A distressing view from a downtown window: Drugs, booze, fights and filth

  

I saw my first illegal drug sale last week. In broad daylight. It took place on a downtown Redding bench outside the Yuba Street side of the historic Lorenz building.

There, seven people sat, stood or milled around the bench. They talked, laughed, smoked, ate and drank. Some people had power cords to plug cell phones and music into electrical outlets. One guy smoked a joint.

The drug deal transpired between two people: a pink-shirted short woman and a gray-shirted bearded man. The woman handed the man a cigar-shaped dusty plastic bag - like a tiny cylinder bean-bag - that contained a light grayish substance. He hugged her, handed her some bills and left.

People came and went all morning. New people joined the group, some arriving a few minutes after the most recent RABA bus drop-off. A few exchanged pills from amber-colored bottles. Cash changed hands with no attempts to conceal the activity.

According to Sam Allen, who's operated her boutique, CAROUSEL, on the Yuba Street corner of the Lorenz building since last month, not only was what I saw common, but this was a relatively uneventful day.

Not all days are this calm, she said, but one thing's for sure; Allen never knows what each work day will bring as she observes through her shop window a steady stream of  people who arrive on foot, bike or even via wheelchair to stop and linger around the benches nearest CAROUSEL.

Even the most long-lasting lingerers eventually leave, and when they do they leave something behind: liquor bottles, needles, cigarette butts, soiled clothing, and all matter of trash and waste. Those who collect aluminum cans and plastic bottles pour the remaining contents inside the planter.

Garbage left behind at the bench area outside CAROUSEL. Photo by Sam Allen.

"It gets crazy," she said. "The drugs come out, the booze comes out and I never know how the day will end. The things I see here I see every day. I don't see it sometimes. I see it every day. I see it all day."

Sam Allen has operated her women's boutique, CAROUSEL, in its new location since June. "I can't believe what I see out my window," she said. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

Exactly what Allen sees includes drug deals, drug use and fights. There was one especially memorable three-fight day, one of which included a pair of women.

She sees police arrests and ambulance pick-ups. She sees obviously drunk and drugged and sick people. Often, when she opens her shop door in the morning, she finds her front steps sprayed with urine, and front windows splattered with thick globs of God-knows-what.

One day as she left work she encountered a drunk woman with her pants down around her legs, lying on the sidewalk with two other people, passing a bottle between them.

Another day she watched a wheelchair-regular quickly drink a 40-ounce can of beer on a 112-degree day. Allen called 911 after the intoxicated man fell from his wheelchair face-first onto the sidewalk. Allen said three police officers responded, followed by an ambulance with multiple attendants.

An intoxicated man fell from his wheelchair outside CAROUSEL on Yuba Street and was taken to the hospital. Photo by Sam Allen.

"It took all those people to haul him away," Allen said. "He was back the next day. I really feel sorry for the police and emergency crews. I know they‘re frustrated, too."

CAROUSEL, Allen's shop, is an upscale women's clothing boutique. It‘s a spacious retail space full of artfully arranged merchandise.

Photo by Sam Allen.

Brick walls extend to the loft-high ceilings, lending an airy, urban feel.

Sam Allen jumped at the chance to move her CAROUSEL boutique to its new Yuba Street location. Photo by Sam Allen.

Some may criticize Allen for choosing downtown, saying she should have known better than to operate a business in an area populated with so many homeless and transients.

To those people she'd counter that she wanted to support downtown, and she likes older buildings. Also, she’s a seasoned downtown businesswoman, someone who's still remembered for co-creating the original Wild Thyme garden and gift shop on Oregon Street many years ago.

And she had success with her original CAROUSEL shop, opened one year ago at California and Division streets near Cascade Paint. She remained there until she outgrew it.

CAROUSEL operated at the California and Division street location for a year before Sam Allen relocated her boutique to the Lorenz building. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

When she heard that the Yuba Street space was available, she jumped at the chance to be in the center of downtown, in yet another historic building, but with more square footage.

The inside of the Yuba Street CAROUSEL is far larger than the former California and Division street location. Photo by Sam Allen.

She’d dealt with her share of quirky neighborhood characters around her former businesses, with little problem.

But nothing prepared her for what she’s encountered since she opened her doors at this new location.

“Honestly, how do you run a business with this?"

Photo by Sam Allen.

And although Allen describes herself as a compassionate person, the kind of mother who raised her children to care about the less-fortunate, and the kind of woman who’s given gift cards, food and clothing to those in need, she‘s turned a corner. She’s had enough.

"Facing this every day, it really starts to wear on your compassion," she said.

"Little old ladies who live upstairs at the Lorenz can't come down and sit outside because they’re too afraid. I hear grandmothers say they wouldn’t take their grandchildren to any one of Redding’s parks, because there are so many scary people there. Customers are afraid to walk to their cars. This is crazy. It has to stop.“

This reporter's view of the drug deal and other activities was from a temporary laptop station near a window inside Allen's boutique. I was there at Allen's invitation to observe a sample of what occurs outside her shop on a regular basis. She's taken to keeping a log, though sometimes things happen so quickly that she can't write them down fast enough between customers.

Although I accepted Allen's offer to spend the day at her shop and see what she sees, I was not her first choice.

On her opening day, she emailed Redding City Council member Francie Sullivan a description of what was happening outside her shop. Allen shared that she'd invested her life savings in CAROUSEL, and expressed her frustration about the large numbers of homeless in downtown. Allen wrote that she was willing to help find a solution. That was June 4, with the subject line, "Homeless problem." She included a photo of the garbage-littered bench area outside her shop.

More than three weeks later, after not receiving a reply from Sullivan,  Allen emailed Bosetti on June 28 with the subject line, "Homeless on the streets in Redding". She shared examples of life outside the CAROUSEL in a longer email, sans photo. She invited him to have a cup of coffee in her shop and watch the action from her window. As with Sullivan's email, she offered her assistance to help find solutions.

As of July 15, Allen has not heard from Bosetti or Sullivan.

See Allen's Jun 28 email to Bosetti here.

See her June 4 email to Sullivan here.

Allen feels disappointed that neither Bosetti or Sullivan seemed to care enough about her plight to reply to her email.

