2 Transient Encampment Parcels Down – Many More to Go

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At 31, Nick Bundy of Redding has already demonstrated that he’s not afraid of tackling formidable challenges.

As an 18-year-old he was a motocross racer who was badly injured in a crash on country star Loretta Lynn’s ranch. As a young man, he ran heavy equipment for his father’s logging business, and to this day he sometimes works as a timber-faller for his dad. Bundy has built roads, fences, decks and houses. He started and sold a food-and-beverage distribution business.

He bought a house and got married. He and his wife now have a baby girl, who Bundy cares for while his wife works her shifts as a registered nurse.

What’s more, Bundy’s just as comfortable driving heavy equipment for his land-clearing and excavation company as he is carrying his baby daughter in an infant seat to an interview with a reporter.

He laughed at the suggestion that some might describe him as a squeaky wheel on steroids, because he knows it’s true. His nature is to fix things and find solutions to problems, whether that requires repeated phone calls to the chief of police or requests for multiple meetings with the city manager.

This last year demonstrated classic Bundy at work, as he helped lead the charge to eradicate dozens of illegal transient camps located in the green belt areas below his Indian Hills subdivision; next-door property to Linden Canyon (sometimes mistakenly called Mercy Canyon for its proximity to Mercy Medical Center).

Both areas are notorious – at least among law enforcement – for containing some of the city’s most impressive transient encampments, a combined area that covers dozens of acres.

Bundy was ignorant of the illegal camps until the summer of 2013 when he and his wife bought their first home in the Indian Hills subdivision, located south of Placer Street and east of Buenaventura Boulevard. It wasn’t long before they noticed trouble in the ravines beyond the typically peaceful streets of their Indian Hills neighborhood.

For example, it wasn’t unusual for residents to hear gunshots, yelling, cussing and fighting from the ravine, mainly at night. The neighbors whose homes were nearest the ravine had it the worst. One older man said he’d called the police multiple times about what he was hearing, but nobody came, so he found his own way to cope with the noise.

“He dealt with it by turning his TV up louder,” Bundy said.

The Redding Fire Department was aware of the area, too. Bundy said that in June of 2013 the Redding Fire Department sent a letter to the owners of one of the largest chunks of green belt property, warning of the fire hazards the illegal camps posed, and said that the property-owner  had 10 days to get the land cleared and cleaned up, or face enforcement.

As months passed, Bundy and his neighbors noticed increased numbers of scruffy people coming and going — on foot, bike and even by Moped — down into the undeveloped land at all hours. Sometimes heated confrontations erupted between residents and transients when residents confronted transients and told them they had no right to be on the private land beyond the subdivision.

One neighbor cut a tree and dropped it across the widest opening to the trail, which resulted in an angry reaction from one of the campers who didn’t appreciate the barricade.

No matter. The transients created a detour.

Bundy recalls at least three times he heard gunfire in the ravine, without police responding to residents’ calls. He said Halloween night of 2013 was especially harrowing at the Indian Hills subdivision when the quiet night was pierced by the sound of an explosion from the green belt, quickly followed by a fire that ignited one end of the ravine. Fire crews came and put out the fire.

Not that residents weren’t already alarmed, but the Halloween fire drove home the point about the deadly risk of letting the situation in the ravine go unchecked any longer. The incident propelled Bundy and his neighbors into action. Soon after, he and about six guys from the neighborhood agreed to meet and walk down into the ravine together to size up the situation.

“When is enough, enough?”  Bundy said. “We said, ‘Let’s go look.’ ”

Bundy and the other men put on dirty clothes – hoping to fit in if they encountered those who lived in the brush below-  and traveled as nonchalantly as possible down the hill.

They immediately saw evidence of scattered clothes and litter. The further they walked, and the deeper they moved down into the brush, the more they saw.

They saw piles of clothes, buckets, tents, bikes, garbage, food containers, chairs, tables and lots of cardboard.

They saw a bottomless chair with a pile of feces beneath it. They saw ice chests, barbecues, storage bins, shelving units, gas cans, wagons and blankets.

They saw tents and tarps stretched into lean-tos and roofs. They saw solar panels. They even saw a hand-dug pond.

Deeper still into the brush, into the Linden Canyon encampments, there were items that looked like they might have originated from the nearby Mercy Medical Center.

Between the piles and the garbage and the camps there were also some people who peered out from tents and tarps, looking quizzically at the men who’d hiked down from the subdivision.

Within the combined Indian Hills and Linden Canyon areas, Bundy and his group identified about 40 separate camps. They estimated that between 100 to 150 people lived there, off and on. Bundy said that one man said he’d been there for about four years.

That morning’s field trip was a turning point. For Bundy and many of his Indian Hills neighbors, there was no going back.

In addition to disliking the camps’ mess and noise, residents were uneasy about exactly who lived in the camps. Were they harmless, down-and-out people, or AB-109 hardcore criminals?

