Council Vows to Drastically Change Pacifico after Hearing Earful from Neighbors

Lisa Baker gives part of the staff presentation on Tuesday

The council heard more than an hour of public comment on Tuesday, mostly from neighbors and adjacent residents complaining about the ongoing nuisance at Pacifico.  Mayor Brett Lee did not even wait for his colleagues – he jumped in with a recommendation for drastic change at the facility.

“My solution would be to change the use of the current affordable project there,” he said, asking staff to investigate the possibility of it being seniors only.  His colleagues, while perhaps less explicit on the specific use, agreed with the idea that staff re-examine the usage of the facility to look at a variety of alternative resident categories in order to deal with the problems that are reported on the ground.

“The message is that all of us realize that there is a significant problem we need to address,” Dan Carson explained.

The council listened to more than an hour of public comment – almost all of it laying out in clear terms that there is an ongoing problem.

This was despite claims from both Chief Darren Pytel and Yolo Housing Authority Director Lisa Baker that the problems do not appear that severe.

Chief Pytel told the council, “This particular complex over the years has not been a particular problem.”  He said, “The calls for service are not inordinate for this complex.”

But he did note that there is a need to address the wider concerns and some of the issues the neighbors are complaining about.  He noted in particular the problems at the Putah Bike Path, the secluded nature of the area and the fact that there are overlapping jurisdictions with the city of Davis and Yolo and Solano Counties in close proximity.

“I can’t discount at all what the residents are feeling,” he said.  “There is an increased amount of… disorder.”

The council heard it loud and clear from nearby residents.

Matthew Lang who lives on Evergreen Court complained that, while it says co-op on the sign, “It’s not exactly a co-op.”  He thought he was moving next to a co-op, “We were very excited about that.  It has not turned out to be what we expected to say the least.

“What I’m really concerned about is what’s happening in the city,” he said.  “We are seeing a condensation of units where there is unwealth…  There was never really any ghetto.  There were never really any bad units.”

He complained that they are consolidating low income housing in one portion of town, “rather than spreading the burden through the entire city.”

John Slater asked that the council to no longer partner with Yolo County Housing and also find new uses for the four buildings at Pacifico.

“There have been a lot of problems with crime, but that’s not my primary concern,” he said.  “My primary concern has been the response of Yolo County Housing to these problems.”  He said, “They deny that there are problems.

“We have a great neighborhood with the exception of Yolo County Housing,” he said.  “You are their landlords, please evict them.”

Eric Johnson disagreed with Chief Pytel that Pacifico does not have a lot of calls for service.  He said that on Pacifico there is at least two calls per unit while every other property has one-half to one call per unit.

“When I look at these numbers, there are a lot of calls per actual bed at Pacifico,” he said.

Marty West was one of the few supporters of Pacifico, and she argued, “The problem in Davis is homelessness, not Pacifico.”

Mure Traverso said, “There is a huge number of Oakshade residents, all in the same mindset that we’re opposed to the Pacifico Project.”  He argued, “There has been a major uptick in crime in the last two years since the Housing Authority has taken over.”

He said there are more people not here tonight that have concerns over this.  He wants better transparency from the housing authority as to what’s taken place there.

Jeff Barteck talked about the unfairness of allowing these problems to go on for so long.  He argued that the number of service calls is misleading.  “The volume of service calls is much higher,” he said, when the fact that they are only talking about 48 units is taken into account.  Moreover, “Even more troubling is the nature of the calls.”

He argued that 31 percent of the Pacifico calls are threatening.  “It’s clear to me that… Pacifico is negatively impacting the neighborhood.”

Emily Darrin is the director at an adjacent apartment complex.  She said, looking at the last two years, she has “no fewer than 37 incidents involving residents of Pacifico.”

A resident of Pacifico who declared not to identify herself pointed out, “There are not a lot of homes for a single mother of two.

“I understand the concerns of the residents,” she said.  “But we’re not all bad, we’re not all ghetto.”

Another woman speaking on behalf of a Pacifico resident said, “They specifically told me that there has been chronic infestations of bed bugs in the complex.

“There might be some good at Pacifico,” she said.  “But some sort of changeover of management is needed.”

Kumar Sah told the council, “I have stopped walking or riding my bike” through that area after seeing a person throw a bottle that almost hit another person in the head.

Kristi Friese noted, “The way that Pacifico is being managed, it’s not making our kids safe.”

Jenny with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) said that after observing people at Pacifico, “I felt that they weren’t in a living situation conducive to recovery.”

Mayor Brett Lee told his colleagues, “I have a favorable view of Yolo County Housing,” but he argued, “The big picture is important.