"I just wanted them to know," Allen said. "Politicians talk and talk, but do they really know what's going on? I’m not so sure. I just wanted them to see what I see, and what I deal with every day downtown. This is just so frustrating. Somebody needs to open their eyes to what's happening here."

Aside from the sheer number of transients who loiter outside Allen's shop, she is even more concerned about what she sees as blatant health and safety hazards.

"It's more than just an issue about people sitting or lying on the concrete," she said. "At some point it becomes a  health issue. Cockroaches, bed bugs from old mattresses, needles, urine, vomit and everything else."

And then there’s the larger community issue, such as when customers feel so intimidated by street people's behavior that they fear doing business downtown, or walking to their cars alone.

Sam Allen and her CAROUSEL aren't alone.

Nearby is an office where five women work, and where two of the women spoke on the condition their names remain unpublished.

They told how sometimes, especially in the winter, all five of the women will leave at the same time to walk together to their cars after work. They do this to avoid walking the gauntlet of  people who've made Library Park their home. As it is, the women have grown accustomed to ignoring yelled suggestive remarks and jeers sent their way as they walk by.

The women said that like Allen's shop, their office windows afford views of things they'd rather not see. They've seen people openly smoke crack. They've seen people high on drugs or displaying psychotic behavior. And although they do their best to avoid being too-frequent "cop-callers" - they do make exceptions, such as when a group of people chased, cornered and beat another one of the Library Park people.

Many mornings the women arrive at work to find people sleeping in their doorway. They've seen people nonchalantly urinate and defecate on the ground. In fact, they referred to a small outdoor area behind the former Maritime restaurant where they said it was not uncommon to see rolls of toilet paper and piles of human feces.

Some local business women said this area often served as a restroom for street people. They note that since the new owners have removed the lattice, perhaps this will reduce privacy and reduce the bathroom use there. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

They said a nearby empty brick planter is often pooled with urine.

Some say this empty planter outside the former Maritime restaurant is frequently used as a urinal. Photo by Doni Chamberlain.

One of the business women said she hears a common comment from clients: "Your office is lovely ... but it's really scary to come here."

The women said they realize that not all people  who hang out in Library Park all day are bad, and they try to not paint them with the same brush.

"You can be homeless and still be decent," one woman said.

That's Allen's philosophy, too.  She spoke with affection about her former CAROUSEL location, where she befriended a motley group of colorful guys who hung out near Allen's shop. She gave them small gifts at Christmas, and handed out Fudgsicles, Taco Bell lunches and donuts in exchange for small chores, like watering her outdoor flower planters and sweeping the sidewalks.

"I love those guys," she said. "They’re a little rough around the edges, but they all have something to say, a story to tell. They cared about me, and I cared about them. I felt far more compassion at my other place.”

So what's the difference between the former neighbors who were at Allen’s previous location and the ones who now hang out outside Allen's current shop?

"Oh, a lot's different,“ Allen said. “For one thing, this group is generally younger. They seem to have no self-respect, and no respect for the businesses or the people here, either."

People congregate for hours in the shade of the Lorenz outside CAROUSEL. Photo by Sam Allen.

"One young woman brought a huge black plastic bag full of garbage - it looked like from a restaurant - and she just dumped it out on the sidewalk to paw through. They she left it there. These people, they congregate out there for hours, literally, with no accountability for their bad behavior at all."

Is there a solution? Allen says yes.

She believes the first step is for elected officials to open their eyes and acknowledge the problem. She said the second step is to create some practical options.

Literally, because she's lost so much sleep thinking about this issue, she believes she’s come up with an answer. She envisions a large space with shade, food, water, shelter and restrooms. This way, if people are banned from loitering on downtown sidewalks, they have somewhere to go.

What’s more, she even has a particular site in mind: the former Casa Blanca Motel property on North Market Street, razed for a project that fell through. The land has sat barren, dotted with dying palms, ever since.  She thinks the location is perfect. It’s between downtown and the Lake Boulevard area, two common transient locations. But best of all, it's away from downtown's core.

There are caveats, Allen said.

"It has to be a controlled place," Allen said. "And rules. There must be rules, and a certain amount of accountability. What I learned from my year at the other shop is that you can't just give and give and give, because many of these people will just take and take and take. That doesn't work. It‘s not good for anyone."

Allen is aware that regardless of what description people use - homeless, street people, transients -  collectively, these individuals are a hot subject in Redding right now, one that's polarized the population into two extreme camps.

"What makes this an especially tough issue is the fact that most people tend to fall on one side or the other," she said.

She said one camp consists of the bleeding-heart enablers who give too much, and defend the homeless and transients,  no matter what they do. No accountability.

She said the second camp consists of the heartless haters who want the ne'er-do-wells gone yesterday.  No mercy.

Allen wants a rational-but-compassionate middle-ground solution. And soon.

“At some point, something has to change,“ she said. “If nothing’s done, pretty soon the balance is going to shift to the point where even the most compassionate people will get so tired and worn down that nobody will care.”

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Prior to 2007 Chamberlain was an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, CA.

Share


Comment Policy: We welcome your comments, with some caveats: Please keep your comments positive and civilized. If your comment is critical, please make it constructive. If your comment is rude, we will delete it. If you are constantly negative or a general pest, troll, or hater, we will ban you from the site forever. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Thank you. Carry on.

83 Responses »

  1. "She said one camp consists of the bleeding-heart enablers who give too much, and defend the homeless and transients, no matter what they do. No accountability."

    Wow - this sounds EXACTLY like you, Doni - doesn't it?

    There are so many corporations who pass on adding good, high paying jobs to our Redding community. This is one of the reasons why. In addition to the incredible number of uneducated workers here plus the union mentality, out of control homeless bums do not help create opportunities.

    People flock to Redding because of the high number of services and social service organizations offered. We have more services, shelter beds, Etc. than any other city in California. There are signs around the country and world telling folks to come here.

    It's an epidemic that needs to stop.

    Handouts don't help!

    Together we can take back Redding!

    • Good morning, HDH. Glad this is a topic that keeps you coming back. Thanks, as always, for reading.

      • Just keeping you honest and ethical, dearie!

        The vast, vast majority of folks in Redding do not wish the homeless agenda pushed in our beautiful town. We feel there are more than enough shelters, agencies and other opportunities here already.