“One neighbor watched two guys in the green belt looking at his daughter and friend play in their back yard,” Bundy said.

Residents also worried about fire, in the middle of an epic drought.

“There were multiple fires that luckily got put out,” Bundy said. “It’s scary to think that what happened in Weed could happen here.”

Plus, residents were concerned about the criminal element drawn to the camps, evidenced by suspected stolen property, such as safes, cell phones, purses and literally hundreds of pounds of bikes and bike parts.

As Bundy and his fellow workers cleared the green belt of the transient encampments, they filled a trailer with 2,300 pounds of bikes and bike parts.

Those were among myriad concerns that prompted the creation of an informal Indian Hills Neighborhood Association, formed in December of 2013, nearly 140 members strong.

Since the group’s inception, Joannie Morrison has been the association’s de facto administrator. She’s documented all communication – every email, meeting and phone call – between the association and the various city departments, including emails to Redding’s fire chief, police chief, code enforcement officer and city manager.

Early on in the process, to dramatically illustrate the scope of the problem, the association sent city officials more than 20 photos that showed the graphic nature of the encampments. The group pointed out the fire hazards, and asked for city help eradicating the encampments.

The messages reached Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti, who recently acknowledged the significant efforts of  two particular Indian Hills Association members.

“Nick Bundy and Joannie Morrison have taken on the lion’s share of the work in the Linden Canyon project, and they deserve the attention of this department,” Paoletti said, adding that help is on the way.

“We are currently working on a project behind the Masonic Lodge and will shift to focus on Linden Canyon when that project is completed.”

According to Redding City Manager Kurt Starman, in some ways citizens like Bundy – who he commends for taking a leadership role in eradicating transient encampments –  have the benefit of more leeway when it comes to cleaning up illegal encampments.

“As a private individual, (Bundy) has more flexibility to deal with some of the problems in this area, such as illegal camp sites and trash,” Starman said.

“The City of Redding must follow a court-defined process to abate illegal camp sites for legal reasons. That process takes a significant amount of time. Mr. Bundy is not subject to those same legal requirements because he is essentially operating as an agent for the property owners.”

Redding Police Chief Robert Paoletti echoed Starman’s observations about citizens’ flexibility.

“Private property owners are under much less restrictions than the police and code enforcement team to clean up their own property,” Paoletti said.

Eventually, working with private property owners is exactly what led to Bundy’s most dramatic before-and-after successes in terms of cleaning up some of the illegal camps. Property owners hired Bundy and gave him consent to remove the trash and clear the land.

During the past year’s struggle to get rid of the transient camp sites, Indian Hills Association members often felt tremendous frustration and confusion about which agencies to contact when, and which departments were responsible for what. They felt dizzy from being referred to the police department, only to be referred to the fire department, followed by referrals to city code enforcement, sometimes being pointed back to the department that had just referred them elsewhere.

Undaunted, the Indian Hills Association continued with a barrage of phone calls, emails and meetings, one taking place as recently as this week between Bundy and Starman.

On one occasion, Redding City Council member Missy McArthur accepted the group’s invitation to hear and see what they were up against. She joined them on a short tour of some illegal camp sites.

One evening at the peak of his exasperation with the encampments, Bundy, who doesn’t consider public speaking among his strong suits, showed up at a Redding City Council meeting and described during the public comment period the illegal camps. He hoped to enlighten the public and city leaders about what was happening near his neighborhood.

Chief Paoletti was already well-aware of the encampments and their negative impact throughout Redding, not just Indian Hills and Linden Canyon.

“Citizens are being challenged all over the city with the encampments created by the transient population,” Paoletti said. “These illegal camps are creating blight in the community, increasing fire dangers and are increasing environmental damage in our open spaces.”

Paoletti empathizes with citizens who want the encampments banished immediately upon their discovery. He wishes that were possible, too, but he said it’s not that simple.

“It is extremely challenging because many of these illegal camps are on private property in which the owners are not taking an active role in preventing (the encampments),” Paoletti said.

Case in point, Paoletti said that just the Linden Canyon area alone has numerous different owners. The Redding Police Department is required to get “consent to enforce” permission from each land-owner before action can be taken. All that is fine, assuming the property-owners can be accurately identified.

Paoletti said that although on a map, it may appear as if property lines are clearly delineated, the actual story may be far different when you get on the ground. It might require GPS to correctly identify which plots belong to which land-owner.

In some ways, that’s the easier part. The final hurdle – getting the land-owners to comply – is more difficult.

“The owners often ignore the attempts to contact them by code enforcement and the police department,” Paoletti said.

All parties agree that one of the biggest roadblocks to eradicating the illegal camps is tracking down the property-owners and getting their cooperation.

Take the Linden Canyon area, located in Redding’s center, but also in a remote and isolated area.