“I don’t believe by changing the use of Pacifico that we’re neglecting people at risk for homelessness or neglecting people in true need for affordable housing,” he said.  “In fairness for the neighbors, I think we need to hit the reset and start with a cleaner slate.”

Councilmember Lucas Frerichs stated, “I’m mostly in agreement with (the mayor).”  He told the community, “There is no question we’re taking this issue seriously.”

He noted, “The lack of affordable housing… is one of the most vexing local government issue that we’re all facing in California right now.”

At the same time, he noted that while the affordable communities are located throughout the city, and “issues arise in many of these communities,” but “none of them are experiencing the issues that are as acute or widespread as what’s happening at Pacifico.”  He said, “We could be doing better, there’s no question.”

Councilmember Frerichs said, “We’re committing to working on and changing the issues and improving  things.”  He added, “I think it’s time to hit the reset button at Pacifico.”

Will Arnold said, “I am glad the council is taking a proactive approach.”

He said that as someone with a high tolerance perhaps for certain things, when he visited the site, he did see behavior that he found concerning.

He noted that Pacifico here might be getting the blame for things that aren’t necessarily Pacifico’s fault and noted that this makes it less safe for the residents of Pacifico as well.

He said, “That is the conundrum that we have in front of us – how do we help folks escape the horrors that they are facing in their lives … and do so in a way that honors all the folks that are living in the area and are neighbors?”

Councilmember Arnold concurred with his colleagues: “Hitting the reset button is fair to everyone involved.”

Mayor pro tem Gloria Partida noted, “How important it is to manage shared spaces between neighbors” and that the city must do a better job of providing “a safe place for people who otherwise would be unhoused.”

At the same time she pushed back at the notion of a ghetto.

“I grew up in the ghetto, she said.  “I’ve yet to see one in Davis.”  She said, “I take a little bit of offense at people stereotyping this particular population.”

Dan Carson concurred with his colleagues, noting a significant problem that needs to be addressed.  “I can absolutely understand that a family going through on a bike would be alarmed,” he said, noting that “a lot of things are being reported.

“I think there are some clear steps we can take,” he said.  “What can we do to make it a calmer and safer environment?”

He added that every organization would “benefit from another set of eyes.”

Will Arnold laid out the need to make physical changes, such as fencing off the area between Pacifico and the bike path to create a barrier.

Brett Lee called for looking at “possible alternative resident categories” and looking at the challenges both positive and negative to making changes.

Dan Carson pushed for third-party management review as “something we could start changing things on the ground right away.”

Brett Lee added, “Near term, near neighbor impacts that we want to review.”

Staff has now been tasked with identifying clear ways to change the conditions on the ground, both in the near term and in the foreseeable future.

—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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90 Comments

  1. Bill Marshall

    He complained that they are consolidating low income housing in one portion of town, “rather than spreading the burden through the entire city.”

    Will Arnold laid out the need to make physical changes such as fencing off the area between Pacifico and the bike path to create a barrier.

    MDGA = Make Davis Great Again…  low income = “burden” = “them” = “problem” (only slightly better than the ‘homeless’?)

    “The wall” between the bike path and Pacifico makes the bike path a ‘gauntlet’… no good way to escape a possible incidence… guarantee fewer folk will use it, particularly kids…

    It is so great to live in such liberal, caring, “progressive” community…  may we be a “shining example” and leader for the entire country, perhaps the entire world!

    Perhaps Pogo was right, vis-a-vis Davis… “We have met the enemy, and it is us”…

      1. Alan Miller

        Zoning in because you hear a word you don’t like doesn’t help with the issue.

         

        I understand the offense.  In context, those who use the word were saying that XXXX people (fill in the many blanks) were being concentrated in one area.

         

        Davis has a history of spreading XXXX people out more as (unofficial) policy.  Concentrating XXXX is, it was argued, is neither safe for them or others in town.

        Of course, we’ll never see any such XXXX housing in Mace Ranch, Wildhorse, North Davis Farms, El Macero, etc. Why is that? I think we know the answer. But . . .

         

        Let’s not lose sight of the point by honing or zoning on a word.

          1. Don Shor

            I know there was a plan for it in Wildhorse. I don’t know if it got built.

            I believe the apartments there qualify as affordable housing.

        1. Alan Miller

          I should have clarified – I did not mean simply ‘affordable’ housing by designation.  I meant a homeless shelter, a mental-health housing facility, Section 8 special X – I don’t know the exact designation.  Those sorts of places are not going to be found in the more affluent neighborhoods of Davis.

    1. Alan Miller

      “The wall” between the bike path and Pacifico makes the bike path a ‘gauntlet’… no good way to escape a possible incidence… guarantee fewer folk will use it, particularly kids…

      Couldn’t agree more, WM.  Walls are often a bigger problem than without.  People can hide behind them, people can jump over them, people are trapped between them.  I have made some uncommon decisions/requests at/near my domicile, because it became clear solid barriers create more problems than they solve.