        What we need is tough laws, accountability and zero tolerance.

        I have worked with hundreds of homeless families, low income families and people "down on their luck" over the years. These people take advantage, lie and steal.

        Give them an inch, they take a mile!

        Together we can take back Redding!

        • How? Rude and provocative quips don't add anything productive to this debate. Lay out your plan, give some examples and explain how your vision will actually work.

          If there are signs around the world urging people to come take advantage of our services, and these imaginary signs work as well as you say, perhaps you should put up signs here touting the virtues of the homeless paradise in, say, Estonia. It's a good a plan as any you've suggested.

          • How is the TRUTH seen as "Rude and provocative quips?"

            Here is something that would immediately help.

            What about a poop line? A 911 type of number to call when you see human feces (bowel movements) out and about.

            You would call the 911 number, and within 10 minutes a hazardous materials waste team (no pun intended) would come and clean it up. They would also spray bleach on urine.

            A small fee of maybe $1,000 per month would be assessed to each homeless and social service agency in the City. For example, The Mission would pay $1,000. Redding Homeless Coalition would pay $1,000 and so on.

            This would go a long way toward helping clean up our city.

            Together we can take back Redding!

        • Really? You've worked with "hundreds of homeless families, low income families and people 'down on their luck' over the years"? In what capacity?

          "There are signs around the country and world telling folks to come here." Kindly provide proof of this.

          • Folks, if you are familiar with the person who posed on redding.com under various handles including "Redding Is My Home/Life/Universe", well that is who "Handouts Don't Help" is. The writing style and consistent use of certain words are an exact match. Sad, really. I mean, someone who insists we MUST have a Dillards in Redding is more than capable of ponying up the subscription money, but obviously decided that their Sacramento views wouldn't be heard or argued by such a wide audience and the one thing this person craves is attention, much like an addict craves their next fix. Either that or they are just some troll who writes inflammatory posts just to provoke a response to get their jollies. Simple response either way folks: Don't Feed The Troll.

          • Right. I need that reminder now and then. Thanks.

    • Your rudeness to Doni doesn't help the situation!

      You need to learn what my mother taught me nearly 80 years ago.

      "You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."

    • Actually, Redding has far fewer services and facilities for the homeless than most other cities, so there is comparatively little here to attract homeless people from other places. Anyone who believes Redding is unique in this respect needs to do some traveling.

      Based on my experience with the homeless in this area (which is considerable), most of the problems seem traceable to a relatively small group of hard-core drug addicts. It's the same people time and again.

      Perhaps some day we can get Doni to do an article on the actual homeless. To date she's been a one-woman campaign to make "homeless" and "drug-addicted criminal" synonymous. A far greater number of homeless people are in that situation due to job loss, falling income, desertion, domestic violence, lack of housing they can afford, and the like. Those are the people you don't see.

      By the way, the Redding City Council just shot down the proposed sit-lie ordinance. They all seem agreeable to a "day center" for the homeless (as long as the City doesn't have to put up any money or waive any fees). However, I'm sure that constitutionality issues will prevent the City from making this day center a forced concentration camp to keep the homeless out of sight during business hours, so it may not have the effect desired by business owners.

    • HDH-

      Funny thing that you pegged Doni in Sam Allen's descriptions, but didn't notice yourself. Hatred Doesn't Help much, either.

      Sam has my admiration.

    • People flock to Redding because of the high number of services and social service organizations offered. We have more services, shelter beds, Etc. than any other city in California. There are signs around the country and world telling folks to come here.

      This statement is patently false. There are plenty of actual reasons Redding is afflicted with it's current set of problems but the statement above is definitely NOT one of them.

    • Im not sure what you have been reading or where your "research" comes from, but in the 3 years I lived in Redding, CA I did NOT encounter much help for the mentally disabled or drug addicted. I have an aunt with severe schizophrenia and getting help for her was impossible- the one psychiatric "hospital" in Redding has fewer than 10 beds and is cutting back more and more. You have to be in the throes of killing yourself in order to get in. There are slim pickings when it comes to help for the homeless to rehabilitate themselves- theres only 1 shelter. Theres no where for these people to go to get help. And, Im sorry, but the homeless and mentally challenged dont "flock" anywhere. They are UNABLE to. There are more services 100 fold in a city like San Francisco, Sacramento, etc. You make it sound like Redding has been taken over by the homeless, which it hasnt. Compared to many many places, there is a relatively low percentage of indigent milling about Shasta county- and of those many are not just sitting around downtown.

      The only thing I do agree with you is the lack of education. That has to do with adding more classes to the Shasta College curriculum, trying to expand Shasta College into a four year and increasing the Chico State classes offered. With your comment of "We have more services, shelter beds, Etc. than any other city in California" I wonder about your own education level. Redding absolutely DOES NOT have the highest amount of shelter beds, services, etc. All you have to do is minimal research to know this.

  2. Perhaps, for the homeless, it should be exactly like it is for the rest of us........there's no free lunch. Instead of just giving them places to stay, food, etc., there should be a requirement that some service is performed in exchange (like Sam's, "Ill buy you lunch if you'll sweep my sidewalk."). It's a given that many people will not work to acquire things they can get for free. The kind of system, however, that exacts a price or participation from both sides requires mutual respect - good luck with that.

    • Exactly right. Many of the homeless are just lazy criminals with drug and alcohol problems. However, many are mentally or physically debilitated and unable to handle private industry jobs. The role of government should be to provide work they can do, even if it is not "regular" employment. Long-term welfare is expensive for the taxpayers and debilitating for the recipients.

    • During the depression, men (and women) were given a chit redeemable for a bowl of soup or a bed, after doing a task. there were assorted lists of tasks, like sweeping up main street, picking up/emptying trash, painting a wall, half a day of labor, etc. I think the Conservation Corps began that way too, and built the infrastructure in many of the national parks. but the cities and states had to subsidize that, had to provide the food and beds. I'm not sure this city would do it. it's a great solution though. graffiti eradication, trash pick up, brush trimming/fire control. I think a lot of the idlers are not interested in being productive. why should they when they can get so much from the state for doing nothing?

