Property Crimes, Drug Use and Homeless Camps top the Safe City Project’s List of Issues

Shuttering the Redding Library, cutting back on non-essential services and eliminating some city positions are three ways to fund the wide-ranging package of solutions to Redding’s crime problems that were unveiled Thursday during a well-attended presentation by the volunteer Safe City Project.

“Whatever it takes” to make the city safe, said April LaFrance, a Redding business owner who spearheaded the 3-month-long project. Coming up with the money will be tough, she conceded, but failing to act would be akin to trying to secure a home missing its front door.

Perry, a Sugar Pine Camp inmate firefighter, April LaFrance and Cory McCandliss. Photo by Jon Lewis.

An audience estimated at 1,000 partially filled the Civic Auditorium to listen to LaFrance and members of the project, including a “shark tank” of advisors, identify 11 areas of concern and present the corresponding solutions that were developed during some 1,077 hours of volunteered time.

“Most of us have gathered out of frustration with crime,” LaFrance said, “and we’re here because we believe Redding is valuable.” The Safe City Project, which did not involve any city employees, was endorsed by the City Council in August. “We have nothing to gain, other than a better city,” she said.

Project members toured the Shasta County Jail, went on ride-alongs with Redding police officers, visited homeless encampments, talked to community leaders and researched crime-prevention programs in other cities.

They identified four focus areas: lack of jail space; residential and commercial property crimes; homeless encampments; and drug and alcohol addiction connected to crime.

Different project members then presented 11 specific problems and matched them with proposed solutions. They were, in order:

1. Establish a reserve police force of retired officers with the qualification and training to back up Redding’s understaffed corps of officers. The reserve force would allow Redding police to stay on the street where they can take a more proactive approach to crime prevention, according to present Chad Russell.

2. Create neighborhood groups similar to Jason Schroeder’s Stand Up Redding. “We’re not a small town, but we can feel that way again,” Schroeder said to a round of applause. “We need to make sure our neighborhoods are safe.

3. Beef up Redding’s code enforcement program and use a sliding scale of fines to force owners of rundown hotels and vacant homes to bring their properties up to code.

4. Establish a “sobering center” as an alternative to jail for publicly intoxicated people. A social services organization would open the center with $250,000 in seed money from the city, according to a presenter who identified himself as Christian.

Such a center would free up jail beds, steer inebriants toward rehabilitation, allow police to spend more time on the streets “and take back the spaces we love,” Christian said.

5. Establish a community court to hear petty crime cases. This court would emphasize community service and work release programs to match illegal actions with consequences. “We need something to convince them to stop (committing crimes) or leave,” presenter Patrick McNally said.

6. Renovate the Shasta County Jail annex on Breslauer Lane to make room for 65 to 80 inmates awaiting trial. Renovations would cost $1.3 million and the annex would cost $2 million a year to staff, according to a presenter identified only as Joe.

7. Establish a work camp for Shasta County inmates, similar to the California Department of Corrections’ Sugar Pine Camp that houses Cal Fire inmate crews. In one of the night’s highlights, Perry, a Sugar Pine inmate, told how working at the camp gave him a sense of self-worth and the motivation to complete a college degree.

Cory McCandliss, general manager of the Civic Auditorium, said a community member has offered to donate 40 acres of land for the work camp. “All we need is the funding,” he said, noting a camp would be half the cost of a conventional prison.

8. Expand the drug and alcohol rehab and mental health counseling services offered by Visions of the Cross, Northern Valley Catholic Social Service, the Good News Rescue Mission and other organizations.

9. Make it easier to report illegal homeless encampments and help persuade absent property owners to clear their land of camps that degrade Redding’s natural resources and threaten its growing tourism business.

10. Support the Homeward Bound program that provides eligible runaways and other transients with one-way bus tickets and meal vouchers so they can reunite with family members. The Good News Rescue Mission has agreed to operate the program.

11. Create a coalition of faith-based organizations to provide more cohesive and coordinated services to Redding’s neediest residents. “Let’s harness the strength of the faith-based community,” said Nate Edwardson, the lead pastor at The Stirring in Redding.

Incoming Councilwoman Kristen Schreder said she was impressed with the time and effort expended by members of the Safe City Project. “The key is identifying the problem and what the solution is. It really helps to find a way that’s focused on solutions.”

LaFrance said there was sure to be a considerable amount of discussion of the project’s recommendations in the following weeks and she encouraged people to engage with the project by visiting www.SafeCityProject.org.

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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9 Responses

  1. A Brady says:

    Well, at least the meeting last night was not held in the Community Room of the Redding Library like so many local non-profits utilize for important community gatherings.

    Calling for dropping city support of the Library when so much was blasted about needing the Sheraton Hotel to help fund Turtle Bay which is critical to show local education support of our children, is just a bit of ironic hypocrisy.

