the activity
      for substantial large scale profit and those who are doing it for personal survival. The two groups should be
      considered and treated differently both in practice on the street by law enforcement, but also in principle as the
      ordinance is constructed. We have been assured that we will have the former without being presented with the
      latter.

      2. There are also likely two groups involved in the criminal industry of scavenging. Those who do the physical
      work of collecting, and those who do the organizing of the activity. This ordinance sets up a system much like
      we see with drug trafficking where the low level participants get the penalty while the organizers remain
      untouched. I do not see this as a particularly effective strategy but time will tell if the number of complaints
      drops substantially. I would recommend a revisit next year to see if this has had the desired impact, or if it
      merely serves as harassment of the poor in our community.

      1. SouthofDavis

        Tia wrote:

        > There are different populations who engage in the activity of scavenging.
        > Those who are organizing the activity for substantial large scale profit and
        > those who are doing it for personal survival. The two groups should be
        > considered and treated differently both in practice on the street by law
        > enforcement, but also in principle as the ordinance is constructed

        Since both groups are stealing from DWR why not let the group we want to allow to keep stealing from DWR just head down to 2nd street to get the cans out of a big bin. It seems cruel (if you want to let them keep stealing) to make them go from bin to dumpster all night)?

        1. darelldd

          I thought this was a logical question when you first made it on the other thread, and I still think it is a logical and compelling question. If we agree that the homeless should be supported by our recyclables, shouldn’t we make it as safe and convenient as possible? Is the encouragement of after-dark dumpster-diving really the vision we have of helping the homeless?

  3. chris

    This sounds like we are talking about the NSA, look at all the commonalities.. Our leaders giving lip service while the people want change and the garbage scavengers continue raiding the recycle bins for all our personal data.

  4. Tia Will

    Lucas Freirichs made the comment that ” we are not going after the mom and pop who are stealing ten cans”.

    I fully believe that he and the other council members believe this statement. However, in combination with the recent comments made by some of our local business leaders disparaging the homeless in our community, I am not sure that this view is widely held. Nor am I sure that this will be the application of the ordinance.

    I sincerely hope that this will play out according to the council members stated intent but cannot help but feel that it will be, as is commonly the case, the least able to care for themselves that pay the price. It is my belief that a person’s “right to eat” should trump the sanctity of my waste disposal bin, especially when we are choosing as a society to shred the legal safety net with such actions as the cut back in SNAP funding and unemployment benefits.

    1. growth issue

      The sanctity of one’s waste bin that might contain personal info I believe trumps anyone’s supposed right to be rummaging through their discards.

      1. Kick the Can-Down the Road

        Look, if the people are tossing confidential information before shredding, so be it. Once the “trash” is on the street it’s up for grabs. Davis is so not the liberal bastion it once claimed. Every reason to believe this is an anti-homeless ordinance. By the way the homeless will never pay the fines. The courts will be further stretched and county jail here they come.

        1. Phil Coleman

          The contention that, when you put your trash out on the street, you surrender ownership and it’s “up for grabs” was once true under the law. Note, “was once true.”

          In Davis, and other communities with similar contractual arrangements, the trash is not surrendered or abandoned, it is transferred. In this case, DWS has legal claim to the trash for recycling purposes. City residents benefit from this arrangement as the our trash service costs are reduced somewhat by the value received by DWS from recycled products.

          One could contend that anybody that loots recyclable curb trash ahead of DWS pick-up is stealing from DWS.

      2. hpierce

        Shredders are cheap. Once you place potentially sensitive material in a container, on a public street, you have accepted risk. Be that by a cohort of recycle pirates, an itinerate individual, DWR employees, or landfill employees, you don’t allow “identity” information in your trash unless you accept risk.

        I’m more concerned about the loss of value, that may well lead to increases in garbage rates.

        1. growth issue

          Tell that to grandma who doesn’t know any better and gets her identity stolen. Are we not worried about her, or just those that need her cans or want to steal her identity?

          1. hpierce

            How can I contact grandma, and give her a shredder? My 90 year old Father in Law figured this one out in his late seventies. Talk to grandma, and let me know where to send the shredder, if you can’t get her one.

          2. hpierce

            BTW, I’ll reiterate, grandma is at risk even if we completely eliminated the scavaging… @ DWR or the landfill.

          3. growth issue

            So if we can reduce Grandma’s risk of having someone rummage through her data right in front of her house we shouldn’t do it? Your car can get stolen anywhere too, so should we soften the laws when it’s parked in front of your house?

          4. hpierce

            Who said anything about softening or rescinding the current ordinance? Certainly not me.

            I think your analogy would be better expressed is whether we should strengthen laws against car theft.

            The current situation is that, under the current law, there is risk for identity theft. With an ordinance even stronger than that proposed, there is a risk.