  3. Excellent article Doni!

    As a frequent shopper at the Carousel, both the old location and the new location, I can say with all honesty that you hit the nail on the head with your descriptions. I am a seasoned traveler and have been to many, many third world countries. I find myself in a high alert travel safety mode just to walk into Carousel to shop or visit Sam.

    I applaud Sam Allen for her courage to operate a shop downtown. She is a very warm, compassionate woman who truly cares for people and wants to see no man or woman suffer in poverty. I find it completely and utterly frustrating that Francie Sullivan and Rick Bosetti had such disregard for a downtown business that they couldn't even answer a letter from a concerned shop owner/citizen? Seriously??

    Downtown needs to be cleaned up. Letting people lay around in feces, doing drug deals and harassing people is not showing compassion for the homeless. Doing something proactive, such as giving them a place to congregate, take showers, eat a meal is compassion. The problem is, how are we ever going to get where we need to be if the city council won't even answer a simple letter from a member of our community who has valid ideas to share?

  4. I have sent numerous emails to all of the city council members on many occasions in regards to several issues. Have never received any response. They need to be accountable to the voters or be replaced. This complex issue must have some viable solution. Our restaurant has been feeding folks every Monday on a Pay as You Can basis. If other businesses would step up and contribute on some level we may find that those numbers of needy will diminish and the ones left can be dealt with by the agencies that serve too many now.

  5. "There are signs around the country and world telling folks to come here."

    It is difficult to avoid sarcasm when confronted with such ignorance! Are the signs posted around the world inviting people to Redding printed in English or in the native language? And when the homeless of the world collect enough empty soda cans to buy their plane ticket to America, what do they tell the customs agent is their purpose for their visit, "To go to Redding, sleep in the park, and get a free bed at the Mission."?

  6. The hyperbole of the first comment aside, this is a great article Doni, and a subject which needs to be discussed in order to find some kind of a solution. If our elected officials won't open a dialogue, it's going to fall on the community to find some answers.

    I strongly suspect HDH is here specifically to get people distracted with her outrageous claims, so we won't hold the city council accountable for their inactions. How do we know she/he isn't actually ON the city council, or a close relative of one of them?

    Personally, the refusal of the city council and the DA to even discuss the problem disturbs me greatly and the voters deserve to know why.

  7. Yesterday, I saw my first public intoxication-in-progress with a drug paraphernalia pipe. The man was parked in a car beside the track at Sequoia Middle School. Lots of drug deals go down out there in the darkness of the tennis court parking, after 11 PM most weekends. I know because I walk my dog past. Police need to ditch the squad cars, if they want to stop crime in Redding. It happens on foot. If you get out of your car and walk, you see everything.

  8. Oh I did that thing, responding to the issue, rather than the article. Glad you brought up this issue on the site! The article is great, particularly the photos.

  9. I've traveled a lot in CA and it amazes me that a city the size of Redding is so far behind the curve in terms of regaining its urban core. We are light years behind cities half our size. Time for some new blood on our City Council, people. Our current representatives are out of touch with reality!

  10. Interesting article and comments. I do not reside in Redding, but would like to make a suggestion for those concerned about what appears to be a hugh problem for your community. Many have said they sent emails to their city council with no response. You do realize that in all likelyhood most are not even read except for the first few lines...same o stuff, over and over. Perhaps your best solution would be to fill the chambers up at the next meeting with 2-3 speakers during Open Forum and a few others to DITTO their comments, which saves time. Nothing gets the councils attention like a house full of residents wanting some action on a problem. Of course the council does not have to respond to you at this time if they so choose, but believe me, they will have heard you and most likely one will feel a response is due. JMO

  11. I work a few blocks away from the Lorenz, and many days we arrive at work to find evidence that someone spent the night on our office porch. Unfortunately, that evidence often comes in the form of human feces. One of our employees takes it upon herself to "suit up" with rubber gloves, etc., to clean it up, but this is a disgusting job. I don't have the answers to fix the homeless/transient problem. But I wish, for everyone's sake, that we'd have some resources to assist with safety, cleanup, loitering...

  12. "likelihood"... :-) Too much caffeine!

  13. Really...The woman had the CAROUSEL business in an old hotel that houses folks with mental issues, next store to Northern Valley Catholic Social Services Second Chance homeless day center for folks with mental issues, across the street from one of Redding's largest on site drug and alcohol treatment centers in Redding with a gay bar and POP on the other side of it all WHAT DID YOU EXPECT ?

    ...And seeing all this you decide a building at the Lorentz Hotel is the best refuge ??

    • What does the gay bar have to do with it?

    • You definately need to get your facts straight. Second Home is not a homeless day center. If you ever spent any time with the folks who live in that old hotel, you would see they are no different than any one else and deserve to be a part of society along with a place to live independently. How dare you imply that people who suffer from a mental illness or people who frequent a gay bar are the same people who are dealing drugs, drinking and fighting in public and deficating on the side walks. POP is doing what they can to help people in need. You could support them so they can help more. I think everyone has a right to expect to be able to run their business without having to deal with situations that law enforcement should be dealing with. Clearly there is a problem for both people who work in the down town area as well as people who are homeless. There are plenty of groups, citizens, organizations, churches, etc...that are willing to be a part of the solution, however the problem lies when our council men and women arent interested in understanding the root of the problem nor working towards a solution.

  14. After 42 years in Redding I am ready to leave. I'm too old and tired to try to change things, actually pretty sure they can't be changed in my lifetime.

    My children have grown and left because there is nothing here for them.

    If the average citizen urinated on the street corner, we would surely be arrested and prosecuted, probably have to register as a sex offender.

    My street is falling apart and nothing can be done about that either.

    The excuse the city always comes up with is no money. They say that about the police, the public works, fire protection. Well, not too long ago the city had plenty of money and the economy was booming. Did they fix things and save? They rewarded themselves. Sorry to seem so negative, but does anyone REALLY see any change coming???????

  15. Another good article, Doni, describing the frustrating situation residents, business owners and patrons find themselves in. My heart goes out to Ms Allen and the folks who live and work in the downtown area. Many cities had/has the same issue. A place similar to what Ms. Allen suggests have been created with shade, water and bathrooms available in some. It seems to have made a difference.