  2. david kerr says:

    City State Population Total violent crime Violent crime per 100,000 populationDescending
    Industry California 223 51 22,870
    Vernon California 115 22 19,130
    Orange Cove California 9,750 212 2,174
    Oakland California 403,887 7,984 1,977
    Dos Palos California 5,071 89 1,755
    Irwindale California 1,440 20 1,389
    Crescent City California 7,333 94 1,282
    Compton California 97,907 1,242 1,269
    Emeryville California 10,415 132 1,267
    Stockton California 299,796 3,622 1,208
    East Palo Alto California 29,086 347 1,193
    Isleton California 817 9 1,102
    Gridley California 6,563 72 1,097
    Big Bear Lake California 5,144 56 1,089
    Alturas California 2,681 28 1,044
    Huron California 6,812 71 1,042
    Richmond California 107,341 1,112 1,036
    Red Bluff California 14,170 146 1,030
    Desert Hot Springs California 27,936 277 992
    Barstow California 23,144 229 989
    Biggs California 1,711 16 935
    Dinuba California 23,440 214 913
    San Bernardino California 214,322 1,949 909
    Madera California 62,973 568 902
    Grass Valley California 12,792 115 899
    Antioch California 106,447 946 889
    Weed California 2,927 26 888
    Sand City California 344 3 872
    Firebaugh California 8,062 70 868
    Vallejo California 118,336 1,019 861
    Nevada City California 3,039 26 856
    San Francisco California 833,863 7,064 847
    Clearlake California 14,951 125 836
    Modesto California 204,252 1,704 834
    Coalinga California 16,398 131 799
    Selma California 23,935 191 798
    Arvin California 20,390 153 750
    Fort Bragg California 7,245 53 732
    Ukiah California 15,874 116 731
    Bishop California 3,861 28 725
    Marysville California 12,168 87 715
    Eureka California 26,881 192 714
    Tulare California 61,424 430 700
    Gustine California 5,655 39 690
    Merced California 81,329 556 684
    Taft California 8,839 60 679
    Hawthorne California 86,132 580 673
    San Pablo California 29,893 200 669
    Inglewood California 111,672 739 662
    Sacramento California 478,182 3,137 656

    Page of 10 Next Last

    Records 1-50 of 462
    Created with Caspio
    Source: The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports 2013

  3. david kerr says:

    http://www.freep.com/story/opinion/contributors/raw-data/2014/11/10/fbi-crime-rates-us-2013/18816191/

    The link is to the FBI violent crime database.
    Redding is in 53rd place for the most violent crime rate in CA. Eureka is in 42nd place. Marysville 41st place. Chico is in 217th place. Oroville in 93rd.

  4. Sally says:

    Searching for real solutions is a major task and kudos to those trying so hard with the betterment of our community the goal but…our Redding Library is a highlight of our town, serving thousands of individuals of all ages and interests! I remember working hard for New Library Now and actually shedding tears the day 2600 residents passed books from the previous facility to our beautiful new building!

    • Richard says:

      Sally, good for you. I was very impressed with the 11 presentations at last night’s meeting at the Civic, but as an ardent supporter of libraries, was aghast that Ms. LaFrance actually suggested the possible closure of the Redding Library. Bad for our populace, bad for business, and ultimately bad for Redding’s tax base.

  5. david kerr says:

    The paradox: crime is down statewide, but up in Shasta County. Some good graphs in this article http://www.publicceo.com/2014/11/crime-rates-down-but-not-everywhere/

    Ten years ago, Shasta County was a low crime community. Many thought that baby boomer retirees would be moving here to enjoy the lakes, mountains and trails. Maybe not Coronado, Palm Springs or Lake Tahoe, but it seems the competition is much more attractive to retirees.

  6. Ron says:

    Shuttering the Library? Really!? Why not the sundial bridge too so we don’t have to pay for maintenance, the city parks to also eliminate those maintenance cost, in fact how about all those places where families go so we have no place left. That way the crooks win and we can fund all the crimes.

    A Lot of great ideas were presented but obviously closing the library isn’t one of them. I did not see LaFrance or the rest say anything about the businesses pay a extra tax to help out tho.

    I say kick the criminals in the B***s and make them clean up the mess they cause. Why do have to pay for it?

    If they don’t have money, get their asses out there and work it off.

  7. This evening, I stopped at Der Wienerschnitzel for a ice cream. By chance Grandson James and wife Sydney were there having chili dogs. James gave me a chili dog that he couldn’t eat and we left, saying our good bye’s in the parking lot. As I was getting in my car I noticed an elderly woman who I recognized seeing a number of times before at the same place. I walked over to her and offered her the chili dog, which she gratefully accepted. As I mentioned, I’ve seen the same lady at this location many times before and unlike most of the “homeless”, she has never asked for a “handout”. I struck up a conversation with her about her situation, and she said how cold it was this evening. She went on to explain that her husband of 32 years passed away at Shasta Medical Center a couple of years ago after a lengthy illness and she became one of the homeless ones. I wished her a “good evening” and got in my car and drove away.
    On my way home I was overcome with a since of hopelessness. All the way home I kept asking myself, “What can I do?” Here is this elderly woman on the street on a cold night with nowhere to go. The answer? I don’t know and it breaks my heart. Yeah, I know there are a certain number of folks out there who choose to be on the street, expressing their independence, when in fact, they are not independent. Some are suffering some degree of mental illness. Some are dependent on drugs or alcohol (in itself a drug). And maybe, the saddest of all there are families with children out there. I believe that these “homeless” have one thing in common, they are all…people.
    Really simple huh? I don’t have any answers. I wish I did. The best I can do tonight is say a prayer tonight for this lady and all the others that are out there tonight and tomorrow night and the next night and…

  8. Former Magnolia Neighborhood Resident says:

    The Redding Library is an incredible asset to the community. Please figure out some way to keep it funded. Read and think. The last thing this city needs is more ignorant and uneducated individuals. The Library is an essential city service worthy of tax dollar expenditures. As cost cutting measures, how about reducing waste, inefficiency, and the nonessential in all city departments instead?

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