Police Chief Comes Out in Support of Respite Center As Davis Manor Residents Start to Push Back

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A few weeks ago, the Davis City Council moved the site of the proposed respite center for homeless individuals from a Second Street location to the corporation yards.  A number of residents came to that meeting to oppose the Second Street location, expressing concerns about safety.

As noted in a staff report, “The majority of residents reiterated the concerns already identified by the businesses with a particular emphasis on the safety of schoolchildren who regularly traverse the Dave Pelz overcrossing. Others opposed siting a homeless center anywhere within City limits. A minority voiced support.”

For a variety of reasons, the council concluded that the Corp Yard at 1717 Fifth street was a better location – closer to downtown, nearer to services.

That has now generated a number of emails of concern from Davis Manor residents.  A few of them came to public comment on Tuesday.

One resident said “there is an unpaved and unmonitored alley that connects N Street Park to the Davis Community Garden.  The park is already an issue and littered with trash, liquor bottles, graffiti…”

She said, “The no man strip will likely be a hiding place that presents a public safety hazard.”  She believes the play area in the park will be used even less now by families and residents.  “I fear this new center will make the area even less safe.”

She asked the city to close the alley in order to improve the safety.

Another resident also expressed concern about that alleyway, which she described as “dirty” and “unmonitored.”

She pointed out, “Police are very slow to respond to issues that we’re having in that area.”  She said, “The alley needs to be shut down, locked or secured…  Let’s not create a Davis Manor debacle.”

She said, “Do not build the low monitored center there.  You are going to truly negatively affect an already low income area of the city and do more harm than good.”

Previously, neighbors from Mace Ranch came to council to complain about the Second Street location.

One person stated, “I’m not in favor of the Second Street site, but we have to put it someplace else.  It’s just not safe for our kids.”

“We do care about the problem, the homeless.  It is a big problem here in Davis.  But we need to come up with a solution that works for everybody.  The Second Street one just doesn’t work for everybody,” a man said.  “A lot of us here on Arroyo Avenue feel like this was shoved down our throats…  No one reached out to us.”

Notably absent from that meeting was Police Chief Darren Pytel.  But after questions about the homeless on Tuesday, he finally spoke out in favor of the respite center.

Will Arnold asked about the issues surrounding the placement of the respite center.

When asked if there was an increased level of violence, Darren Pytel responded, “Not really.

“Here’s the reality, we do have a crime set involving (the) homeless.  But for the most part they victimize each other,” he said.  “I have told everyone who will listen, one of my biggest concerns for many many years is how much they actually victimize each other.”

They steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.

“I have expressed deep concern about the women who are living homeless and are out and about… and the things they are doing to each other,” he said.  “I think it’s one of the tragedies occurring in the city right now.

“While I can completely understand some of the concerns from neighbors about the location of a respite center, and the type of presence that may bring, and the potential for some of the disorder and increases in crime… right now the crime is occurring all over town, it’s extremely difficult to police, and it’s extremely difficult to get people help, and to provide services when they’re all over.”

He said, while he’ll listen to neighbor concerns, “this is something I need to take a much stronger position on now, publicly.  I am an absolute supporter of the respite center concept and having designated areas in town that people can go (to) and have some sense of safety and order.”

The discussion in Davis comes at a time when homelessness is a concern, not just in Davis but across the state.

On Wednesday, Governor Newsom pushed back on roadblocks “erected by Trump administration to get Emergency Homeless Aid working in California communities.”

The state budget includes $1 billion in funding to fight homelessness, which includes $650 million for emergency homeless aid.

Governor Newsom said, “The State of California is not going to wait to get Emergency Homelessness Aid working in California cities and counties. Californians shouldn’t have to wait any longer to see this emergency funding deployed.”

On Wednesday, he also announced national expert, former executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Matthew Doherty, will advise California on homeless matters.

“Having led the Council on Homelessness under both Republican and Democratic presidents, I have seen first-hand that cities and states acting alone are not going to be able to fund the solutions that are required to meet this challenge. Much more federal investment is needed to make meaningful progress and solve this crisis,” said Mr. Doherty.