    Instead of reinventing the wheel, how about a task force to study other cities like San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Santa Cruz and San Diego that have had some success in trying to solve this issue. It's not going away, especially with the prisons dumping more criminals onto our streets without a plan to manage them.

    If the elected officials won't help ( remember that when voting) , how about the task force of law enforcement, social workers, mental health professionals, drug counselors, business owners and residents etc. getting together to explore options already proven to work in other areas.

    We don't have a police force with the manpower able to arrest and/or ticket people who are sitting or lying on the sidewalk. Even if we did, they have no ability to pay. Is the plan then to jail them? That is not a solution. We're already having people released early due to an already overcrowded jail system. It's time for real solutions, not empty threats and promises.

  16. Good to keep the homeless issue out and open; something needs to be done; things are certainly a mess. The city needs to try something, anything; if it doesn't quite work, then adapt and modify; though, ticketing the homeless seems absurd, but it is at least something. The city needs to deal with the problem since the homeless do not seem to be going away, probably the opposite; but I think that it is due to the economic times rather than Redding being a homeless destination; just too hot in the summers. Perhaps refurbishing one of the vacant stores into a homeless refuge with adequate facilities would work, or perhaps refurbishing a number of vacant stores spread throughout the Northstate would work. The money could be city money, maybe hotel taxes, and state and federal funds; I am sure the funding is out there, it just needs to be redirected to more effective, helpful programs.

  17. Don't you just love the this good old USA? You can choose to waste your life and get paid to do so. This whole system needs an overhaul. The system needs these types of people so others

    can profit. The broken system has a financial incentive in pimping the poor, social service, medical, schools, prison, farmers, all the way down to mom & pop slumlords.

    "To many willing to milk the Cow but few will to feed it."

  18. Thanks Doni for the article, and Sam for bringing this to everyone's attention. I know it is a complicated problem, but that shouldn't be the reason to ignore it. I wish I knew more about where the City officials stand on all of the homeless issues; it seems to appear in the media on occasion and then mysteriously disappear. Is there ongoing discussion about solutions, a committee of some sort who keeps the issue "on the table"? It is so disappointing to hear that Sam's efforts to have a discussion were ignored. She has given a great deal to the downtown community for many years and has treated the homeless and less fortunate with more compassion than most. At the very least she deserves some type of response from elected officials. shame on them.....and whomever handles their email, etc. Aren't these the same people who want a viable, dynamic downtown? Is it possible they don't know that isn't going to happen until these problems are solved?

  19. I was raised here - and downtown Redding is nothing like it was even a few years ago. I work at Thomas Ward OD's office, and it was broken into on May 16th. A front window broken by a rock as well as a beautiful stained glass front door smashed. We lost our complete inventory of sunglasses and other designer ophthalmic frames, as well as a computer and cash drawer. Barely cleaning up the damage from that we again had a stained glass window broken out last week. The office is on Eureka Way. It can turn into another world here at night - the evidence is found around the building frequently. Being a long time Redding resident I am upset with the changes in town and I am searching for solutions. It seems the Redding Police force is overloaded. The vandalism is happening on a nightly basis. How many are being caught? How can we assist in the cleanup and make this town a safer place again? Should we start a site to report nightly occurrences so residences are more aware? Is everyone really aware of what is happening? Any good resolutions or ideas?

  20. Until there's accountability (jail beds) for these crimes, the problem will only continue to escalate. Even if these folks are arrested for their misdeeds, they all know that they're not going to stay in jail more than an hour, and then when they fail to appear in court and start the process of racking up multiple failures to appear, they know that each time they get "cited" to appear in court, that nothing will happen if they don't. The system is broke - let's not fool ourselves. While there's not one particular thing that has caused the breakdown, the bottom line is that our justice system relies on accountability (adequate jail beds) to keep those who are convicted and are supposed to be incarcerated for their deeds.

    • A long time ago, I had the solution. Take every top tier position within the City of Redding and County of Shasta, and reduce their salary by 1/2. Divert that money back into Fire and Law Enforcement. Tell me a couple of million wouldn't put a few more Law Enforcement Officers on the street and Firefighters in the stations.

      Won't ever happen because the general thinking of the upper echelon in their ivory towers is that they can continue to enjoy their upper class lifestyle while the rest of us are taxed to death and all they have to do when they need more money is shutter a fire station or lay off police/sheriffs officers, and by george, they'll get their new tax!

      Well folks, the well has run dry. There is simply no more to be had. These fat cats may feel they earn their 200k+ a year annual salaries, but given all the problems we have had in just the past 5 years, the only thing that has happened is all those people became millionaires. It's time THE PEOPLE say Enough Is Enough!

      Oh, and as far as StJude AKA Chris Solberg: Bad choice picking Barbara as someone handouts do help, as she has been banned for trespassing due to her aggressive panhandling at several shopping centers, and the kicker is, she always says it's not for herself, but CATS! She is one of the people who could get help...IF THEY WANTED IT.

      You see, in all reality, there are a few homeless people who do legitimately need assistance, because of drug/mental health issues, or because they caught a bad break and their situation is a temporary one. The rest of them CHOOSE to live the way they do because they have no motivation or incentive to change, and they're being given everything they could want free of charge without having to work for it, so why should they bother?

      I see it every day, so don't bother replying to me with your biblical quotes or your other propaganda like you do because you don't want to address the cold hard reality. Everybody sees right through you. Why do you think your "successful protest" of the Handouts Don't Help group consisted of a army of 2 people and you were one of them!

      I don't need your cute and slated Youtube videos or your preaching to tell me what the reality of the homeless problem in Redding is. After 17 years of being out on the front lines, I know EXACTLY what that reality is.

  21. Both my husband and myself were born and raised in Redding. It is so sad to see so many people that are such a mess that they do not even have a home to go to at night. While I do have compassion for the down and out I also know that I am becoming afraid to walk around in the downtown area and would for sure not do it after dark.

    We have talked of selling our home and moving into the Garden Tract area for our retirement but the more we look the more we realize that is not going to work for us, because who wants to live in an area where you are afraid in your old age, that your home might be broken into or you might be mugged. I do not pretend to have any answers to all of these complex issues that Redding is facing. I am sure many other cities have the same issues, but when we go to visit our grown children in the Sacramento area I feel safer than in my own small town. I realize that the majority of homeless people are not violent but I do not want to encounter one that is, and how are you suppose to know? Great article Doni.

