Redding’s New Normal is Unacceptable

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I drove through the Home Depot parking lot Monday on my way to pick up some varnish for my newly restored Douglas fir floors when I saw a 30-ish looking woman – filthy leathery skin, torn pants and blouse – changing clothes behind a rental truck. Strewn on the ground around her were soot-colored blankets and clothes.

Cars like mine passed by, driven by people like me who appeared unfazed.

On my return trip into the downtown Redding area, I saw a scruffy, thin, bald, bare-chested dirty guy who looked in his 20s riding a bike in the scorching sun. Worse yet, on the back of the bike was an infant seat that held a shirtless, hat-less toddler, his chin resting on his small chest as the man sped down Market Street.

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There was a time I would have called 911 to report that scene as child endangerment.

I did nothing.

A few hours later, on Pine Street, a skinny, bald, heavily tattooed man with a stained backpack knocked hard on the passenger window of a parked pickup as the two women inside shook their heads no, no, no. The women looked horrified.

I was glad he wasn’t pounding on my window.

In the last few years, I’ve seen things in this town I never would have believed possible; things that at first shocked me. Now, I consider these scenarios evidence of Redding’s new normal.

I’ve seen people who resemble the walking dead drop their pants, squat and defecate on the downtown post office lawn and in the brush at the entrance of the Shopko parking lot. I saw a couple having sex in an alley in broad daylight. I’ve seen people rummaging through trash, and searching gutters and sidewalks for cigarette butts. I’ve seen people zombied out on heroin, or tweaking from meth.

There are the physical similarities: missing teeth, sunburned skin, sores, filthy clothes, matted hair, floppy shoes or no shoes; byproducts of neglect, addiction, poverty and exposure to the elements. They remind me of wild-eyed peasants depicted in Old World paintings that illustrate a chaotic market scene with snarling feral dogs, crazed old women and enraged men fighting over hunks of meat, all done in blacks and browns and grays so oppressive that you can almost smell the rot and hopelessness and poverty.

Lately, perhaps because of crackdowns on illegal encampments, I’ve noticed transients on bikes hauling Volkswagen-sized carts piled high with chairs, bedding, buckets and all kinds of stuff. At daybreak, it’s not unusual to see people sleeping on the ground in the middle of an empty parking lot. And perhaps you’ve noticed a group of transients who have claimed the steps of Black Bear Diner headquarters on Shasta Street as if it’s their headquarters.

I’ve adapted. For example, if I’m driving and am stopped at a light or stop sign and see someone who looks like a transient in the vicinity, I lock my doors, though I confess, I feel embarrassed and hope they don’t hear the click of locks.

I drive more defensively than ever, because many transients have taken to aimlessly walking – stumbling – staggering – across traffic as the crow flies, seemingly oblivious to crosswalks or traffic signals. Some are obviously high, or maybe they’re mentally ill, or physically sick or all of the above.

I leave nothing of value in my car, even when it’s locked. When I park my car, especially somewhere like a movie theater or restaurant, where I know I’ll be gone for a while, I choose my parking place to be as visible as possible.

For lack of a more precise term, I’ll call these people transients, although the term “homeless” probably fits, too, along with many other words, like addicts or criminals. Some are purely victims of circumstance like illness, job loss or financial or personal catastrophe.

I recognize “regulars” – like the guy with the beard who sits crossed legged on the lawn by the empty newspaper racks at the downtown post office where I’ve seen him pour water from a small plastic bottle over Top Ramen, stir it and eat it cold. He’s there nearly every weekday. Nearby, on a shady patch of lawn in front of the post office, is a tiny grubby woman and a few equally grubby guys who hang together. That group collectively smells so strongly of bodily waste that I have trained myself to hold my breath as I pass by them.

