Marching in Place

Redding’s generous nature has become a self-fulfilling prophesy about why we do not change and meet the wolf at our collective door.


Other places have adopted rules and strategies which work while we endlessly meet, study, debate, hire consultants, wring hands and continue business as usual. Our inability to face reality with meaningful solutions causes us to continue conduct which is fostering the crisis of vagrancy in our streets and neighborhoods.

Here are written ideas that work, but have not been followed. They are inexpensive, but cannot reach the threshold of adoption rather than conversation:

1) Do not give cash out the window of a motor vehicle. Medford passed an ordinance making such activity a moving violation. You simply do not see cardboard sign carrying vagrants there because that behavior is not rewarded.

2) Those engaged in providing clothing, tents and other hardware which endlessly despoils our open spaces must permanently label what is given. This simple task stops the land fill waste and makes the enabling party responsible.

3) Report illegal camps and join groups which help officials clear this health and safety violation.

4) The annual outpouring of Community Creek Clean Up is wonderful, but one day a year is not enough. Our priceless largess of open space has to be recaptured from those who are despoiling it. Retreating to our homes means the enemy has won.

5) Give to charities with a proven record of success.

6) Support the coming tax initiative to provide more community service officers and spaces to contain those who violate the law.

7) Become part of the solution rather than complain and wonder why things are worse.

8) Ask tough questions of officials such as why the Colt 45s had to hire private security when the new police station is a hundred feet from Tiger Field.

9) Insist the months of meetings result in real solutions, not simply adjourn to another date in the future.

10) Keep complaining, but most of all ACT.

Independence Day caused reflection of those brave souls who wanted a better tomorrow and risked everything to make change. We can follow that example and retake our community from those who are stealing our safety and liberty. It is long past time for the tyranny of indifference to be vanquished.

Randall R. Smith
Randy Smith is a retired physician, morphed into a full-time professional volunteer. He is a former member of the Redding Planning Commission and Cal-Tip Advisory Board. He is an active member and the founder of the Allied Stream Team of Rotary Club of Redding. He lives in Redding with his wife, Judy.
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. Comments are disabled on articles older than 90 days. Thank you. Carry on.

17 Responses

  1. Avatar EasternCounty says:

    Hear, hear!!!  Why is it that those who have been elected/appointed/employed to solve issues are unable to do so but that mere onlookers (those who have to live with the situations) can offer solutions with results?  I once read this comment: trash stays in place because it’s easier to form a committee than just to bend over and pick it up.  I don’t know where the city fathers and mothers live, but if the illegal camps were in their backyards or if the vagrants/vandals/criminals roamed their neighborhoods, I imagine there would be action rather than further wringing of hands.

  2. Avatar Hollyn Chase says:

    Thank you! And very well said, but regarding #5, can you recommend a local charity with a “proven record of success”?

  3. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Glad you numbered your advice, easy to respond in this manner.

    1. Yes, support. The donor does not know where the money is actually spent, food or substance abuse ?

    2. You’ve got to convince about 2 dozen non-profits/faith organizations to get on board.

    3. Yes, support.  But, this is a private ownership responsibility and City Codes.

    4.  Yes, support. But, again, is it private or public land, codes, ownership is where it begins.

    5. Yes, support. But, often times these proven charities have many hoops & nets that folks fall through.

    6.  Yes, support.  But, only if the ballot initiative is clear so the voters understand where the funds will be spent.

    7. Yes, and always get involved instead of hyperbole.

    8. Why ask, it’s obvious Tiger Field and surrounding park has been a campground for years, the fact the RPD is close is of no consequence, it’s the City codes that have to be implemented or amended.

    9.  Yes, support. But, unfortunately such complicated tasks need to be fully addressed so that every aspect is dealt with by community and civic leaders. I too want something to happen overnight, but know that this is a slow process in accordance with local, state & federal laws. Not to mention it’s up to our civic leaders to provide the funds to make these aspects happen, Day Center, Crisis Team, etc.  Fences will only move the problem to another area.

    10.  Yes, support. But, acting with conviction and with team work. And under the current laws and not in a vindictive, unlawful manner.