            Grandma needs to get a shredder (and stay off the internet!).

          5. hpierce

            My point, exactly, as to identity theft. that existing and proposed is no different.

            The proposed ordinance arguably makes it more likely that it will be enforced, and reduce potential “charges” from misdemeanors to infractions. I say, stick with the current ordinance,

      3. Tia Will

        I would agree with you if there were no other readily available remedy for those who concerned about identity theft. But there is. Shred any material you do not want availably publicly prior to discarding.

        A second point. What makes you so confident that someone at or with access to materials at
        DWR would not take something containing your personal information ? Do you feel safe enough to not shred just because this is an identified private business ?

        1. Matt Williams

          I concur 100% Tia. You and hpierce and others have clearly shone the spotlight on the fact that the identity theft aspect of this issue is a red herring.

    2. David Greenwald Post author

      Tia: That’s my thought exactly. So perhaps what is needed here is a way to differentiate the guy with the truck bed full of cans from the homeless guy taking his bag of cans around town.

          1. Realist

            Then ask our state representatives to legislate forfeiture just like for drug distribution or solicitation.

  5. Mr. Toad

    Have there been identity thefts from recycling containers? It was alluded to but no actual cases were cited. The 200 complaints were from how many? Is this like wood burning where 4 people complain weekly? Why lower it to an infraction if the objective is organized crime. It is currently a misdemeanor so the police currently have the tools to go after big operations but have a deterrent from enforcing on poor people. As for garages nobody pointed out that it is burglary to take anything out of someone’s garage and the police should enforce that.

    Personally I think this is being driven by voters who are indifferent to and annoyed by the poor. Finally the losses to the recycling program must already be calculated into the rates. While DWR was asked many questions about how much different green waste programs will cost not one question was asked of them about how the impact is mitigated on the recycling program.

    Also the idea that these people have criminal backgrounds yet nothing was presented about the nature of their crimes. Are they felons or drunks? Somehow I doubt the old asian woman that didn’t speak english who I often saw at my old place was much of a threat.

    1. growth issue

      From the staff report:
      “That these individuals who have been caught apparently, according to the staff report have criminal records that include identity theft this is a very serious problem.”

  6. chris

    (Have there been identity thefts from recycling containers)

    How could anyone prove where the identity theft occurred? If this happened to YOU could you prove it??

    1. SouthofDavis

      chris wrote:

      > How could anyone prove where the identity theft occurred?

      In many cased the identity thieves “admitted” they got the information out of the trash (in order to get out of also getting charged with breaking and entering or mail theft when they were found with someone else’s credit card bills and mail)…

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        What was stated last night was that some of the people that they caught had records identity theft, they did not state that they caught people for identity theft.

  7. David Greenwald Post author

    You’re dealing with populations suffering from a number of other problems. This is not a matter of able-bodied people who are taking the easy way out. In the ideal world, we would provide services to them, but we lack the resources to do so.

  8. Mr. Toad

    Perhaps a public service campaign about identity theft from un-shredded materials would be a good idea. As pointed out above the idea that unsecured papers can somehow be protected in this manner is quite the stretch.

  9. Frankly

    Speaking of identity theft, apparently the new and most prevalent scam is people filing fake tax returns with the refund going to the scammer. All they need is your name and social security number.

  10. SouthofDavis

    David wrote:

    > I get back to the point I made on Monday – criminalizing poverty is
    > not going to solve these problems.

    It is easy to write something like this from a safe South Davis neighborhood when maybe once a month someone may poke in to a bin left on the street on garbage day.

    The people that live in the big college student apartments backing on to Covell (and most other big apartments where the kids drink a lot of beer and soda) have to deal with people trespassing on their property and picking through the dumpsters 24/7 (and often stealing more than cans)…

    I’m wondering if David would be OK if every hour of every day and night a different random guy came in to his back yard and dug around in his trash can and recycle bin (this is what happens at most big apartments in town).

  11. Robb Davis

    Here is what I would propose:

    When the ordinance comes into force let’s ask the DA to include this infraction in the list of offenses that can be referred to the Neighborhood Court program. Three municipal code infractions are already eligible for diversion to the NHC program: Noise complaint, Open Container and Public Urination.

    So when police cite someone for scavenging, they offer them the option of going to NHC instead of paying the fine.

    In NHC the victim (if there is one identified) will have the option of meeting with the offender (if they choose) to name the harms done and ask questions of the offender: why did you do this? do you understand how vulnerable this makes me? etc. If there is no direct victim identified or they choose not to participate the offender would meet with a panel of community representatives as they do now for offenses with no direct victim (i.e. public drunkenness). The community representatives will name the harms to the community: feeling of vulnerability, increased cost for trash collection, failure to meet CA standards for diversion, etc. and they could ask similar questions of the offender.