      The wide-open integration of Pacifico with the bike path is a great urban design, and could be great again. Putting in a gate when those on the outside have friends on the inside solves nothing and creates new problems. No fence!

      And the irony of progressive Davis calling for a wall to — keep people out? — keep people in? . . . . . . well . . . hmmm . . .

    2. Sharla Cheney

      The fence does not need to be right on the path.  It could be built higher up, just like the other fences along the path behind single family homes, the trailer park, etc.  It would not produce a gauntlet.  There could be a gate to access the path, up the side of the property, so people could access the path when needed, but the fence would make it feel less like people on the path were traveling through Pacifico’s back yard.

        1. Sharla Cheney

          Yes, similar to the fences behind other properties along the bike path – set back from the path.  The fence needs to be attractive and it needs a gate, maybe placed up the side of the property, so residents can access the path when they want to.  Calling it a “wall” is a misnomer and, in the current climate, upsetting.  A fence would help define the property as separate from the bike path and provide greater ability to supervise it.

  2. Don Shor

    Based on the descriptions of behaviors I have heard from residents living near this facility, it seems that the property managers need to hire private security for the time being, until the city decides what changes will be made, and the city and county need to step up patrol efforts in the area. The basic problem seems to be how remote this site is from public safety resources.

      1. Dave Hart

        I can’t explain Alan’s comment, only he can, but I understand Don’s comment.  The section of the path behind Pacifico does feel a bit like no-man’s-land.  One sees a lot of vagrant activity there.  I don’t know if Pacifico is attracting it, or simply the victim of it, but I agree with the characterization by Don.  It feels like someone could commit a crime out there and have a better chance of successfully disappearing because of limited access.  This remoteness is also what makes it potentially so attractive for everyone.  You get a nice feeling of wilderness along that that section of bike path tempered by apprehension about what you might encounter and I don’t mean bears or mountain lions.

  3. Sharla Cheney

    I’ve been inside Pacifico on several occasions.  It is designed like a dorm – tiny rooms that fit only a single bed and maybe a dresser, and then a small common kitchen area on each floor and bathrooms down the hall.  There is no living / day room for residents to gather or for people to get out of their tiny rooms.  It is a miserable housing design for something that is managed like an apartment building.   By design, everyone needs to get along.  The facility needs to be closely managed like a co-op and create a very strong tenant Board to establish rules.  It could be an asset for the community, but mixing different populations – mentally ill, elderly, younger drug or alcohol users and then providing little oversight, creates an unsafe place for all populations.  It really needs to turn into an mildly assisted living situation – that level of care – rather than looked at as a regular apartment.  I support the building of the fence to separate the path, but there needs to be some kind of gate, maybe up the side of the property,  so people can access the path when they need to come and go.

    I also have to say that I have run and biked along the path frequently and have never experienced a problem when I traveled by Pacifico, but I just motor by and never at night.

    1. Bill Marshall

      You are correct as to the “by design”… the original model failed… it was meant as a ‘co-op’… for students… as I recall, it was originally started by a Japanese firm.  Might be wrong.  Can’t verify with the original developer… unless I go with a seance…

  4. Eric Gelber

    From the police chief:

    This particular complex over the years has not been a particular problem.

     

    From the mayor:

    My solution would be to change the use of the current affordable project there,” he said asking staff to investigate the possibility of it being senior only.

     

    So, to address what may be more a problem of perception than reality, it is proposed to change the use of the complex to serve a more acceptable class of poor people. We’re apparently OK with senior “ghettos.” And, if we change the use of Pacifico, what is the plan to provide alternative housing for the current and future residents who would no longer be able to live there?

      1. Alan Miller

        Did he provide any statistics?

        He did, and later said that statistics are just one measure and don’t paint the whole picture.  Many residents commented that much of what they see isn’t something easily reported, and has gotten so common that they avoid the area or don’t bother calling due to non-response or non-action.

    1. Sharla Cheney

      It would be a miserable place for seniors.  The rooms are not designed for people with walkers or wheel chairs, etc.  There is no place to gather, watch TV or talk.  Kitchen facilities are minimal.   The building interiors would have to undergo a complete remodel to provide adequate housing for an aging population.

      1. Bill Marshall

        You are correct… seniors would be more vulnerable to the identified problem… folk on the bikeway/greenbelt… few of those folk are dangerous… but most find them annoying…

    2. Alan Miller

       to address what may be more a problem of perception than reality

      Watch the video of last night’s public comments.  There was a stream of neighbors all describing the same issues – crime, visible drug use, fear for their safety.  Those people aren’t perceiving a problem, unless the entire neighborhood is sharing a common schizophrenic delusion.