Starman said the Linden Canyon land was subdivided 100 years ago, but never developed, due to the topography. Getting rid of encampments can be a multi-layered problematic process.

“It is very difficult to tell where the property lines are located,” Starman said. “There are over 20 individual property owners. Some of the property owners do not live in the community, and have little interest in the area.”

What’s more, Starman said, until recently most of the property was not properly posted with “no trespassing” signs, which makes it difficult for the police to intervene.

Finally, even when the property owners are found and identified, until quite recently, many of the property owners had still failed to provide the police department with consent-to-enforce forms. Without that, city departments cannot proceed.

But sometimes, the process works just the way it’s designed, such as when the city sent letters to the owners of three largest parcels about violations. After that, two of the land-owners hired Bundy to post notifications, clean and clear 18.95 acres of the transient camps.

Bundy and his team removed 10 tons of trash from that first parcel. They used heavy equipment to open trails to the camps and garbage piles. They then scooped up the trash and loaded it into a dumpster.

Some of the trash was hand-loaded and hauled out. And Bundy hired two homeless men to help, paying them with money and pizza.

The Indian Hills Association members walked the property, and sent photos of the cleared land to the city.

Soon after, the second largest property-owner also hired Bundy to clear out the transient camps, where he removed 7.65 tons of trash.

Between those two parcels, Bundy and his group cleared and cleaned about 25 acres of transient encampments.

But as victorious as it felt to get those parcels cleared and cleaned, many Indian Hills Association members remain astounded that it’s taken so long to eradicate illegal camps that were discovered a year ago, especially since so many problem-parcels remain untouched.

Added to Bundy’s wish list is his suggestion that private citizens who work to eradicate illegal encampments should receive free or reduced fees to dump what can literally add up to tons of trash.

But first things first.

On the one hand, what Bundy finds most unsettling is the realization that among what he estimates are 29 property-owners who have illegal transient encampments on their land in the combined Indian Hills and Linden Canyon area, just 16 have received letters from the city.

Bundy said that of those 16, just nine have been re-inspected to check for compliance. And Bundy said that of those nine, just two have yet to comply by having their property cleaned, cleared and posted.

But on the other hand, although in Bundy’s ideal scenario, all the illegal camps would be cleaned up by now, he credits Starman and Paoletti for working with him so he could clear some of the biggest, most blighted parcels. He also acknowledges both men for taking time to listen, and to continue to meet, talk and participate as a team with a united goal.

Likewise, while Starman acknowledges Bundy’s donation of a “tremendous” amount of personal time to cleanup and monitor the Indian Hills and Linden Canyon areas, Starman also credits the Redding Police Department and Redding’s Code Enforcement Division for working closely with Bundy and the subdivision neighbors.

While the clean-up of the Indian Hills subdivision and Linden Canyon are utmost on Bundy’s mind, Starman knows that those properties represent just two areas battling the issue of illegal transient encampments.

Other well-known, recurring encampments include those located off Lake Boulevard, as well in parts of Henderson Open Space and along trails, river banks, beneath bridges and on undeveloped land throughout the city.

Redding’s illegal transient camps have turned into a nightmare code enforcement version of Wackamole, where red-tagged illegal campers are evicted from one eradicated camp after another, often eventually returning to the original camps from which they were first removed.

For Paoletti, it’s not all bad news.

“This is not to say that we have not made progress,” he said. “We currently have consent to enforce for most of the properties, and are working to secure consent from the remaining owners. Typically we do not clean up private property, due to resource constraints, but we are setting priorities for the worst locations and will address them in sequence.”

For Redding City Manager Starman, the topic of the illegal encampments is a complex issue, one he said involves the entire community.

“The Redding Police Department and the city of Redding’s Code Enforcement Division typically deal with the symptoms (such as illegal camp sites),” he said.

“We, as a community, really need to take a hard look at the underlying problems, such as drug abuse, an inadequate mental health system, and insufficient jail space, to name a few.”

Finally, for Bundy, when he’s not thinking about the camps that remain in the ravine below his Indian Hills subdivision, he tries to look on the positive side.

Two parcels down, 20-something to go.

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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.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is 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, California.
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59 Responses

  1. Avatar mike says:

    Great story!! Good neighbors do great things! The property owners who neglect their property should have their names made public. Shame on them.

  2. Avatar Jeff says:

    Is anyone working on establishing legal camp sites. These people are not going to just go away. Would it not be better if there were some areas that could actually be managed in some fashion instead of just herding cats? The City has plenty of undeveloped land just south of town, the McConnell foundation has undeveloped land inside of the city limits and there is the old dump off of Placer St. Low income housing is not going to solve but a small percentage of this problem, if any.

    • Avatar Pamela says:

      This photos do look like third world countries. Interesting: in the richest country in the world, one would think we as a society could do better.