—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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43 thoughts on “Police Chief Comes Out in Support of Respite Center As Davis Manor Residents Start to Push Back”

  1. Rik Keller

    After several articles on the subject, the Vanguard finally acknowledged the secret outreach that the City conducted to businesses near the proposed 2nd Street site for months—without providing outreach to citizens— and that the businesses raised the same safety and visual blight concerns that were later raised by Davisites who live in surrounding areas and use the bike path: “ The majority of residents reiterated the concerns already identified by the businesses….”
    The article still does not acknowledge, however, the findings by City staff that the temporary day-use-only respite center concept is not a preferred strategy because it would divert funding and energy from the more critical need of increased overnight shelter capacity.

     

     

  2. Don Shor

    “While I can completely understand some of the concerns from neighbors about the location of a respite center, and the type of presence that may bring, and the potential for some of the disorder and increases in crime… right now the crime is occurring all over town, it’s extremely difficult to police, and it’s extremely difficult to get people help, and to provide services ….”

    So now that the impact is being acknowledged by Chief Pytel, we need specifics from him and from city staff as to what resources will be brought to deal with these impacts. The area is dark and not secure at night. The alley on the east side is accurately described in the comment above. Anywhere you put this respite center, there will be pushback and the concerns are always the same: public safety and nuisance issues. What will be done about those concerns?

  3. Eric Gelber

    From Rik Keller:

    … the temporary day-use-only respite center concept is not a preferred strategy because it would divert funding and energy from the more critical need of increased overnight shelter capacity.

    … and an overnight shelter would divert funding and energy from the more critical need of increased affordable housing … and increased affordable housing would impact local neighborhoods …

    There’s always an excuse, resulting in maintaining the status quo.

    1. Rik Keller

      Eric Gelber stated “ There’s always an excuse, resulting in maintaining the status quo.”

      In this case, pursuing this expensive day-use-only center will make it more likely that the status quo of insufficient overnight shelter space will be continued. Why has City Council ignored the recommendation of its own staff and the task force?

      1. Rik Keller

        Eric Gelber: funding  priorities  for homelessness programs/facilities is a very real issue. And the City staff report states exactly that multiple times. There is a huge concern that this ill-conceived and badly-managed temporary respite center will impact the City’s ability to meet identified long-term needs and priorities.

        I don’t  know why you are sarcastically claiming that “ overnight shelter would divert funding and energy from the more critical need of increased affordable housing .” That is decidedly not true and is a classic strawman that you should direct at City staff rather than me;  I am merely passing along what they said . 

         

  4. Alan Miller

    For a variety of reasons, the council concluded that the Corp Yard at 1717 Fifth street was a better location – closer to downtown, nearer to services.

    Among them:  the people who would oppose that location weren’t at that moment standing in front of them with angry signs because they didn’t know the Corpyard location was going to come up.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          It was pretty clear at that point reading the agenda that 5th street was the likely landing place:

          “Should the Council wish to consider different locations, potential alternatives to the Second Street location include: Explore some combination of day and/or overnight respite center at 512 Fifth Street and/or the 1717 Fifth Street Public Works Corporation Yard (city-owned properties)”

          If you want to argue that the city should have done more – I wouldn’t necessarily disagree.

        2. Alan Miller

          DV/Man Behind the Curtain DG:  “It was pretty clear at that point reading the agenda that 5th street was the likely landing place:”

          Yeah, because that’s what everyday people in Davis do with their time:  they interpret City Councils agendas each week to make sure they ain’t gettin’ a screwin’.

          Oh, yeah:  that’s not what everyday people do.

          The ‘silent majority’ you might say.

          Not the ‘usual suspects’, who actually do read the agenda every week.

          The ‘activists’, who politicians and the DV put down, as not representing the real people of Davis.

          Who don’t go to City Council meetings.

          But they are the ones who really count.

          Because they are doing other things, like raising a family, or working full time.

          So we’ll speak for them, because they are busy.

          But pray tell THEY don’t read an agenda one week, and figure out that the preferred alternative of a project isn’t actually the preferred alternative — no that was PRETTY CLEAR.