      1. Eric Gelber

        Are you saying a stream of neighbors witnessed crimes and open drug use on the property? Did they report it at the time? There would be a record.

         
        I’ve handled many situations of neighbor fears about special needs housing locating in their neighborhood, including homes for non-ambulatory people with developmental disabilities with continuous nursing care needs. I have no idea if the neighbors’ concerns here are reasonable; but I do know it doesn’t require “common schizophrenic delusions” for groups of neighbors to have irrational or exaggerated fears about people living in affordable housing, housing for people with disabilities, etc.

    1. Tia Will

      The city was willing to do just this with the much more attractive and navigable structures at the former site of Families First on 5th street. I see the design of Pacifico as much less functional than those were.

      1. Bill Marshall

        The city was willing to do just this (demotion/re-do)

        Big diff… Families First property owners asked for a ‘ministerial’ permit… to do the demo…

        Pacifico property is owned by the City, based on the accounts… that would be a ‘legislative’ act…

        In the latter, the City bears the entire cost of the demo.   Your tax dollars at work.  Not the case for FF.

        Then the City would bear the burden for re-purposing… not the case for Families First site.

        Comparing apples to hermit crabs…

        Just saying…

  5. Don Shor

    I’m baffled by the comments about fences. Don’t most of you have fences around your yards? I do. It keeps people from walking right up to my back door. Seems like a sort of basic level of security that most of us take for granted.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Don… ever lived back east? Most homes I knew as a kid had either 2 foot high stone walls (delineating property lines), or ~ 3 foot high open rail fences that kids could jump over or adjacent neighbors could sit on and chat… only more substantial fences I remember back east were where there was a dog, or ‘stock’… Perhaps Pacifico should become a ‘gated community’?

      Ever read the Robert Frost poem?  [https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44266/mending-wall]

      Seems like a sort of basic level of security that most of us take for granted.

      Yes, quite prevalent in CA since WWII… fences are often used by ‘bad folk’ to hide their activities on an adjoining property.  Two edged sword, as to ‘security’… gives the bad folk more cover than entering a house from the street, where ‘visibility’ by neighbors could be problematic… pluses and minuses…

      So, you support the Administration’s proposed fence/wall? That fits with some folk’s “basic level of security”…

      Davis is not as liberal, ‘progressive’ or connected as the most like to think… “a legend in their own minds”?

      1. Don Shor

        Don… ever lived back east?

        No, nor do I consider this relevant. In California, yards are considered part of our living space. They are almost always enclosed. Fences are normal here. There are far fewer homes without them than with them, for various reasons. Security, privacy, and the sense of having an enclosed outdoor living space are the main reasons.

        So, you support the Administration’s proposed fence/wall? That fits with some folk’s “basic level of security”…

        Please stop this nonsense. It’s irritating and pointless.

        1. Tia Will

          I have lived in many communities in the west ranging from Washington state, multiple cities in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. What my experience tells me is that fencing is very neighborhood dependent. In areas where people do not tend to have strong neighborhood/community relationships, fences tend to be prominent. In areas where there are very strong bonds between neighbors, not so much so.

          1. Don Shor

            In areas where people do not tend to have strong neighborhood/community relationships, fences tend to be prominent. In areas where there are very strong bonds between neighbors, not so much so.

            Well, my experience was not the same; the neighborhood where I grew up was very close-knit, almost like a small village, but all the homes had fences. When I studied landscape architecture, the enclosed yard was described as a key characteristic of California living that was somewhat unique here. I have almost never been in a backyard in Davis that wasn’t fenced, and I have been in literally hundreds of them over many years.
            I simply don’t think the notion of a fence is unusual or abnormal in our context.

          2. Don Shor

            Side note about strong neighborhood relationships: the last member still-resident from the original cohort of young families that built homes in my childhood neighborhood just passed away at the age of 101. The news promptly spread out on social media and by email to the dozens of neighborhood family members around the world who still stay in touch after all these years. The homes were built between about 1950 – 55. https://scripps.ucsd.edu/news/obituary-notice-walter-munk-world-renowned-oceanographer-revered-scientist

        2. Bill Marshall

          What my experience tells me is that fencing is very neighborhood dependent. In areas where people do not tend to have strong neighborhood/community relationships, fences tend to be prominent. In areas where there are very strong bonds between neighbors, not so much so.

          Correct… spot on…

        3. Bill Marshall

          Tia… timed out before I could write this…

          A common fence with our neighbor blew down in a storm… we left it that way for years… our kids (ours and neighbor’s) were always wanting to play together… we didn’t have the fence restored until they moved… saved a lot of doorbell rings to see if kids wanted to play!