    • Thanks, Wilma. Well said. For what it's worth, I live in the Garden Tract, and while we do have our periodic issues with transients and break-ins, it's a very connected little community, and we watch out for one another.

  22. Redding's homeless problem is worse now than it was when I was a child growing up by a hundredfold . I appreciate Doni highlighting the problem in a way that illustrates the very real problem we have have here in Redding. I think this problem is genuine, large and chronic. It will take the officials who won't answer a simple email and the rest of us to be proactive, realistic and compassionate in order for this to change even a little bit. As a veteran teacher, I take every possibility to stress upon my students the great value of their education, but often , life gets complicated and things happen along the way and they end up in situations that render them homeless. I do believe that we need to remember that they are people from all walks do life that have either fallen upon hard times or just lost their way. I personally love how Ms. Allen handled things before she moved...but the officials MUST help with this problem

  23. Thanks for the article, Doni; it is a real eye opener. The Council has been so busy promoting downtown that they have no "room" for trying to do something to clean up this disgusting problem. Or, maybe it's because, they don't know what to do. I know one thing, the "powers that be" don't want this advertised at all -- just shove it under the rug. unfortunately these sorts of things are happening, probably in all cities. I am also disgusted with the people in Oakland who deface properties and commit mayhem. This is no way to solve problems!

  24. There seems to be a fallacy in our understanding of the situation presented in the article. What is being described here is the unfortunate impact presented us by a bunch of bottom feeder drug addicts. The story is not really about "the homeless" any more than 9/11 is a story about "the Muslims". The group of people featured in this article are but one small portion of our homeless population.

    • It was difficult for me to describe the people who loiter outside Sam's shop ... Who's to know if they are homeless. And certainly, there are obvious drug and alcohol issues and mental health problems. Homeless, transients, street people. Those are terms. What I think we are all looking for are solutions. With all my heart I wish that our elected leaders would, you know, take the lead. Yes, these people who make Redding's sidewalks their livingrooms, bedrooms and bathrooms clearly need help, and many are suffering, but what about the businesses, and citizens, who have done like Sam Allen and have invested everything to be part of this city? Where's their help and support? They are suffering, too. One FB person took exception to the photos I posted, and suggested I consider interviewing some homeless for more of their stories. I've done that. I'm sick of just writing about the sad stories and horrible situations. I'm ready to write about change and improvements and solutions. OK, I will step off my soap box now.

      • "so many homeless and transients." -- Your words.

        "Homeless problem." -- Allen's words

        "Homeless on the streets in Redding" -- Allen again.

        I think, Doni that you actually wrote a story about street level drug use, but turned it into a focus on the homeless, the vast majority of whom do not engage in this sort of flagrant anti-social behavior.

        It would be my view that we need to be clear whom we are talking about. If we see drug use and label it "homeless" behavior the prejudicial process we set into motion is no different than seeing the destruction of 9/11 and labeling it "Muslim behavior". -- Each of these stereotypes leads to hatred and violence against a minority.

        Your article could have been a fine, constructive piece calling attention to a serious urban problem. However, by merging it with homeless issues you weakened your argument and may well increase community prejudice against the homeless, which I know you do not intend to do.

  25. Well, it turns out our City Council is a bunch of cowards.

    They declined to take up the sitting issue.

    Tragic!

  26. I would have to disagree that the "bottom feeder drug addicts" featured are a small portion of any homeless population. Studies have shown that a hugh percent of all homeless people have a drug or alcohol dependency problem, while perhaps a smaller percent have a mental health diagnosis.

    The problem of homelessness is part of your community, whether you choose to see it

    or not. Regardless of who is homeless and why, it is your responsibility as members of your community to come together for a solution. So you go Ms. Doni and write about change and improvements and solutions and just maybe......that city council will hear you and step up to the plate with some solutions or ideas to toss around at a public hearing for the community to voice their concerns. Sometimes you have to step up on that soap box to be heard.............jusy sayin'

    • Norma,

      Your information is wrong. Highly visible hard-core street people have been eclipsed in number by homeless families. Children now comprise 39 percent of the country's homeless population, and families with children (typically women and children) have been the fastest-growing segment of that population for years. In regard to homelessness, what you happen to see is far from being all there is:

      http://www.nationalhomeless.org

      Drug and alcohol addiction are contributing factors to homelessness mainly in single men. For other groups it is largely economic, so let's avoid making sweeping generalizations without all the facts.

    • Norma -

      Hardcore drug and street people comprise the majority of Redding homeless. Families and children likely account for less than 5% of the homeless population here in Redding. Probably even less.

      Sure, a small, tiny part of family homelessness can be blamed on the "economy," but the vast majority of all homelessness is people failing to curb their enthusiasm for drugs and alcohol or other factors such as poor choices.

      Your post is right on!

  27. Time for a change at city council. Brent Weaver is going to run next term. He is involved in turning around downtown and has invested his money in various projects. Time to throw out the bums.

  28. Reporter Jon Lewis is writing a story about tonight's city council meeting for tomorrow's lead, but regarding the issue of Missy's proposal, it was pretty much a non-event that ended after a few public speakers and some discussion between council members.

    Missy decided to just "let it go". And that was the end of that.

    Now, regarding the rest of the meeting. I feel rotten for not having attended a Redding City Council meeting for some time, but OMG ... what a show. I don't know how city staffers keep a straight face throughout the night. There were a few times when I felt I was running around screaming inside my head, looking for an exit.

    If you voted for someone on the current council, I highly suggest you attend periodically just to see your candidates in action. You may be in for a surprise. It's an eye-opener.

    Good night everyone. Sleep well. Thanks for the great conversations on this important topic. Watch for Jon Lewis' report in the morning.

  29. I am saddened to read this article. I don't doubt this kind of thing goes on. I have worked in the mental health profession & I can understand loss of empathy when something like these stories occur over & over. I agree about finding a middle ground. The location mentioned on North Market is a good location for those that are homeless and need a place to sleep.....and I wholeheartedly agree that some rules would need to be in place for the inhabitants. Would love to see this happen. Why not try putting this complaint to the city council during a council meeting?