          So since they didn’t figure that out, screw ’em!

          yeah, those darn Majoritentis Silentempus.

          They get it comin’ and goin’.

          As do the ‘ususal suspects’.

          All depends which side of your cow is being uddered.

      1. Rik Keller

        Greenwald said “ It was pretty clear at that point reading the agenda that 5th street was the likely landing place:”

        This is just another example of terrible City process and the Vanguard—for some reason—trying to make excuses for them.

  5. Alan Miller

    She asked the city to close the alley in order to improve the safety.

    OK, now that is just a sh*tty idea.  As an alternate transportation zealot and a transportation planner, I do declare that the last thing you ever want to do to solve a problem or a perceived problem is cut down on community access, especially via alternative transportation.

    Let’s look at that — if you are going from Davis Manor to the community garden, your walk would be quite a bit north out to either L Street or Pole Line, increasing the exposure any ped or bike would have to the automobile.  How in G*d’s name does that help “safety”???!!!!?!

    1. Alan Miller

      Really, a much better idea would be a closed circuit TV monitoring of the alley from the police dispatcher’s desk along with prominent signs pointing out the monitoring, and decent 2700k park-style path lighting all the way from 5th to Pomona, as part of the budget in staring the respite center.

      1. Don Shor

        More lighting is needed all the way around the corp yard for this project.
        My recollection is there was discussion a couple of months ago about getting a grant to actually improve the path that runs between the corp yard and the community gardens. But there is no question that the current configuration and lack of security is a problem.

        1. Bill Marshall

          Alan… another way of putting that, is “if money is a problem, there is no problem”… from whatever source… former supervisor taught me that “koan”..

  6. Alan Miller

    ” . . . we do have a crime set involving (the) homeless.  But for the most part they victimize each other . . . one of my biggest concerns for many many years is how much they actually victimize each other . . . they steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.”

    “While I can completely understand some of the concerns from neighbors about the location of a respite center, and the type of presence that may bring, and the potential for some of the disorder and increases in crime… right now the crime is occurring all over town, it’s extremely difficult to police, and it’s extremely difficult to get people help, and to provide services when they’re all over.”

    Tell me where I am wrong in my interpretation of the Chief’s comments, above . . .

    The so-called homeless steal, beat other people, and assault women
    But do the so-called homeless cause an increase in violence?  Answer:  “Not really” . . . . . . . (#ahem#)
    He understands why Davis Manor neighbors are concerned.
    Concerns of neighbors include, the “type of presence” so-called homeless may bring.   (The type of presence that steals, beats other people, and sexually assaults women?)
    There is a potential for some ‘disorder’ and increase in crime.
    But right now it’s occurring all over town, so it’s hard to get a grip on it.
    Having it in one place, such as adjacent to Davis Manor, right up the road from the police station, will make it easier to get a handle on all that crime now occurring all over town.
    Oh, and it will be easier to get the so-called homeless help and services.

    Your turn.  How do you interpret his comments, “Dear Reader”?

      1. Rik Keller

        Greenwald asked: “ How many assaults in Davis by a homeless person in 2019? How many sexual assaults in Davis by a homeless person in 2019?”

        According to your own writing, it is “continuous.” This is what you wrote: “They steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.”

  7. Alan Miller

    ” . . . we do have a crime set involving (the) homeless.  But for the most part they victimize each other . . . one of my biggest concerns for many many years is how much they actually victimize each other . . . they steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.”

    “While I can completely understand some of the concerns from neighbors about the location of a respite center, and the type of presence that may bring, and the potential for some of the disorder and increases in crime… right now the crime is occurring all over town, it’s extremely difficult to police, and it’s extremely difficult to get people help, and to provide services when they’re all over.”

    Tell me where I am wrong in my interpretation of the Chief’s comments, above . . .