          Neighbor(hood) thing… gets back to the Robert Frost poem…
          And to your observations, and Alan’s (later).

          But, Don will likely opine that is irrelevant… whatever.

    2. Alan Miller

      In many parts of the east and midwest, no fencing between yards, or low fencing is quite common.  Neighbors know each other and watch each other’s properties, and criminals cannot hide.  Many parts of the west think a fence is some sort of barrier.  In reality it is easily hopped, and then the criminal is hidden from view.

        1. Bill Marshall

          In both my and Alan’s posts, you seem more than a tad dismissive of alternate views… your right, your choice.

          The Trump ‘base’ argue for

          Security, privacy, and the sense of having an enclosed outdoor living space are the main reasons.

          in supporting a border wall/fence… on a philosophical level, same same.  Privacy? Not in neighborhoods with two story or more dwellings.  Enclosed outdoor living space? OK… the fences Tia, Alan, and I described are ‘enclosed’ at least in one sense.

          Instead of the Frost poem, perhaps you prefer,

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKlSVNxLB-A&list=RDJKlSVNxLB-A&start_radio=1&t=0

          Will admit that is a stretch, but the idea of “keeping the world out” is very much a part the Trump agenda, and apparently South Davis’…

          You conveniently didn’t address my contention that a lot of folk use “Davis Math”,

          MDGA = Make Davis Great Again…  low income = “burden” = “them” = “problem” (only slightly better than the ‘homeless’?)

          But I guess you see that as irrelevant, also…

          You can always “cleanup” this comment, if you wish.

           

          [moderator: we get complaints about Trump references, so please stop doing them. Thanks.]

    3. Dave Hart

      Yes, Bill, I grew up in Kansas.  You’re right about the lack of fences.  But  I don’t think you can read anything into it.  I also know that ‘back east’ almost everyone has a basement and almost none out here does.  Home architecture follows a local standard that spreads from person to person and is not necessarily rational.  The last time I went back to where I grew up, I noticed a lot of fences.  People are putting them up because of what Don said.  I’ve suggested taking sections of fence down with neighbors, but we’ve all become so accustomed to having them, we’re left feeling a little naked.  It’ all about what we become accustomed to.

  6. Tia Will

    Don

    I’m baffled by the comments about fences”

    I do have a fence around my back yard. Its purpose is not to keep people out, but rather to keep my dog in. We have a large front patio with furniture and various other items on it which is completely unfenced and hopefully welcoming. Just as a reminder, I live 1/2 block from the tracks and about a block from the station, so we are not exactly talking about on College Park, and have not had any problems.

  7. Sean Raycraft

    Some of the public comments seem impolite to say the least. Describing affordable housing in your neighborhood as “a burden”. I understand some neighbors can be a nuisance, but I dislike some of neighbors who drive BMW’s a helluva lot more than the mentally ill dude a few doors down. For example, some entitled rich a—-le almost hit one of my courtesy clerks in the parking lot the other day with his 70k imported SUV, then had the audacity to scream at this poor kid pushing carts, then scream at me for remind him for asking him to drive safely.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Agree… tried to make that point earlier… many Davis folk are disinclined to think of low income folk as “equal”… so much for the faux image of Davis being liberal or “progressive” or egalitarian… many think low income folk should “know their place”… c’est dommage…

  8. Eric Gelber

    I must be missing something in the fencing discussion. Unless we’re talking about a secured perimeter with locked gates, I’m not sure this would accomplish anything other than potentially blocking residents’ access to and view of one of the more idyllic habitats in the region.

    1. Dave Hart

      I don’t think the proposal was specific to a concrete or solid wood fence.  It could be open iron, nicely done.  I hope not chain link.  There are fences and there are fences.  This thread got seriously derailed onto fences when the basic problem is nefarious and sketchy behavior observed by residents and neighbors at Pacifico.  What to do about that…?

      1. Eric Gelber

        “I don’t think the proposal was specific to a concrete or solid wood fence.  It could be open iron, nicely done.”

         
        Same question. What’s the goal? How would this help? The complex is still adjacent to the bike route and there would be easy access in and out from the side or the front. And why do people assume apparently homeless folks along the route necessarily have anything to do with Pacifico? 

        I know there are issues at Pacifico that need to be addressed, which won’t be addressed by walling it off. It meets a current housing need and shutting it down (repurposing) will not help meet that need.

        1. Alan Miller

          You haven’t watched the public comments yet, have you?

          I was fairly neutral on this, and a bit skeptical of the few neighbor complaints I heard, until I attended the meeting last night.  Holy cripes!  Watch the video of public comment:

          Oh nevermind, it hasn’t been posted yet — what gives?  It’s usually up by morning.