      • You can’t help those who refuse to help themselves. Why should it become society in general’s responsibility to provide for people who clearly prefer this kind of ‘lifestyle’. There are places to go and things that can be done to rectify this problem, but these ‘people’ are living the way they have chosen to live and refuse that hand UP for a hand OUT.

    • Avatar Nick says:

      maybe u should go ask the mission and other groups to do that they feed them, give them clothes and tents. The city should not be fronting the bill for these lazy people to camp. The mission brings in million dollars or more every year. I think they should be helping clean this stuff up too.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      Solving even a small part of the problem is a start.

      The homeless are a wide variety of people. One solution is not going to solve the whole problem.

      First you have to figure out who they are and why they are homeless, then you can start figuring out solutions. And once the problem has some parameters you then tackle it piece by piece. The “solution” won’t happen over night.

      No one seems to be willing to take this one first step. You put the money in up front or you keep paying year after year. How much money does the Redding PD spend EVERY month arresting these people and then turning them back onto the streets? Either way you are going to pay for this problem.

      Hate to sound redundant, but this problem is not going to disappear because you keep cleaning up camp after camp.

    • Avatar Charlie says:

      Before Gov. Reagan, there were at least 3 state mental hospitals to help disturbed people. Mendocino and Napa are two, which provided shelter, food, and other care, but they were closed to save state expenditures, on the assumption local counties could handle things. All but the most afflicted inmates were then simply turned loose.

  3. Avatar Jeff says:

    As a resident of south Redding near the Girvan area, I certainly don’t want a homeless encampment or any managed encampment for transients. I have lived in my neighborhood for almost 20 years, and until this last year, we didn’t have any problems with theft. It is all because of AB109, overcrowded jails, and the homeless. We need to stop supporting the transient population in Redding, and make it less pleasant for them to stay here. That is the only solution to this problem!

    • Avatar Pamela says:

      How about if we try solving the problems of homelessness, poverty and mental health issues? This would be a solution. Maybe one less military drone (how much $) and more mental health services and job training–and jobs in general, sustainability-oriented specifically.

      • Avatar Christian says:

        Mr. Bundy seems like a very nice and productive person. Has he used his construction skills to build housing for the homeless as well as he has used them to demolish housing? Has Doni ever written as nice an article from a homeless person’s perspective?

        In a culture that likes to blame, we often dismiss and stigmatize people suffering from symptoms of mental health conditions (this includes homelessness, poverty, un-employment and drug and alcohol abuse) and “normal” people that are having a rough time in this brutal economy, as unmoral, or lazy – and possibly criminal, that need to move on, be jailed or need to pull them selves up by their bootstraps.

        This right wing attitudes WAR ON POVERTY, that even exists to some degree in our local over stressed social service delivery systems, often due to job burnout…) seems rather prevalent in Redding and the answer this cultural perspective provides is often punitive, demands that we “pass laws” and use law enforcement and good old neighborhood watch groups to jail and or drive the bums away, while, I might add, they insist on defunding our maxed out and over stressed social services. Our local media loves to provide an outlet for upper and middle-class social angst, allowing at times solutions to homelessness like “detention camps… guns” to be placed on websites. Clearly, this punitive solution alone doesn’t work; just look around. The answers to the problems of today’s conic and often-insidious mental health, homelessness and poverty problems are not found in this Malthusian, Hobbes and Ayn Rand cultural philosophy.

        Yes, there area few homeless and many inmates in the justice system (and arguably people in our political and economic systems), frankly diagnosable as Anti Social. To this segment of population crime is “not personal, its just business” and people afflicted with this can be very dangerous; this is a difficult problem for society (look at a few of the problems with AB 109 realignment). However, our systems do not focus on “white collar crimes” as much as lower class crime. How many Wall-Street bankers went to jail (only one that I know of…) but instead get a slap on the hand and fined a few million for crashing the economy of the United Stated as well as much of the “developed world ” while they got filthy rich? Yes, “white collar” crime is often not violent… but can affect lives of whole nations.

        The majority people living on the streets are not anti social, and most do not want to be homeless. Yes, they may, or might not, have mental health problems that often manifest as serious functional impairments, and yes, seeing someone passed out in urine, living in camps third world camps or seeing families living in an old car, and seeing children not able to have consistent educational and health opportunities is difficult on us and causes anxiety. However, many (perhaps most according to numerous studies) people on the streets do have mental health issues and frankly, about 20% or more of our “normal” U.S. population have mental health problems that are often at times disabling. Also, about half of our society is one pay check from socio-economic chaos, and 25% of the children in the US live in poverty, many not knowing where there next meal is coming from, (as we Ayn Rand want-to-be politicians try to defund school lunch-breakfast programs). Stigmatizing, jailing and banishing people are not solutions to homelessness and poverty.