  30. I love to read all the posts from the bleeding hearts. When will you learn that the more you give them in welfare and places to go the longer they will stay the way they are.

    I have had two family members who became alcoholics and drug addicts. They had all the chances in the world and wouldn't listen to anyone. They thought they knew it all and could continue to get away with popping pills and drinking night and day in college. Now they are in their 30's with no degree, no job, walk the streets all day and beg family members for money when their food stamps and welfare check run dry. Not that they would spend the money of food...more like they hit the street and buy a few oxy and a 40.

    Yes there are some that need help and we should focus on those people with children, but many use the system to get funds and aid and tell everyone they need mental health to make it more likely that they will get money. What most of them need is to be sent to a corrections center that specializes in drug rehab with no outside contact for a few years. Put them to work digging ditches, pulling weeds, stacking rocks, splitting wood and other menial tasks when they are not taking mandatory classes on drug rehab, anger management, child care and GED. If they refuse or fail then they get sent to the big house.

    It would also help is Shasta County and every bleeding heart didn't offer so much welfare in this county. Most of the homeless and drug population are from other parts of the state. Shasta County and the Mission on Market keep them here by offering the services that they do.

  31. You really want to fix this problem?

    Create a website with the name and photos and business contact info of our public officials. Police Chief, Fire Chief, Supervisors, City Managers, Mental Health Supervisors, Market Street Mission Leadership and then go around town and take photos and video of all the trashy drug users, homeless crapping and peeing on the streets...etc.

    Then take the photos and post online where you saw the event take place with a nice shot of the homeless person, the date and the business that was near that location. When the businesses begin to take a hit and the tax revenues start to tumble things will get done.

    Things will change when money is involved.

    You could also post arrest information and mug shot in conjunction with the business name or the supervisor of a particular district.

  32. For those with both a compassionate heart and a discerning mind, the issue is as it has always been: There are those who would if they could, and those who could but won't. The former deserve our collective empathy and assistance, while the latter do not. The determination of which persons belong to each group is problematic, but not impossible.

  33. Here is a nice one for you back!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGFA4gshTJQ

    Whenever they wave stars and stripes above you

    Doesn't it make you proud that you are free

    Whatever has happened to our love of country

    Let's make America what it used to be

    So let's go do it, Chris!

    Let's go tackle poverty and hate together!

  34. If you are in your 60s, 50s or even 40s, you will come to the place eventually where you realize our way of life is effectively over. Detroit says it all. Enjoy what you can now and find peace in that...... Our generation's children most likely waited to have children until they could afford it. For some, that time never came and they adopted 4 legged pets instead- that's responsibility in a failing economy. The state sent children back to abusive drug- using parents, creating huge numbers of damaged people incapable of living rational lives. Other generational welfare people had and continue to have many children perpetuating the system. Our jobs were sent overseas by an "I feel your pain" Democrat in the '90s. Bell CA city management paid themselves half million dollar salaries and got away with it for years. The last Republican's unnecessary and fraudulent Iraq war cost 2 Trillion dollars ( killed 10,000 Americans and 1 million Iraqis in the process)- the middle class is in its death throes and you must have a thriving middle class to have any type of "civilization" at all. These truths are hard but denial is worse. A good question to ask is "why was America's middle class not allowed to flourish?" Be brave as you ponder the answer, its helps if you believe in God or a higher power. That gets me through my days.

  35. Walking my dog in the neighborhood in which I own a home west of Redding's downtown for the last decade or so, I've noticed many drug deals, Doni, at all hours of the day. On foot, one really sees the wild and craziness of this city. The corner of Magnolia/Butte is notorious for night deals. In fact, I've found $100 bills scrunched in the gutter, possibly dropped by a druggie. The creeks and gullies are home to many, including the gulch to the east of Pilgrim Congregational Church's parking lot. The old quarry site at the end of Butte St. and Walnut is filled with dozens at times. I know many of these denizens by name, have heard their stories of woe and inability or unwillingness to cope. Yes, I hand out drinking water, fresh vegetables and fruit, and phone cards to call their families or friends.

    Each neighbor's vehicle for a three-block radius has been broken into at least once. Vehicles have been stolen. My vehicle has been vandalized, broken into numerous times. My back door's lock picked, medicine cabinet door ajar. Transients sitting on my patio chairs with cell phones and yes, laptops, plugged into my exterior electrical receptacle. As neighbors, we look out for each other, but thefts and vandalism continue weekly. Empty houses for sale have been used temporarily by druggies and trashed, broken glass, etc.

    Neighbors repeatedly phone RPD. Redding Police Department no longer sends an officer out to take a report and look at the crime scene. Visitors from out of town look at me unbelievingly when I tell them to empty their vehicles of all valuables. To them, the neighborhood does not look that crime-ridden compared to Bay Area or Sacramento.

    It's time to take a good hard look at group homes for offenders, too. Several are in this area. These people have ties with the criminal population.When the "adult parolee babysitting center" opened on Court Street, the thieves became more numerous in my neighborhood. Solution? Go after the thieves. They broke the law, caused losses for others, and need to bear the consequences. To ignore them, and allow the behavior to continue will only cause an escalation of worse crimes.

    Am I moving yet? Nope. There are many places around the country and world worse than Redding, including Third World countries I've visited. So my dog and I continue to stroll.....observe.......and talk to my neighbors, friends and family. Let's all vote in a City Council willing to tackle the above issues.

  36. The trouble with having the majority of America's wealth in the hands of a tiny ruling plutocracy — a situation that has developed during the 30+ years of the Reagan Revolution — is that in order to achieve that state of affairs, you have to bleed the middle class whiter than ghosts.

    And that's what this nation's middle class is becoming — a class of ghosts. Income disparity is ruining the country, even as dumber-than-dog**** middle- and working-class Republicans cheer it on as everyone getting exactly what they deserve.

    What we have here in Redding — a microcosm of the New American Way — is a middle class shrinking in size, wealth, and hope. A harried middle class increasingly hassled at street level by an illiterate, drug-addled, beyond-hope class of petty criminals and lifestyle parasites who have already gone over the cliff; and lorded over by a wealthy and privileged class of inside-deal-makers whose interests are carefully tended by their GOP puppet politicians.