    The result will be a mutually determined agreement to make the harms right (as much as possible) and to assure that the behavior will not be repeated in the future.

    The benefit of this approach is that the offender understands first hand the harms caused AND the community begins to understand what is driving offender behavior. In the case of public drunkenness, this simple approach is helping us understand the magnitude of the alcohol abuse problem among young people in town and is leading to community dialogue about dealing with the systemic issues behind that. The same could happen here.

      1. Tia Will

        Agreed and I am in full support of this idea. Maybe the individual could also be automatically considered for groups providing aid to those in need if that situation is applicable.

    1. Frankly

      Hmm… well. I certainly agree that homeless people are just people and worthy of common human respect. But I really challenge this idea with respect to cause and affect. If you are homeless, you are going to be a bit desperate. And your are already lopsided with respect to being judged by your peers. So I doubt that this approach will do much good other than be a diversion for the more useful, but more troubling, approach for having the police cite and fine people that break the law stealing recyclable containers from containers.

      1. Robb Davis

        Frankly, we need to have a conversation about restorative justice. It is not some fly by night, soft on crime approach. It works best with this kind of infraction and rather than trying to take blood from a stone (asking someone who scavenges to come up with cash), it realistically sets terms for an agreement that go in the direction of 1) making the harms right and 2) working to assure that it will not be repeated.

        1. Matt Williams

          Robb, I agree, and further the perpetrators that the Council appears to be trying to target … organized crime … would not qualify for handling under the Restorative Justice program.

  12. Roger Bockrath

    Last time I checked (public information request, City of Davis, recoiling revenues to DWR) DWR was claiming approx. $30,000. decline in recycling revenue from the date of previous contract with City to present. I find it hard to believe that recycling activity by Davis residents has declined. That would mean that approx. 600,000 aluminum cans (@$.05 ea.) got stolen from street side recycling containers over that period.

    That’s a whole lot of scavengers rummaging through a whole lot of recycle containers on a whole lot of curbs.

    If you take a walk along the rail right of way north of the little league field, (where many homeless folks camp) you will discover human fecal waste as well as many stolen bags of clothing which had been left on the curb for non profit pickup. The bags get dumped on the ground so that a piece or two of clothing can be removed for use. Then the rest of the clothing sits in the rain and mud until it becomes unusable. I have personally removed Carrhart coats one Eddie Bauer shirts from these discard piles for my personal use on numerous occasions. You will also find stolen bicycles and parts, left behind when homeless folks move on.

    Yes, the unaddressed reasons for homelessness in our society are a problem, but so is rampant theft by homeless /poor people .

    The Yolo County Sherrif Dept. recently arrested a poor individual who had cut the lock off of a cargo container owned by me and stolen some of the contents for their scrap value. When I totaled up the replacement value for goods stolen by this individual, to be sold as scrap, it exceeded $20,000. The Yolo County District Attorneys Office declined to prosecute this individual, in spite of his admission that he had cut off my lock, for ” lack of proof of criminal intent”

    This makes me wonder why I payed Yolo County in excess of $6,000. in property taxes last year. I feel for people who are less well off than myself. However, I work hard to be able to enjoy living in this community and expect government/law enforcement to stand up for my rights too. The next time I see anybody stealing recyclables I will be dialing 911.

    1. Michelle Millet

      “I have personally removed Carrhart coats one Eddie Bauer shirts from these discard piles for my personal use on numerous occasions.”

      Instead of keeping these clothes for yourself did you consider actually donating them to charity as was the original intent of the person who put them out on the street?

  13. Mr. Toad

    Calling 911 over recyclables? OMG! I think what troubles me is the indifference of this community to the poorest among us. I also sympathize with Roger about the indifference of the authorities to actually address real theft of private property, not the infraction level technical theft of discarded recyclables that belong to the city by poor people stealing cans for redemption. I’m particularly troubled about the theft of bicycles and associated equipment. With the high rate of bicycle theft in a town so dedicated to bicycle transport the lackadaisical attitude of the cops to dealing with it boggles my mind and i understand Roger’s anger about both real theft and the cops attitude toward it..

    I also don’t want to blame the City Council although I disagree with them on this can thing. They are symptomatic of the attitude of the community they represent and its indifference to the poor during a time when the poor are really suffering in this country while the rich are doing so well. I actually feel sorry for the CC because they are getting pushed into dealing with this. As they say “Its a dirty job but somebody has to do it.” I do want to condemn the council however because the action they took last night has the exact opposite impact than intended. While paying lip service to not wanting to make life more miserable for poor people and go after larger levels of metal theft the action they took makes it easier to harass poor people while making it harder to deter larger operators. If it was larger operators I thought were really bothering the people of Davis that would be one thing but I doubt it. They are fast and operate at night. I think what bothers the people complaining is their lack of compassion for the poor that they must look at rummaging cans out of the trash. I just wish you could turn your disdain into empathy. Perhaps then we could find the way to make the world a better place.