        So let’s see as much energy focused on ways help can be provided as we do in demanding punishment and exclusion.

        • Avatar Beth Brunner says:

          Doni has written articles from the perspective of the homeless. I remember one in particular about 2 years ago? Maybe in can be found in the archives. It was pretty good.

        • Avatar Pamela says:

          We seem to be a me-me-me culture, get what I can for me and get it now and to heck with anyone less fortunate. Every spiritual leader and teacher talked about helping the poor: “Blessed be the poor. . . .” In my opinion, we have really strayed away from spiritual principles, including principles set down by Jesus: love your enemies, turn the other check, love, forgiveness. . . .

        • Avatar Over It says:

          Well said….seeing as you are obviously concerned with the plight of this ” overlooked population” maybe you should post your address and they can all come live on your property?
          Just a thought…. Oh no, not an appropriate solution? You would rather we spend more money helping those who for the most part are unwilling, not unable, to help themselves.
          Were over it…Plain and simple….

  4. Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

    Enabling this scourage whether by clothing, tents, food or land only encourages more of the same. We need strict enforcement and more Bundys, not complaining and sympathy for law breakers

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      …and this is attitude is a huge part of the problem.

      These people will NOT simply vanish. If someone does establish camps, putting them out in the boonies with no services will guarantee they won’t stay there. This is why the camps end up near the downtown areas.

      I understand, no one wants them in THEIR neighborhood, it is the definition of NIMBY: “Not In My Back Yard”.

      We all live in the same society. This is an societal issue that must be solved by all of us, for all of us. Including all those people you want to wish away.

      • Avatar K. Beck says:

        This reply was supposed to go under Jeff ‘s post of
        October 16, 2014 • 12:16 pm. Not sure how it ended up here.

  5. Bill Siemer Bill Siemer says:

    Good job Doni. Thanks for bringing this out in the open. I agree with Jeff. We need a place, with some structure, to give these people somewhere to go.

    • Avatar Nick says:

      We have places for them. the mission and county health but they do not except the help. We need punishment not a roof, bed,tv, internet, play ground for them to use when they are suppose to be getting punished.just look at ab109. guess that punishment they received didn’t work did it I offered some of them a full time job. Not one took that offer.

  6. Avatar K. Beck says:

    Have a look at this site. They seem to have figured out how to deal with part of the problem anyway, if what they are saying on their web site is true. How about a couple of city council members, someone from the PD, a few reps from the people who serve the the homeless in Redding, and someone from Shasta mental health take a field trip to Dallas?

    The Bridge (A Homeless Recovery Center), Dallas, Texas

    • Avatar Sam Allen says:

      I have seen this web site The Bridge from texas.From all the research I have done personally, I think this program has a great concept. I agree it seems like we run folks out in one place just to have them show up somewhere else. Some cities use Greyhound Therapy but that only send them to another city. We can continue feeding, but that just brings more into the communities. I have always thought we need one point of entry for everyone picked off the street. A case worker assigned, evaluation of their core problem decided, proper treatment, transitional housing, job training, employment and permanent housing and follow up for two years to make sure they stay on task. The services offered here in Redding can be involved, but with limits on the number of people in this system. A lot of homeless receive SSI checks every month that go to drugs, alcohol , and others instead of housing. We could manage this program but it will take a lot of funding that most of us just cannot spare. It is a viable answer to a huge problem in every city and now small towns across the country. God bless us all!

  7. Avatar Nick says:

    What some of you should understand is we had to push this issue upon our city to get them to respond and help. I spoke at council meeting about this problem a year ago. not one of the council members reached out to us or pushed for the correct departments to do anything. clean house on Nov 4
    Why do we pay so much in taxes to deal with this. We asked the city to send letters to all land owners in Jan 2014. Just notify them of a problem. we are just now getting the city to do this. Missy McArthur only came out because a friend of a friend asked her to. she made a meeting for us and we showed her the problems but she got us nowhere.

  8. Avatar Nick says:

    I will say now that I have worked with the chief on coming up with a way to attack the remaining problem. He and his department are getting things done. My meetings with Starman sounds promising but I will not give credit till I see work being done. I understand that government is slow moving but 9 months later is crazy.

  9. Avatar Richard C. says:

    Excellent reporting and accompanying photos. One problem that many of us have, is differentiating those harmless homeless that would benefit from the assistance we would be eager to provide, from those who not only refuse help but also prey on other homeless individuals.

    Currently, the RPD, GNRM, and Shasta County HHS are in the process of interviewing many of the homeless campers to determine who are willing and able to accept help, and those who are not. That is at least a good start. And those who advocate for transitional housing are certainly correct that this is needed—-but given that there are between 3500-4000 homeless individuals in Shasta County, a quick housing solution is clearly not logistically possible. The present population of Weaverville is 3600….