    • The so-called homeless steal, beat other people, and assault women
    • But do the so-called homeless cause an increase in violence?  Answer:  “Not really” . . . . . . . (#ahem#)
    • He understands why Davis Manor neighbors are concerned.
    • Concerns of neighbors include, the “type of presence” so-called homeless may bring.   (The type of presence that steals, beats other people, and sexually assaults women?)
    • There is a potential for some ‘disorder’ and increase in crime.
    • But right now it’s occurring all over town, so it’s hard to get a grip on it.
    • Having it in one place, such as adjacent to Davis Manor, right up the road from the police station, will make it easier to get a handle on all that crime now occurring all over town.
    • Oh, and it will be easier to get the so-called homeless help and services.

    Your turn.  How do you interpret his comments, “Dear Reader”?

    1. Alan Miller

      David Greenwald asked me (in format-poor comment re-posted here):

      Alan –

      Yes?

      How many assaults in Davis by a homeless person in 2019?

      I dunno.  Ask the police chief.

      How many sexual assaults in Davis by a homeless person in 2019?

      I dunno.  Ask the police chief.

      And . . . you’ll have to define the term “homeless”, and probably write an asterisk footnote the size of an essay on how statistics on crimes involving the so-called “homeless” are tabulated by the Davis Police Dept.

      1. Bill Marshall

        you’ll have to define the term “homeless”, and probably write an asterisk footnote the size of an essay on how statistics on crimes involving the so-called “homeless” are tabulated by the Davis Police Dept.

        And, college students, junior/high school students, renters, homeowners, casino workers, domestic partners/spouses, psychiatrist, professors, folk from out of town (by same categories… sub-categories)… all of those have been responsible for rapes/sexual violence/murder/assaults/larceny… we should also add gender, ethnicity, sexual identity, immigration status as sub-categories… and clearly, those should be clearly differentiated.

        But your point that without data, broad statements are questionable (those statements may be correct, but not hard data supported)… subject to question… but not necessarily automatic disbelief/dismissal…

        I agree with the futility of requiring the “closure” of the access way (not an alley) on the NE quadrant of the corp yard… closures can be opened… (see UPRR along Olive Drive)…

        Criminality needs to be dealt with… and, lack of shelter, mental health issues, etc.  They are intertwined, but no direct causalty.

         

        1. Alan Miller

          (see UPRR along Olive Drive)…

          I have.  What a pathetic mess that so-called fence is.  Bloody waste of taxpayer money — as I testified repeatedly before it was built.

        2. Bill Marshall

          I agree the fencing was a “joke”… I question whether taxpayers or rate payers (Amtrak users, UPRR [paying via cost of freight]) bear the costs…

          The fencing along UPRR/Amtrak, in Davis, and the folk who still cross, remind me greatly of another proposed “wall”… same effectiveness, and at greater cost… which would be financed by taxpayers…

        1. Alan Miller

          Alan Miller – aren’t you calling into question the police chief’s claims while admitting you don’t have data to confirm or deny them?

          Yeah, CR, I don’t have data because I’m not the Police Chief.

          And I wasn’t ‘questioning’ his ‘claims’, I was trying to interpret what he was saying.

          There wasn’t any data presented in what I tried to interpret, except maybe ‘not really’ meaning ‘no’, the so-called homeless caused no increase in violence, ‘not really’.

          But then again he said they were thieves, batterers and rapists.

          But that won’t spill out to housed people — they only do it to themselves.

          Did I read between the lines wrong?

          Please, tell me.

  8. Alan Miller

    The state budget includes $1 billion in funding to fight homelessness, which includes $650 million for emergency homeless aid.

    Beware the Homeless Industrial Complex

    1. Bill Marshall

      Don’t forget the Mental Health Industrial Complex, the Welfare Industrial Complex, the Substance Abuse Industrial Complex, the Humanitarian Industrial Complex, the Medical Care Industrial Complex… Beware.

  9. Alan Miller

    “I am an absolute supporter of the respite center concept and having designated areas in town that people can go (to) and have some sense of safety and order.”