  4. Randall R. Smith Randall R. Smith says:

    Best of breed is Providence International available on line.  They provide work, a place and the means of being useful growing food, gathering firewood, restoring the environment and people at the same time.  North Valley Catholic Social Services has been in the business of finding homes for decades.  Good News Rescue Mission leads people to education and meaningful self improvement.  Empire Recovery Center has the ability to provide short term housing and detox.  Salvation Army and People of Progress are worthy, if they would only label what they give and take back what is recovered.  There are others; not using them is a way of contributing to the problem.

    The issue of private vs public is somewhat disingenuous.  Shasta Support Services goes to great lengths on any parcel needing help with permission, of course.  The ecosystem does not understand our artificial boundaries.  I have a 1602 Stream Bed Alteration Permit and the 1899 Harbors and Navigation Act gives any citizen the right to acquire any personal property disposed of in the flood plain of any navigable water of these United States.  This long tested law in the interest of public safety requires no due process or search and seizure prohibitions.  Finding excuses not to act is another form of enabling.

    Most of what we have are voluntary vagrants.  Ask them as I have for over fifteen years.  The reply is invariably the same, ” We are free people!  If we go to the shelter, there are rules: a shower once a week, no swearing, no drugs, no alcohol, no guns, no knives,no dogs, no talking after 10P and many others which inhibit liberty.”  Go to the camps, ask for yourself and become enlightened.  We are on the edge of anarchy and doing nothing is not an option.

  5. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Cheyenne has a number of facilities that care for the homeless/vagrants and we do not have the homeless problems our neighbors in Colorado have.  The police interact with the homeless and have encountered the same “too many rules” response to those who don’t seek aid at the numerous shelters in town.  The Cheyenne Police Department has a volunteer program where the police volunteers, no guns but radios, walk the downtown area and communicate with business owners and tourists.  While other front range cities are enacting sit/lie laws and cleaning out homeless camps, Cheyenne is not.  We don’t have homeless camps and the homeless are not sitting or lying on the sidewalk in front of businesses.  There are several metal benches on all the sidewalks where they don’t impede businesses and all people, myself included, have used them.

    The restoring of apartments to house homeless veterans in Cheyenne and Northern Colorado has been highly successful.  Cheyenne did a study of homeless minors a few years ago and the result was targeting over 200 homeless students in Cheyenne schools.  Houses were restored, some were donated by local churches, where students were housed with an adult.  This past high school graduation saw the first of students from these homes graduate.

    What I see in Redding, garnered from what I read in the local papers there and talking to friends is Redding’s only answer to homelessness is to send them elsewhere.  Which does not make Redding unique as other cities feel the same way.  I read about Prescott, my grand daughters live in Phoenix, and Prescott has a real problem with the homeless, a lot of it driven by sober living homes which Prescott seems a magnet for.  Prescott banned panhandling downtown and the panhandlers moved to the outer areas.

    Homelessness/vagrants are a national problem.  One of the ongoing wildfires in Colorado, by Carbondale, was started by an illegal campfire being used by two homeless from Alabama.  Each area is going to have to decide what to do and quit studying the problem.  The extreme example of doing nothing has resulted in Seattle’s proposing $1 million to build a fence around their homeless encampment, “The Jungle”.  Escape From New York’s Manhattan prison comes to mind.

  6. Avatar David M. Kerr says:

    Have the homeless and petty criminals lived here since they last attended high school?  Where were they hiding when I looked at Redding in 2004?

    I don’t think they are like medieval peasants who live their lives in the same village.  They are probably just as highly mobile as the rest of Americans.  I suspect that many have lived elsewhere in California in the last ten years.  The gangs who prey on drug addicts and the homeless are much tougher looking in Sacramento, Stockton, Oroville, Marysville, Eureka, etc.

    The newspaper, Chief Paoletti and homeless advocacy groups would have us believe they are “locals”.  That implies there is nothing we can do to make Redding less attractive.  That also implies they will live here for the rest of their lives.

    The recent well publicized survey asked the wrong question.  They should have asked, “where does your mother live” and “where did you last attend high school”?