In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a newcomer around town, a short woman – sunburned, wild chopped dry hair, who lugs cumbersome bags in each hand as she trudges along Benton or Market or Court. Where is she going? More important, where is she from? What happened to that woman to bring her to this dire station in life? Is there anything she could have possibly done wrong to deserve this life? I look at her, day after day, week after week, and wonder what keeps her going.

Likewise, there’s an older woman with long gray hair who wears layers of clothing as she pushes a shopping cart and is often near the Eureka Way Starbucks.

It was at that particular Starbucks this week where I was working on my laptop inside the crowded coffee shop when I noticed a grimy middle-aged man walk in and sit down at a table. He had what looked like a single bill – maybe a dollar –  in his hand. From across the room I saw a Starbucks employee quickly approach the man. I heard her ask him to leave. She said something like he’d already left one cup of water outside, which made no sense to me, but then perhaps there was a lot I didn’t know about that situation.

I found myself fighting back tears at the sight of him leaving the air conditioned Starbucks and heading out into the heat of the day. Where would he go? How did he get here?

I don’t know. But then, there’s so much I don’t know.

But this is what I do know: I feel powerless to do anything to change this situation, so I’ve adapted by trying to un-see what’s before my very eyes. It’s not working, because the sight of these people is getting harder to ignore.  In fact, the sight of them hurts my heart, because I’m aware that no matter how they got to where they are now, they’re living human beings subsisting in a way that our society wouldn’t condone appropriate for a dog.

But I’m a realist, too. I sympathize with businesses that have adapted, too, with spiked fences and even concertina wire and lots of metal.

prison fence

Burger King hands out tiny rest room tokens for customers only to insert in heavy chrome locking mechanisms. Retail stores have carts with either automatically locking wheels or tall poles that won’t fit through doors, which is a major inconvenience for paying customers. Businesses shell out money for security guards, surveillance cameras and alarms.

You can bet that nowhere in any MBA program is there a class that teaches how to shovel shit, needles and puke from a business storefront.

This hits close to home, because I recently ordered not one, but two security systems for my new home. Better safe …

An acquaintance said her grown out-of-town kids follow the crime on various Redding Facebook pages and are so convinced Redding is an unsafe city that they have vowed to never visit again.

The thing is, with few exceptions, I don’t usually fear these walking-dead people. Most of them look so tired and lethargic that they don’t look like they have the energy to be a real threat. In fact, I wonder and worry about many of them, and I can’t help but feel the glaring contrast between their lives and luxuries I enjoy in my life:  my air conditioned car and money to buy food at a time of life when my most pressing concern is getting a low bid for my new ducting system and hoping my building permit is approved soon so I can resume my home’s remodeling project.

Even so, as a longtime Redding resident doing my level best to adjust to this not-so-new normal, I’m a whirling dervish of emotions. On the one hand I feel angry and fearful about shattered car windows, home break-ins and retail smash-and-grabs. On the other hand I feel disgusted and disappointed that I can’t take my grandchildren to the park or library without walking the gauntlet of transients. I resent that I must think twice before going to the river trail at dawn or dusk, the only two cool times of our summer days.

Redding residents struggle for solutions, some of which may be well-meaning but, in my opinion, misguided, such as demanding a recall of two city council members, something I see as no more effective than shooting the messengers. Other residents are getting their CCW permits, or are like me, and are investing in home security systems.

Finally, there are those Redding residents who’ve given up, and have packed up and moved away, or plan to leave as soon as possible. I get that, because at some point, if you can’t solve the problem, and you lack confidence that leaders have the will, a plan or the power to turn things around, it’s probably time to leave, rather than stay and become increasingly bitter, disillusioned and disappointed.

You know, love it or leave it.

Meanwhile, on this day in Redding when it may reach 117 degrees, I’m haunted by the image of that toddler on the back of the man’s bike, and the elderly woman trudging with the shopping bags, and the young woman changing clothes in the Home Depot parking lot, and on and on the list goes.