    So for now, the dilemma is to identify those who can be helped and provide them assistance in improving their lives. Those that will not accept help should be required to abide by the same laws and codes as the rest of us, or find more hospitable venues.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      My guess is that most of the 3500-4000 homeless in Shasta County have mental health issues and/or substance abuse issues. Telling them all to go out and get a job is pointless. Assuming that they will abide the laws is also pointless. They are mentally not capable of doing any of those things.

      Good that there are people trying to figure out who is who. As I said, that is the first step. Transitional housing will not work for many of these people. Many of them simply will not stay there.

      Transitional housing should be made available to those who have been screened and who are known to be capable of transitioning into permanent housing of some sort at some point.

      There needs to be a series of half way houses (which would probably actually be permanent housing for most) set up to meet the needs of those living there. Not set up to throw unscreened individuals in a house to live together who have very different mental states and abilities to cope. There would need to be 24 hour professional at each house. Yes, this will cost money. So does re-arresting the same people over and over again.

      The people referred to as being on the street by choice often do not have the mental capacity to make that, or any other choice. I do not believe anyone lives on the street because they made a conscious decision, at some point, to live on the street. They ended up on the street for some reason, adjusted to the “life style”, and are now stuck there.

      Whatever the reason they are living on the street we can’t leave them there. It cost way more money leaving people to live on the street than it will take to get them into a living situation were they, and we, are all safe again.

  10. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Another great piece, Doni, in your ongoing series of columns highlighting this troubling problem. I cannot comprehend the horror of being homeless by circumstance rather than by choice. But as Doni pointed out in her very first article, many are homeless by choice. Panhandling and begging — not to mention theft — are much more attractive than the nine-to-five grind. Because of the proximity of our Redding house to South City Park, unSafeway, the Mission, the City Hall lawn, the Library, and a greenbelt to the east, we see more than our share of squatters. As stated above, no one wants these encampments in our back yards; so why not build a tent camp on Stillwater property? If any of those parcels are ever sold — which seems questionable — then the camp could be moved elsewhere, perhaps near the homes of some City Councilors. Yes, “those people” need to be somewhere, but they shouldn’t be causing wonderful people like Nick Bundy and his cohorts to be spending their time, effort, and money to make their neighborhoods safe. I realize that the police have to comply with codes, but codes can be changed, and apparently should be. Why should residents be forced to put up with this blight simply because of a code. Even the US Constitution can be amended. The next City Council must put the needs of the tax-paying residents first. If I may share a story: we lived in Alaska for many years at a time when the Alaska Pipeline was being built. Wally Hickle was Governor, and got tired of being told that “codes” kept the road to the North Slope from being built. So Wally hopped onto a bulldozer, dropped the blade, and started construction of the highway. I’m sure there’s more to the story than that, like was he fined or reprimanded, but whatever the consequences, the road was built, the pipeline was laid, and North Slope oil started flowing.

  11. Avatar Jeff says:

    The government can not solve this problem. To those of you who think that more police officers will make the difference,what will more police officers do unless we have enough to put one on every corner? As for those that think some form of punishment will make these people amend their ways; what form of punishment do you propose? A The 109ers are mostly people from Shasta County who have already been punished by our court system. We have more of them on our streets than other areas because our legal system sends more of them to prison. Sooner or later they will be back with us. Then we will have to deal with them returning from prison, where the only things they learn is how to survive in those hardscrabble conditions; a perfect training ground for what?

  12. Avatar KarenC says:

    Nick, you are a man to be admired! Thank you for being so brave, professional, and going out and getting things done, instead of talking about it. Frankly, I am very tired of hearing everyone else acknowledging the problem, using myriad of words to say why we need to take care of it, but there is no action. We need to stop doing research, spending money on committees to figure out what to do….you showed us that “just do it” can be done! Now, to all the other property owners…just do it…..please!

    Excellent article Doni, thanks so much.

  13. Avatar Nick says:

    I would like to say thanks to Doni for spending the time to make sure the information was accurate. very good reporting

  14. Avatar Trek says:

    I find it hard to believe that Mr. Starman would allow this without the proper permits in order. Clearing land requires a grading and an erosion permit, especially with the rains coming. Hopefully you are covered or have been waived? I applaud your desire to clean up your neighborhood!

    • Avatar Nick says:

      No grading permit required unless you are moving dirt. It was a fire fuel reduction. We stayed out of the creeks. I left oak trees and HRA (Habitat Retention Area). It looks much better there is grass growing back in most areas and we are seeing more wild life.

  15. Avatar Summer says:

    Way to go Nick Bundy!!! I truly believe THIS is what it is going to take to fix the problem. The community rising up together. It only takes one person to start a movement. What an example you are setting for your daughter.