    I would like to see Sacramento and surrounding counties offer housing first, greatly expanding the number of section 8 housing vouchers.  Redding’s homeless and petty criminals would go there if they got a better deal, especially if they had the safety of being in housing provided by the taxpayer.

  7. Avatar Rod says:

    NO, Randy, we’re not on the edge of anarchy.  And doing nothing is not an option.

    Government grows endlessly while peace in America evaporates.  That’s the opposite of anarchy.

    It’s a funny thing about peace, it’s  very difficult to establish and ridiculously easy to break.  Blessed are the peacemakers.

    We’re being overloaded by stagnation, the status quo is allowing a once great nation to melt into a society-wide depression.  It’s ok to do nothing because good answers to problems are easier talked about rather than enacted.  So we vote or spend public money on feel-good crap from our obese government.  Replacing 100% of current government employees with workers who actually do work, is a starting point.

    The American pyramid scheme based upon racial, economic, and clergy need a sound flush.  Their leadership is no longer working for the family people nor outliers of society.  The rich get richer and the poor continue to get poorer.  We’re actually at the edge of a 2 class American society,  middle class is disappearing.

    The folks who have shared the dream of being an American in order to live a better life,  are nothing but fodder in the actions of the wealthy government and it’s privileged  employees.  We’re not the same nation who founded the ideal that all men are equal.  The top strata doesn’t want to share.

    It has been stated that the Mayans, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and so on…rotted from the same stagnation we have.  We previously allowed leaders to make and enact horrible laws and restrictions.  Hope isn’t a dream anymore if you’re a lower classed American.


  8. Avatar A Brady says:

    I would like Rod to look at this graphic and tell me where all this public money is that is spent on “feel-good crap”?,_2015_enacted.png

    My husband and I are retired government employees and your comment about that category of American is totally uncalled for. Just like every group, there are those that don’t pull their weight, but they are in the minority.

    Sounds like Rod wants to tax the rich so things are “fair”– I can get behind that.

    Amazing that during the economic meltdown this country suffered at the end of the Bush Reign, I do not remember people like Rod and Randy speaking out. Maybe I was busy (doing my government job) and missed it.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      A Brady, I too am a retired public employee, school district, and I have found those that rant against us couldn’t get a public job because of two reasons.  Despite the naysayers not only do public employees have to work as hard as private workers but we also have to deal with everybody who thinks they are our boss where private employees only have their superior to answer too.  The second reason is they couldn’t pass the drug test.

  9. Avatar Jeff Gore says:

    As much as we may prefer to silence panhandlers, their speech is protected under the 1st amendment just like everyone else’s.  When challenged, ordinances like Medford’s are always struck down and have cost various municipalities hundreds of thousands of dollars in court fees & settlements (in addition to their own legal costs).  Some examples:


    Comite de Jornaleros v. City of Redondo Beach

    Clatterbuck v. City of Charlottesville

    Reynolds v. Middleton

    Speet v. Schuette




  10. Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

    OK, people. Keep it civil. No ad hominem attacks.

  11. Avatar jobs says:

    No amount of giving will every change a crazy druggie.  To many are using the crazy druggies too enrich themselves.  You could build them the finest newest houses in Shasta county only to see them trash it in less than a year.  People have little respect for free stuff.   You can give them $3,000.every month for life but you know they would still be broke at the end of the every month.

  12. Avatar Debra Atlas says:

    Randy ‘ s suggestions are commsense. It really is time for a lot of that, as well as consistent and regular action.

  13. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Sucks being the end of the line.

  14. Avatar Joanne Lobeski-Snyder says:


    We have an expanding population  (as many and more babies born each year as during the “baby boom”) We have fewer living-wage manual labor jobs as those provided by the lumber industry and Simpson Paper Mill.


  15. Avatar name says:

    It would be interesting to know exactly what % of the homeless population actually chooses that life, rather than being forced in to it.  There are a good many that would gladly take the handouts, the free food, lodging, etc. – but they would not be willing to give up anything in return.  They will not want to comply with any restrictions on drugs, alcohol, weapons, dogs, etc.  It is easier to just live a street hustle than be confined and have to conform to a certain program.  I am not lumping all of the homeless into this category – but I would bet that the percentage is a lot more than the well intentioned solutions providers realize…