    Perhaps . . . . . five?  (And if we had gone to seven districts . . . seven)

  10. Alan Miller

    “Having led the Council on Homelessness under both Republican and Democratic presidents, I have seen first-hand that cities and states acting alone are not going to be able to fund the solutions that are required to meet this challenge. Much more federal investment is needed to make meaningful progress and solve this crisis,”

    So, Mr. Doherty, having been in charge of the federal spigot of the Homeless Industrial Complex under “both Republican and Democratic presidents”, the homeless problem is worse than ever, and your solutions is “much more federal investment”.

    Uh huh.

    Beware the Homeless Industrial Complex.

    1. Bill Marshall

      Ex 23:9 (many other cites in the “old”, and “new” ‘scriptures’, and in the texts of many other belief systems… Hindu, Islam, Buddhist, etc., etc.)

  11. Rik Keller

    The article states “When asked if there was an increased level of violence, Darren Pytel responded, “Not really.””

    Given that in yesterday’s article Chief Pytel (and the Vanguard) claimed that crime rates for 2019 that omitted the last 7 weeks of the year showed a decline from previous full-year stats, he doesn’t seem to have much credibility in his assessment and description of crime stats. And the Vanguard continues to repeat his descriptions without questions or reservation.

  12. Rik Keller

    Seems like the lede was buried and the headline should have been “Homeless people are continuously stealing, beating people up, and sexually assaulting women all over town”.

    If things are this bad out there, what are the police doing about it? And are these stats included in the crime stats that the police chief presented, saying that violent crime rates had decreased in 2019 (based on leaving out the last 7 weeks of 2019 in the stats) ?

    It seems part of what he was saying too is that “regular” people don’t have to worry about it because they homeless people are just targeting each other.

    1. Rik Keller

      Who is saying this sentence in the article?: “They steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.”

      The sentence is sandwiched between two quotes from Pytel, but is not in quotations. Is it a paraphrase from Pytel? Is it Greenwald’s own editorializing? Did Greenwald our words in Pytel’s mouth? It seems to be a pretty incendiary statement to classify the local homeless population as extremely violent in this way. The Vanguard needs to clarify exactly who is saying this, and on what basis they are making these remarks.

  13. Alan Miller

    Back to yesterday.

    So-called “homeless advocates” so often paint a rosy picture of the so-called homeless.  They are just like you and me, sans roof.  I’ve seen these testimonies at City Council meetings and letters to editors, and the same for politicians and so-called homeless advocates west-coast wide.

    And when I’ve brought up that some or many are drug addicts, alcoholics, vagrants, mentally ill, and/or spongers, I have been told that no, actually housed people do that stuff too.  Well true, but . . .

    . . . then I was quite surprised the police chief said:

    “Here’s the reality, we do have a crime set involving (the) homeless.  But for the most part they victimize each other,” he said.  “I have told everyone who will listen, one of my biggest concerns for many many years is how much they actually victimize each other.”

    They steal from each other, beat each other, and the women are sexually assaulted continuously.

    “I have expressed deep concern about the women who are living homeless and are out and about… and the things they are doing to each other,” he said.  “I think it’s one of the tragedies occurring in the city right now.

    “While I can completely understand some of the concerns from neighbors about the location of a respite center, and the type of presence that may bring, and the potential for some of the disorder and increases in crime… right now the crime is occurring all over town, it’s extremely difficult to police, and it’s extremely difficult to get people help, and to provide services when they’re all over.”

    I mean, if them is us and us is them, then would the police chief also say housed people in Davis “have a set of crimes”, “victimize each other”, that “one of [his] biggest concerns for many many years is how much they actually victimize each other”, that they “steal from each other”, “beat each other”, and “the women are sexually assaulted continuously” and these things among the housed are “one of the tragedies occurring in the city right now”?

    Because, y’know, that’s all true . . .

    Should, then, the concerns of the neighbors of the housed be understood, because of the “type of presence” other housed people may bring?  The potential for some disorder and increases in crime?  And it follows, since this crime from the housed is occurring “all over town”, perhaps all the housed people should be rounded up and shoved into the City Corporate Yard and an electric fence and guard towers erected, so we all can get the help we need from City provided services, as it’s so difficult when the housed are all over town.

    Although that might create an access problem to the sand pile.

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