  16. Avatar Laurie says:

    Wow! Nick Bundy is my hero! I think it’s a shame, though, that residents have to take matters into their own hands to get problems solved. Isn’t this what our elected and appointed officials are supposed to be doing? But thank goodness we have people like Mr. Bundy who see what needs to be done and just do it. This is what leadership is all about. I’m in awe…

  17. Avatar K. Beck says:

    What about eminent domain? If there are land owners not willing to keep their properties clean and safe maybe they should not own them anymore. It is a public safety issue. Probably the city and county really do not want to be responsible for maintaining these properties, but it would sure cut down on red tape and wait times. If these properties were regularly looked after and cleaned up it might be a toss up as to cost and effort over the long run.

    • Avatar Nick says:

      The city can not even take care of the land it owns now. They need to spend a little rainy day $ and clear some of the brush on the land they own. Doing this will remove the habitat for the lawless citizens and make the city look better. I talk to people every week who live here and visit here and they say this city could look so much nicer. Especially around the river. If u build it they will come. They come and the tax revenue will increase. If my business is cluttered and dirty do you think people are going to spend $ with me.

  18. Avatar Stephanie Luke says:

    How refreshing to read real journalism. Kudos to you, Doni, and to Nick Bundy and others who deserve recognition for addressing this on-going problem. I hope it gets wide circulation.

  19. Avatar david kerr says:

    I think the overwhelming majority of transients have spent time in the Bay Area, Butte County or Humboldt county. They chose to live here because they believe it is the best place to live the lifestyle they chose.

    We live in a highly mobile society. Why did they choose to live here instead of some very attractive alternatives?

  20. Avatar Ginny says:

    Thank you Doni, again, for your great reporting. Thank you Nick for taking the bull by the horns and cleaned up the mess!

  21. Avatar Bee says:

    Nick Bundy for president!!!! Or at least mayor! I got more information in this article and by Nick’s comments, than I’ve found in a year of digging. I got a little teary eyed after a wild trip to unSafeway the other day (worse than I’ve ever seen it) and vented to my husband, “Where are the men in this town? Where are those World War Two generation type of guys who protect women and children; who can clean up this town and make us safe and comfortable again?” Nick Bundy, you restored my hope! Deeply thankful.

    Redding had the “perfect storm” that allowed this to happen. It’s also like the chicken before the egg scenario, where we need more funds to help the mentally ill and addicted, for more police, and for a jail….but we need the city cleaned up to attract all the things that bring in those funds. i.e. jobs, tourist dollars, retiree income, young entrepreneurs. We need to attack it on ALL fronts, and I truly believe making it uncomfortable to illegally camp is the front line first step.

  22. Avatar Richard C. says:

    Doni, thank you for the excellent reporting (maybe an interview with Jonathan Anderson, new Executive Director of the Good News Rescue Mission about what the Mission does and does not do – they do not provide tents – would be helpful to your readers).

    Nick, you inspire us all to get involved and make our city a cleaner and safer place to live. Our neighborhood also was faced with the illegal camping/trash issue, but on a much smaller scale. As Neighborhood Watch captains, we simply went online, determined the property parcels, went to the county court house and looked up the addresses of the private property owners on the public tax record files, then made telephone calls and/or wrote letters about our “collective” neighborhood concerns. Even the “out-of-state” property owners responded positively. Ms. Morrison sounds like an effective administrator and I am wondering if your neighborhood association would have better luck going directly to the private property owners rather than waiting for the city to respond. The property owners may be even more amenable to responding to your requests rather than to the city. That said, I still believe the city needs to be a part of the collaboration, but please do not underestimate the power of your 140 member neighborhood.

    Lastly, I think it is time for our city to consider a position for coordinating all things “homeless/transient/unhoused” – a one-stop shopping, if you will, for concerned residents to interface with in an effort to stop the guessing on what department to call for your concern.

  23. Avatar KarenC says:

    There is a time and place for everything and now is the time to fix what the vagrant criminals are doing to our City. We have lived here in beautiful river city for over 51 years and I do not like what I am seeing. Sometimes rules have to be put aside to get things taken care of – the right way, and not wait for a bunch of bureaucrats to give permission for this or that. The right thing is to take back our land, our canyons, our creeks, clean them up and let the wildlife come back in. They know how to care for the land…….
    Nick Bundy… thanks again for what you are doing…..we need a small army of folks like you!

  24. Avatar Patrick says:

    Nick.. Your awesome!! We all can do something to clean up Redding.. even if it’s a simple phone call to inform the police where camps are being set up.. they DO respond as quick as possible and get the trash cleaned up.
    We use to have a horrible problem up on Quartz Hill Rd between Benton & Keswick Dam Rd.. But since the new homes in Belair Estates have gone in, the druggies moved out. Some try to set up camps but with the “homeowner eyes” watching and calls to the city.. no camps so far!!

