Despite Show of Support, Hangtown Haven Voted Out
Tuesday in Placerville, the lives of 40 people already in crisis were in the hands of the city council.
“It really … it changed my life after I was gang-raped. I came into Hangtown Haven and CRC here. They really, they work miracles in life. They work miracles in giving you your self back,” said Lynda McCausland, who’s been homeless most of this year.
Despite testimonies from clients like McCausland and an impressive show of hands raised in support of Hangtown Haven, the council did not give it a seven-month reprieve.
The formalized homeless camp on Broadway will have to close.
“Do you want all the nuts on this side of town? That is a beautiful community,” said Joseph Nickels as he spoke against a proposal that would have extended the Haven’s permit.
Tensions ran high between folks fighting for the camp and homeowners who say their property and way of life have been trashed by destructive transients.
The Haven’s current use permit will expire on Nov. 15.
One of the biggest procedural arguments?
If the city code truly prevented the council from extending the permit as some alleged. Lawyers on both sides of the issue debated the code without a clear result.
Even if an extension was legal, many questioned if it should happen with a substantial increase in city crime being attributed to transients around town.
“They’re using the bottom of our driveway as a public toilet … defecating, urinating, one guy masturbating,” one woman offered during the public comment period.
Most at the meeting claimed Hangtown attracted a fringe element to town, or other homeless people who don’t actually live at the strict camp. That fringe is being blamed for what the police chief called a 92% increase in the need for police contacts with the homeless since this time last year.
After more than two hours of debate, the council unanimously decided to deny Hangtown’s request for a permit extension.
“Yes I’m happy,” said frustrated homeowner Robert Caruso after hearing the decision.
Others in the packed council room were very upset.
With winter approaching, the nomadic night shelter in town does not have the bed space to take on the 40 people who’ve called Hangtown home.
See video report here: http://fox40.com/2013/11/12/despite-show-of-support-hangtown-haven-shut-down/
Related story: Habitual Transient Offender Contacts on the Rise