  9. Jim Hoch

    Part of the question for me is the problem part of the design or the implementation. Housing First is not designed to be neighbor friendly.

    If you polled a random group of people and asked them “what would happen if you took a took a group of people with substance abuse problems severe enough that they are homeless and provided them a place to live but allowed them to continue using?” I believe they would give you a list of possible problems that would be similar to the problems reported. Overdoses, rude and/or hostile behavior, friends/enemies who are still homeless coming over, etc.

    The problems reported are inherent in the design of providing housing without first changing behavior. This is the intent of housing first. When people complain that managers allow the residents wide latitude in behavior, this is also a key tenet of Housing First.

    Housing First says everybody is “housing ready”, you don’t have to modify their behavior, you take people as they are and put them in a house.

     

     

     

     

    1. Edgar Wai

      But would housing first work if the house is right next to the police station or even inside the police station? Basically a self-check-in jail but people there are not being charged with anything and they are free to leave?

      1. Jim Hoch

        Define “work”. If youare looking to reduce homelessness then taking a meth head from a tent and putting them in a house is a success. That “works”.

        If your goal is to make people socially acceptable then it does not “work”.

         

        If you are a neighbor you want “housing last” not “housing first”.

        1. Edgar Wai

          According to Robb it can make some people socially acceptable.

          I don’t have experience with how it works. But it sounds like it is a very expensive endeavor. IF such endeavor is done completely by volunteers, there would be no problem (i.e. there is no “Pacifico” unless the neighborhood there IS the volunteer maintaining the site, similar to how a neighborhood at L (?) street that has no backyard fences.)

          So perhaps a solution is, how to make housing first more of a voluntary act. There people get to do what they want without making enemies.

    2. Alan Miller

      The problems reported are inherent in the design of providing housing without first changing behavior.

      Bing-Fing-Go, JH.

      That was my point last night at CC during comments on the homeless, after Pacifico people went home as meeting over an hour late.  Hadn’t planned to speak, but everyone who spoke were uber-progressive homeless advocates.

      I am in favor of funding (massive) for those with mental health issues, help for those who are on the streets for economic reasons.

      The problem is the addicted.  They are human, but while addicted most cannot be helped.  Even for those that want out the odds are very low.  You cannot help those that don’t want help, and you cannot house those who do not want to be housed.  You can do outreach and let them know programs are available.

      JH is right about Housing First.  It is a policy I wholeheartedly disagree with.  It is called enabling.  That is usually a term for individuals, but in this case it extends to society.  We will always have limited resources.  We must channel those resources to those who, when you throw them a rope, will grab the other end and accept the help.

      But don’t hold on too tight, society, lest some pull the rope so hard that they bring society down.

      1. Jim Hoch

        I had this discussion with Robb about a year ago. His response was that while the city was in favor of “Housing First” it was not the same “Housing First” that everybody else references which is a defined set of protocols that I quoted. Instead is was some modified form of housing first where people could not use in the residence which is directly contrary to the published  Housing First protocol.

        It was a little like saying you are building a 12 step recovery program but instead of being based on NA/AA it has only 5 steps and those were written by some consultants you know. However you still call it “12 step” because everyone has heard of that.

        1. Robb Davis

          You are mischaracterizing our conversation Jim.  Because of a lack of ready housing options the city places people in a temporary arrangement while they wait for vouchers or other options.  The services they receive are exactly the same as any other housing first model.

          The program is low barrier to entry, which is consistent with every other housing first program.  Because it is low barrier it is NOT a transitional housing program.

          Though there is an extra step, the Davis program is housing first.  Period.

        2. Alan Miller

          you are building a 12 step recovery program but instead of being based on NA/AA it has only 5 steps and those were written by some consultants you know.

          All too common.

      2. Jim Hoch

        “The problem is the addicted.  They are human, but while addicted most cannot be helped.” 

        I do not agree with this. People can always recover, even the chronically homeless.

        1. Robb Davis

          You are misrepresenting my comments.  I said that because we have a lack of ready beds, we are forced to house people in a temporary location while they await vouchers or other forms of support.  These people receive the exact same support and counseling as a traditional housing first program.  The only difference is that they are not immediately in their permanent house.

          The key is that the Davis program, like all housing first programs, is low barrier to entry and, thus, while there is a transitional phase, is absolutely NOT transitional housing.

          We have a housing first approach.  Period.

        2. Jim Hoch

          Robb we will have to disagree until  i have time to look this up. However the equation “Low barrier = High problems” is without question.

          Acceptance of “support and counseling” is completely in the Housing First model. They can be offered but can be rejected in favor of continued alcohol and substance abuse “Although an individual experiencing homelessness may benefit from supportive services such as mental health or substance abuse counseling, participation in these services is not a prerequisite to access housing or a condition of maintaining it.”