But I’m also haunted by the loss of the Redding I used to know. I wonder if there’s any way to raise this city from the dead and give it new life, or is Redding a lost cause.

Either way, considering the fact that Redding’s a ticking time bomb and the residents are growing increasingly restless, now would be an excellent time for our elected officials and appointed leaders to actually to lead us out of this mess.


Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as 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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314 Responses

  1. Avatar conservative says:

    The housing bubble was so seductive to both political parties.  Men could work for four hours on a framing crew or pouring concrete before they started drinking, fighting, smoking pot and driving away from the jobsite peeling rubber.  They were paid cash and moved from contractor to contractor when child support enforcement found them.  Many could not hold an entry level job which requires an 8 hour shift.  These men were very unguarded describing their view of work.  One told me his “jonesing” got stronger as the day went on until he had to leave.

    The work is simple and repetitive.  The task of framing a door or window on a 9 ft. wall after being told how to do it hundreds of times is beyond them.  They did not want to learn more than was necessary and did not want to learn enough to get their own license.

    Ten years ago, housing bubble states had a large number of marginally attached men who at least were somewhat productive and supported themselves if not their children.

    • Avatar marty c says:

      I have no pity for an industry that is drenched in chauvanism. You have a potential work source that would stay in one spot and remain faithful to the job, but for some reason ‘women can’t do that’ is stamped in stone somewhere in your industry by laws….strange even in nature the female of the species is the home builder.

      • Avatar Justin Donovan says:

        There is no law that prevents women from being construction workers. Women are good at interior design, but they wilt in the harsh conditions of building a house.

        • Avatar cheyenne says:

          Climb Wyoming, a non-profit organization, has trained thousands of single mothers in the trades from welding to framing and even CDL trucking.  They also aid in helping these mothers in getting off any substance abuse and making them self sufficient on their own.  The men in their lives are absent because they “wilted” under the pressure of raising a family which is harder than any construction job.  This is a program that works.

    • Avatar jim smith says:

      everybody complains about the problem, but nobody wants to do anything to fix the problem

  2. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    “The cure for fear is faith.”  Yet because individual responsibility has been entirely replaced by entitled rights, there will be no solution coming from government, not in California.  New York City fixed itself, but things and attitudes are different there.  May be like the addict, when we finally hit bottom, there will come the collective will to rearrange priorities and pensions, spend money on cleaning up our messes and making our village a better place. Meantime, it’s business as usual, a curious downward spiral in one of the most exceptionally beautiful places on earth.

  3. Randall R Smith Randall R Smith says:

    BTW, of some interest perhaps is this story conveyed yesterday by wonderful Officer Brannon.  He was interviewing a new arrival, female as you describe: young, sunburned, dirty, aimless.  She said she had found a way to come to Redding from Florida.  People there are unfriendly, they do not hand money out of car windows, they constantly move folks from public places and businesses.  There are bugs and thugs and no support services.  It’s an anecdote, but the word is out, Redding is IN.  We are harvesting the ground we have sown.

    • Avatar Casey Rodgers says:

      More like, California is in. In the late 70’s early 80’s I worked for a bank in Oroville, a young woman came in to open an account. My queation to her “whst brought you to California?”.  Her response, “it is easier to get welfare here.”.

      Our family moved to the Redding are in 2000. All I heard when we arrived was how many jail and prisln releasees are brought to the area.  So, I don’t think all of this is anything new. There is a crackdown on homeless camps so now they just move around the city more freely.  Thankfully, we fled the area this year. Things

  4. Avatar conservative says:

    The Record Searchlight and homeless advocacy groups claim they are living in their hometown.  A sociologist who spent five minutes interviewing them would find they are not “locals” as Chief Paoletti called them on KCNR.  A sociologist would find they last attended school somewhere else.  They have resided in many places and the majority of the last ten years were spent elsewhere.  They did not attend school here.  Their mother does not live here.

    Many conservatives describe liberals as people who believe that one more tax increase will solve the problems.