  25. Avatar cheyenne says:

    The Sac Bee has an article on poverty. It seems that California has the largest percentage of its population below the poverity level of any state. Over 8 million people in California are below the poverty level. If taken as a state the poor in California would be about the 34th state in population. I think it is not just a Redding problem but a state problem. A lot of that is probably because California has the highest cost of living in the nation. Sperlings has Redding cost of living 12% higher than the nation’s average, and electrical costs 18% higher than the rest of the nation.
    But Redding’s COLA is below most of the rest of California.
    The problems in Redding begin in Sacramento, not Washington DC. And DC is high on the list for percentage of poor.
    Two things that could be done in Redding that would help the economy.
    1-Turtle Bay should have a marijuana exhibit. Marijuana, though illegal, has as big a history in the northstate as logging or mining. That would bring in tourists that would fill up the new hotel.
    2-Turn Stillwater into a Colorado style marijuana grow site. Using the same security that is used in Colorado, security cameras, fences, guards, a large legal marijuana farm would boost the local economy as exports of Emerald Green would be sent to Colorado, Washington and other states. The same criteria for licensing the growers as Colorado uses would need to be used.
    As I see it both of those two examples are on the ballot in Shasta County.

  26. Avatar Chuck Dethero says:

    What happened to last Wednesday’s word-of-the-day, compassion? https://anewscafe.com/2014/10/15/wednesdays-word-compassion/
    If not for the Grace of God go I, and I have a 4-year degree and a full-time job. In this era, things are really rough for a lot of people. Getting rid of the homeless stuff, solves their problem, but it doesn’t solve the problem of the homeless, who will certainly set up somewhere else. There must be a better way of spending federal/state/county/city monies to solve the homeless problem similar to the government programs during the Great Depression. I am for restoring CCC Camps, providing the homeless with work such as fuels reduction that would also benefit our area, housing, facilities, regular food, etc, just like the CCC Camps during the Great Depression.

  27. Avatar TS says:

    I would happily volunteer my time to help with any of these clean-ups. Although I don’t have a huge problem in my area (sunset Terrace) I know how problems like this spread if you don’t do something about it. It seems to me that there are 3 types of homeless, the “bad breaks, needs help” class, the “I would rather just be left alone” class and the “I really like to be a lazy SOB, and take drugs and drink you you can go to hell if you don’t like it” crowd. At least 2 of these 3 groups really need to go away, one way or another.

  28. Avatar Alice P. says:

    This is a story that needs to be told beyond just Redding. The solid journalism augmented by intelligent, thoughtful comments perfectly reveal the complicated issues rampant in every city in the country trying to address an underclass population left resourceless. The breath and depth of stories about and reasons for the homeless phenomena, along with humane solutions, are worthy of volumes. Kudos Doni Chamberlain for an excellent objective, well researched piece of journalism that reaches far beyond the particulars and as the comments show, inspire us to think like a community.

  29. Avatar Bob says:

    When we move these folks out of our neighborhood, we just move them into some other neighborhood. That obvious fact has been addressed above.

    However, Doni, your journalism in reporting on this is not up to par. I could cite many instances of innuendo unsupported by facts, but let me just point out one: “One neighbor watched two guys in the green belt looking at his daughter and friend play in their back yard,” So now if you are homeless you are suspect if you merely look at someone? And you are reporting this third hand, no less.

    Doni, when you are reporting on hot button issues you need to remain objective. In my opinion you failed to do that in many places in this piece, including a description of items that were “apparently stolen”. Once again, innuendo without substantiating facts.

    • Oh, Bob.

      Yup. It would be creepy to see adults -strangers – standing near your yard watching your kids play. It wouldn’t matter if they were transients, or not. But in this case they were. I can’t fault a father for feeling uncomfortable with that scenario.

      And the “apparently stolen” items, I suppose by some stretch of the imagination it’s possible that of the literally TONS of stuff found in about 40 illegal camps over many acres, perhaps some transients did purchase things like safes, shopping carts, solar panels, purses, etc.

      But I think the police would back me up in saying it’s not likely.

      p.s. I welcome you to submit a letter to the editor so you can expound on your views on this difficult subject.

  30. Avatar Ginny says:

    I sure wouldn’t like a unknown, homeless person watching my daughter and her friend playing in their yard. Check on the amount of sex offenders in jails and in your own neighborhood, and not homeless!

    Oh, heavens, assumptions some things are stolen. Check out the grocery carts!

    • Avatar Bob says:

      How about a person living in a house looking into your yard at your children. Would that bother you the same? Or would you be more fearful of the homeless person? There are more sex offenders living in houses than in the canyons. In other words, most sex offenders live in houses; should we then be afraid of people who live in houses?

      See how prejudice works?

  31. Avatar Virginia says:

    I don’t want them looking at my children no matter where they live!! It is common sense.

  32. Avatar Terry M. says:

    Unacceptable behavior should not be tolerated, whether perpetrated by the housed or unhoused.