  14. SouthofDavis

    Toad wrote:

    > Perhaps then we could find the way to make the world a better place.

    Look the other way at $30K in can theft

    Check

    Look the other way at human waste left near parks and fields where kids play

    Check

    Basically ignore bike thefts by the homeless

    Check

    Not prosecute the homeless for stealing $20K

    Check

    If you think a world with homeless squatters stealing and (almost) always getting away with it is a “better place” you are in luck.

    P.S. Any idea why the “environmentalists” in town never seem to mention the homeless who dump trash (and take dumps) all over town? I wonder if the “environmentalists” would be as quiet if Republican red necks were dumping trash (and taking dumps) all over town….

    1. Davis Progressive

      “Any idea why the “environmentalists” in town never seem to mention the homeless who dump trash (and take dumps) all over town?”

      that’s a weird comment because a lot of environmentalists in this town couldn’t give a damn about the homeless, and find them to be dirty and a nuisance that they would just as soon sweep under the rug.

  15. chris

    Why not ask Davis Waste Removal to reevaluate the way they pickup and process recycled materials. They could employee the homeless to pickup and transport the cans, bottles and paper to various location throughout the city. We need to have chat with DESS and get them on the streets where the belong, interacting with the homeless. They are called Department of Employment and Social Services after all. If we put on a full frontal attack on our homeless problem it WOULD be solved.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      You know what’s happened to the DESS and their funding? Ultimately that’s the solution, but fining homeless people for collecting cans seems counterproductive to me.

    2. darelldd

      I love the out-of-the-box thinking Chris! There are usually some solutions that are not so obvious. This isn’t a black-and-white issue, and maybe (maybe!) if we legitimize the behavior, we could save money, fight crime and put more people to work all at the same time. Imagine: turning a crime into a paying job.

  16. chris

    Yes, I do agree fining the homeless not the way to go. We need to make them part of the community. Instead of making the homeless the problem we need to make the part of the solution. Giving people food and shelter is fine and dandy but to truly solve this problem we need to give them dignity and self worth and that can only be done by making them part of the work force.

  17. chris

    In all the years you have lived in Davis, when was the last time you observed a social worker talking to a homeless person? I personally have never seen one. If you were to walk into the homeless shelter in Woodland and looked around you would find no computers for the jobless, so they could search jobs. If you needed to see a social worker or you need to see a mental health worker you would have to walk from downtown to Cottonwood and Beamer to seek help.

    DESS has plenty of workers to do the job. The problem is they the WRONG locations… The Davis Police are the social workers and that needs to change. We need to put social workers on the streets just like we do the cops.

    1. Tia Will

      And I can disagree with only one part. I do not agree that DESS has “plenty of workers to do the job.

      I doubt that either of us knows exactly what the scope of the problem is and exactly what number of workers would be necessary to provide adequate assistance for all the homeless as well as manage the rest of their case loads.

      If you do have data to support your claim, I would love to see it.

  18. rowdy1

    200 complaints about scavenging? If that’s correct and the complaints came from 200 different people, then that’s way more than the 50 odd complaints about “smoke” — from the same 4 or 5 people — that allowed the Smoke Nazis to have their way.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      True. It’s not that most are questioning whether there is a problem here, they are questioning whether this is the appropriate solution to the problem.

  19. Tia Will

    To be fair, I do not think we can know yet what the actual impact of this ordinance will be.

    At best, it may discourage some from an activity that others find to be objectionable.

    At worst, if will prove a burden on the least able to care for themselves.

    This is why I could ask the city council as an adjunct to this measure to set a definite time, perhaps six months or one year and to demand of city staff, DWR, and the police department precise numbers of complaints, which neighborhoods are affected, number of citations written, amount of fines collected, and estimated savings from this program to DWR. What I would find unacceptable is to implement and then just pretend that we know that we are having the desired effect.

    1. Frankly

      I would like to remove stealing from trash containers as a mechanism of care. With all the care already provided, I think it is not necessary. Must mostly it is absurd to treat it as some benefit delivery system that requires protections.

      If you want the value of the recycling to benefit the homeless, then advocate for some “clean” and “safe” process whereby that value can be delivered. Protecting the rights of people to forage in our trash is…. well, absurd.

      1. Tia Will

        Stealing from trash containers is not a mechanism of care. What I do see it as is a measure of our societies indifference to the well being of all members of our community. I would whole heartedly support an alternative mechanism of care. Unfortunately, many are simply not willing to support programs that might actually help those in need.

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