        3. Robb Davis

          Housing first is the approach the city has adopted.  There is clear evidence of its efficacy across the US.  No claims that it is successful in each case. It is not.  But a high proportion of those housed via housing first approaches remain in housing (I am not going to search for the data just now).

          So… what do you want?

          Forced drug and alcohol treatment for people to get housing? (Which would basically maintain the status quo for many)

          Leave people where they are? (But I thought everyone wants us to “DO SOMETHING”)

          Make Davis inhospitable for homeless people? (Read expel them forcibly)

          We have an evidence-based approach which, if you read Ryan’s report for the City Council meeting, is having measurable results.  We lack housing.  We need more units to rent to low income people.  We need a local flexible voucher program to get people into market units more quickly.  We need enhanced wraparound services.  We need a greater focus on trauma-informed counseling.  We need more long-term mental health services.

          The people who came to Ryan’s presentation the other night are people who are working, often donating their time, to find solutions.  The rest is just background noise from those who somehow just want to make the problem “go away” but refuse to deal with the messiness of what it takes to deal with the issue.

        4. Alan Miller

          I do not agree with this. People can always recover, even the chronically homeless.

          Yes, “can”.  But addiction is like narcissism on steroids — the only driving force is the next high, to the destruction of one’s self and all around you.  Most do not, even those that want to.   But “can”, yes, it is possible.

        5. Jim Hoch

          “Housing first is the approach the city has adopted.”
          When this was adopted people, and not just myself, said this would be an intolerable situation for the neighbors. Now look where we are. I did not believe people really understood what Housing First, it was just a buzzword they heard
          .
          “But a high proportion of those housed via housing first approaches remain in housing”
          If you take people who are smoking meth in a tent and move them into a meth hotel where they can continue to drink and use, they like it and will not willingly leave. Everyone will agree with you on this. However the neighbors do not like it and not everyone agrees it is the best way to use our limited resources.
           
          “So… what do you want?”
          Let’s start by acknowledging that we have limited funds and help those that are most likely to respond to it. This may be old fashioned but it produces better results than Housing First if you deconstruct their fake math, which I am happy to do.

          If you want to share the tremendous success Pacifico had had, feel free.

        6. Robb Davis

          Great.  I will be sure to put you in charge of determining who is worthy of the community’s largesse…

          And by the way, notwithstanding some problems, Pacifico HAS been a success. Ask YCCC or the single mom who spoke on Tuesday. There are problems that can be resolved—Cesar Chavez has faced many of them and dealt successfully with them. The issues raised are not intractable.

        7. Alan Miller

          Cesar Chavez has faced many of them and dealt successfully with them.

          On Wednesday I heard a UC Davis student tell the story of being recently approached by a man with a knife on Olive Drive and having his wallet stolen.  He said, “I shouldn’t have been walking around in the sketchy part of Davis.”

          Threre may be no direct connection to this one incident, true. However, no one called Olive Drive ‘sketchy’ until Cesar Chavez went in (‘funky’, yes).  And while I was a huge advocate for keeping pedestrian/bike access open from Olive to Amtrak along with the UPRR fence, having a solid barrier there immediately cut down drastically on the public drinking, dog incidents, ‘homeless’ people yelling at passers-by, loitering at the Amtrak station, camping in the bushes, etc. on the north side of the tracks.  The change was palatable overnight when the fence was constructed.

          Despite the reversal to this a re-connection may bring, I will remain an advocate for connectivity here (an UNDER-path for God’s sake) because I don’t believe in walling off neighborhoods and this is a particularly key spot for alternate transportation connectivity.

          1. David Greenwald

            ” However, no one called Olive Drive ‘sketchy’ until Cesar Chavez went in (‘funky’, yes). ”

            Actually I might say no one called Olive Drive sketchy until Wednesday. I think this is part of the problem. You’re attributing problems on Olive to Cesar Chavez without any evidence.

        8. Alan Miller

          You’re attributing problems on Olive to Cesar Chavez without any evidence.

          Yo!   My former barber is the one who clued me in to this.  His shop on Olive fronted out onto Olive, and he had his pulse on the street and the people, having watched it change over 40 years and knowing the people of the neighborhood.

          He would tell me the patterns of the ‘new homeless’, who arrived at the time of CC construction.  He said to watch the people loitering on Olive Drive and the train station, those drinking, panhandling, with the dogs.  He said if you watch them, they go back to CC.  They live there, multi to a room, having moved in from other cities following friends who invited them over so they could cram into spaces and all pitch in for the cost of the subsidized room.