    I've been here for about 25 years, and after spending a decade growing increasingly hopeful about Redding's prospects, I've decided the town has reversed course on nearly all fronts and will continue going backwards into the foreseeable future. The politics of the locals are to deeply entrenched — a people who elect representatives based on the belief that government's duty to do next to nothing. I'm making plans to bolt, and I'm taking my white-collar business with me. I don't want to breathe my last breath in this place.

  37. This is a huge problem for Redding's downtown. I do not have any good idea on how to address it or solve it, but I do have a suggestion.

    Redding is not the first community to have a homeless/transient problem. Why don't we just do a little research and find towns that have solved this problem? We do not need to invent a wheel if there is already one that could work for us. The last time I visited my hometown of Claremont, California, I saw nothing of the sort described in this article. We might be well served if some of our elected leaders sought out a few of these places and sat down with their counterparts. Not a "junket" mind you, but a serious mission to learn what really works.

  38. People have asked for a solution. Here's a possible answer, IMHO: http://anewscafe.com/2013/07/31/living-hope-compa...

  39. Can't begin to count the names of the folks above that just throw rocks at the writer. 90% offer ZERO input in to the problem. Just bitch, bitch, bitch. I'd love to see some insight (even if I don't agree with it), as to how to "help" the situation. I could sit here at this restaurant and type all day long on my tablet complaining about the "tone" of someone's blog. What I'd rather do is examine ideas as to a possible solution. I don't have one. But I'm damned sick of the crap I see outside the Black Bear (where I'm typing at this moment) sleeping in the heart of Redding, at the busiest intersection in town. Trash all over. And, before I go, some of you suggest that there is no "lure" to Redding for homeless. Can't say for sure, but I tend to disagree. Go to Sweetie's Cafe on S. Market (across from the mission), watch someone come in and ask for a free coffee or?? If they get it, watch what happens....word spreads like wildfire. "Hey, free stuff at the cafe". The line begins.

    Just my two cents (and y'all know what that's worth). Hope to read possible solutions below this space.

  40. See? It just continues! We're not gonna correct anyone's manners on this blog. I'd like to see "solutions". Please?

  41. I am a younger person, i suppose. I was born in RDG and raised here as well and i moved as soon as i possibly could because i did not see Redding as a progressive town, a town that in my 28 years never have i witnessed a city council that got it right. I agree that the cost of the 'amazing chairs' ($400-$700) and desks imported from somewhere like Europe made with some expensive wood, who even knows how much those were! So back to the cost of these luxuries "presented" to the the people in charge of making all the "important decisions" on behalf of US the community, the people.. IKEA would have provided much better style at a much lower cost. $200K is undoubtedly far too much to be paying officials who seem to be using that money to build their mile high staircases and alligator motes to keep the same community they're supposed to be lobbying for as far away as possible!

    I digress. I want to propose an organized gathering of sorts at one of these city meetings (i have recently moved back to be close to family for the time being) we can meet beforehand to organize our facts to be presented and decide which topics to address first assuming we might not get much of a chance to even scratch the surface, not to mention i confidently bet that i would appear to most of the individuals sharing on this topic to know very little to nothing about the subject but that would be an ugly judgment and not smart seeing as how i am willing to not only step up my research game but put in "field work" gathering statements and raw, real and gritty video from the "dwellers of downtown" seeing as how many of them are within 3 years or so of my fellow graduates and some from the same high school! In fact not much sets me apart from most of "those people" other than a little education, some great friends And family and a lot of fight.

    Now Im serious, although i am new to all of this i am highly self-educated on matters of injustice, discrimination and "we the people" issues. I am very open minded but sure-footed when it comes to right and wrong and what is reasonable vs. Ludicrous. I will leave my email and hopefully some of you will stand up with me on this and put your heart where your mouth is!

  42. First off I want to thank Sam and Doni for tackling this issue. I was born and raised here in the Redding area, and I am 57..... so I have a lot of years of experience to speak of. The homeless situation here in Redding is way out of control. When you cannot even go into South City Park without being afraid of what might happen to you. Let alone go to the multimillion dollar Library, and have to wade through the homeless hovering around the front doors. We as the citizens of this city need to demand that our police force do something about this. We need to not make it so comfortable and inviting to want to come and stay in Redding. My wife and I have had first hand experience of being harassed by these people while shopping at our local Safeway, which our son works at. His stories make what little hair I have left on my head stand straight up.... It is a sad state of affairs when the local Police won't even respond to calls from Safeway because they say they have too many calls.... really ???? Is that not the job of the Police Department to respond to ALL calls?? Anyway I rant on, my point being that this issue MUST be addressed, and we need the citizens need to put pressure on our local authorities to address it. No local business should have to clean up fecal matter on a daily basis, or have to watch drug deals happen in front of their shop, and all citizens need to feel safe in walking around their city no matter what time of day it is. And as for putting a bathroom in Library Park... why?? so they can destroy it, do drug deals in it, and use it for God knows what? No I say we need to make it uncomfortable for these homeless and drug addicted people to want to be in the down town area. Take back our beautiful city........before it is too late and the homeless and druggies win....... For those of you who are offended by it, wake up and see the real picture..... and it is not pretty..... vote people in who will make the difficult and hard decisions, and stand up and do something not just occupy a seat on the Counsel...... for far too long too many of the elected officials have turned a blind eye to this issue..... show them we want change, vote them out, get new blood in there. Again I applaud Sam and Doni for bringing this issue to the forefront..... Keep up the good works ladies!

  43. If you do a search on Anewscafe, you'll see the extensive story Doni did on the homeless, and these included interviews. BTW What makes you think that addressing Doni as "Darling" is appropriate!

  44. Darling - I address everyone as "darling" - it's MUCH better than some other titles.

    Not a Southern bell here, but would have LOVED to have grown up in the old South!

  45. Nice try Paula Deen.

  46. If you expect anyone to take you seriously, address them professionally... unless you're just trying to stir the pot.

Leave a Response


4,002 views

Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Recent Comments - from all stories on A News Cafe

Please support local journalism on A News Cafe. Thank you!


© A News Cafe.com, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

Page optimized by WP Minify WordPress Plugin