          Curious if he was right, I watched twice groups loitering at Amtrak drinking, then followed them across the tracks (pre-fence), and both times, these groups went staright to CC, and into a single room where the door was opened for them, dogs and all.

          I also watched a group panhandling at In-N-Out.  After a time, they went straight to the Mini-Mart, came out with bags of liquor, and then walked down to CC and knocked on a door.

          You could say that was anecdotal, but my barber knew the pattern already, said it happened every day, and in the three instances that I watched, it was confirmed exactly.  Despite many low income people and some marginally mental-ill people at Slater’s court and nearby mobile home parks pre-CC, I had never considered the area a place of concern.

          A long-time Davis homeless friend has long-lamented the arrival of the ‘new homeless’, whom he says do not blend in with the long-time Davis-native homeless in town.  I guess that makes the old guard of native homeless ‘elite-ists’.

          1. David Greenwald

            It seems to me that the overall pattern of homelessness has changed over the last ten years – a point Chief Pytel has made repeatedly in public appearances. Not sure why you would attribute that to CC.

          1. David Greenwald

            Not to downplay this, but she used meth and overdosed on it. Someone used meth and overdosed on it at La Quinta, does that mean we should shut that down?

        9. Jim Hoch

          “Someone used meth and overdosed on it at La Quinta” Hotels are often closed or subject to other enforcement actions when they become “notorious” for drug use. I’m not aware of any hotels that, like Pacifico, actively recruit and subsidize meth users.

    3. Bill Marshall

      Jim… will bet 3  folk living in the eight houses closest to you have “substance abuse problems” to various degrees… but, they are not ‘homeless’.

      Having housing greatly increases the odds of dealing successfully with the substance abuse thing (3-4 times)… still, depending on the degree/term of the substance abuse… but no guarantees, to be sure.

  10. Robb Davis

    Alan – I think you realize that many folks facing addiction live with serious mental illnesses.  Your dichotomy of mentally ill OR addicted simply does not exist in most cases.  People self medicate and become addicted because of untreated illnesses of all kinds.

    Chronic homelessness is a syndrome with a variety of causal mechanisms.  The neat category of “homeless due to mental illness but not addiction” is rare. Untreated mental illness leads to addiction in many cases.

    1. Alan Miller

      Your dichotomy of mentally ill OR addicted simply does not exist in most cases.

      I make no such dichotomy and am quite familiar with so-called ‘dual-diagnosis’.  Those people have mental illness.  Of course there are a thousand shades of grey and every other color.

      My point is that giving things to those who are not looking to better themselves is a waste of resources.  The triage is of course the bear.

      There are always limited resources, and housing is among the most expensive and difficult.

  11. Robb Davis

    uber-progressive homeless advocates

    Interesting characterization.  Actually, the people who spoke are among those in the community who spend the most time with homeless individuals.  They know their stories, their challenges, their humanity.  There was a high school student in the audience who has spent more time with homeless people than most people in town and he knows the reality better than 95% of citizens.

    These folks are realists because they have been in the trenches.  They know there are solutions and they want the city to move forward with them.

    I can name half a dozen people in our region or beyond who were so deep into their meth addiction 7-10 years ago that I feared they would die in the streets.  They are all clean and moving on with their lives today.  Had you found them 8 years ago you would have proclaimed them beyond help.  You would have been wrong.

    Ryan nailed it. We need an army of volunteers to be in relation with these folks so that when they are ready to make a change, there is someone nearby whom they can trust to help them.

    Not a single person living on the streets in Davis today is beyond help.  Not one.

    1. Alan Miller

      OK, perhaps an unfair characterization.  God bless you and all of those in town who do this work.

      I don’t agree that none in the streets are beyond help — hell, I’m not even sure if I am.  It is probably a good attitude to have, though, if working with the homeless is a cornerstone of your life.

    2. Alan Miller

      I did have a point though . . . that the entire presentation was basically “preaching to the choir”.  As Will Arnold said to Ryan Collins, Homeless Outreach Services Coordinator, (*approximately):  ‘that was a great presentation, but you’re talking here to people who all agree with you.  I’d like to see you present that to the Chamber of Commerce someday’

      *I would have quoted exactly, but Tuesday’s meeting is still, inexplicably, not up on video on the City’s site.

  12. Edgar Wai

    Robb, could you point me to a realistic story (preferably of someone local) of how one person becomes homeless, addicted, then is helped by housing first (or by any other program) and become clean again? (Of course you could change the names and such).

    I think the problem as you said is that for the 95% of the citizen, they simply don’t know of such stories. If you can somehow tell such story then it would clear the misconceptions in people’s minds. For every story you tell, the number of people in the 95% will decrease. To be effective though, the stories should correspond to the more difficult cases, so people know what housing first does without feeling that you are telling them an easy case.

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