    Some marginally attached workers have discovered car theft is a way to support their habits.  Every car in the Crown Motors lot has a Lojack sticker in the window.  Activation costs the buyer about $1,000.  About half the stolen cars are never recovered.  I suspect there are chop shops at the end of gravel roads in rural Shasta County and semi-trailers where stolen cars and loaded, to be sent via the container port of Oakland to other countries.

    The ChicoER reports that the car theft problem is just as bad there.  It is a statewide problem.  It would be good if RPD or the Sheriff could bust a few chop shops or car theft operations.

    I am very pessimistic about the obesity epidemic.  People alive today will be living shorter lives than their parents.  The homeless and crime epidemic is just as ominous as the obesity epidemic.  For every person who loses weight, there are ten who surrender to compulsive overeating.  When I see someone I haven’t seen in five years, they almost always have let themselves go and are ten+ pounds heavier.  Redding has become the refuge of unemployable young people and people of working age who have learned how to use the welfare state and underground economy.

    • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

      “Many conservatives describe liberals as people who believe that one more tax increase will solve the problems.”  I’m sure many liberals call conservatives morons, but that’s not what is being discussed here.  You’re rambling.

  5. Avatar cheyenne says:

    A story going around, pointed out by a poster on Anews, is the Facebook account of the Cheyenne Police Department asking people not to give to panhandlers.  The CPD have been demonized for this, just check the comments left on their Facebook page, but the individual that was the point of their post was one of those who would go out to cars while they were stopped at the Carey and 17th stoplight and pound on the car window.  That is not panhandling, that is strong arm robbery.  He was lucky they only arrested him for vagrancy.  It is summer now and the hobos/walkers/homeless are appearing on the streets of Cheyenne.  The CPD not only has sworn officers doing foot patrol but their volunteer officer group does too.  This keeps the homeless problem at low level.  But, unlike Redding, when winter hits most of the homeless will leave Cheyenne for warmer areas.

  6. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    I can certainly understand people wanting to live in gated communities.  Too bad Redding as a whole can’t be gated.  I shake my head at the group attempting to recall two Council members.  What are they thinking?  Spending $200,000 on a recall vote for what?  Why single out these two Councilors?  Better that they join the Guardian Angels if they are serious about cleaning up Redding or convincing the Council to turn Stillwater into a homeless camp and gate that.  I would like to see some tables around town for people to sign a petition against the recall.

    • Avatar CoachBob says:

      I did a hard U-turn at Lake Redding Park in order to sign the petition. Glad I did. Gotta send a message.

      • Avatar Justin says:

        I would sign your petition Bev.  I understand the sentiment behind the recall, but the approach is terrible.

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          I guess I could set up a table, but since I can’t vote in Redding (we have a house here but our primary residence is Eastern County), I guess so a registered Redding voter will have to do the deed.  I’ll supply the table!

    • Avatar Damon Miller says:

      Dressing up in bloused trousers and cute berets doesn’t actually do anything.

    • Avatar Judi Carter says:

      I think Stillwater would be a good start. Put dumpsters, Portable bathrooms and a water truck so that they can wash themselves. Have Raba bus going to and from town.

  7. We’ve watched things change a lot over the past 20 years. However, I also follow the FB page for Chatsworth – the quiet LA suburb where I grew up — and I am reading the SAME complaints – transients, crime, residents fed up. I think it’s a California problem and not specifically a Redding problem – because I’ve seen it in San Francisco, Sacramento and LA.

    As for what to do? I wish I had any idea.

    • Avatar W.Murphy Weirich says:

      Leave the first republik of Kalifornia. The states legislated and voter approved propositions governing law enforcement, classification of “violent” criminality and the jurisprudential latitude given to judges and correspondingly taken away from the local DA, is ruining the state – one hit of meth / crime at a time. Do some research. We are heading downhill fast. What we are seeing, and I saw it in Redding this past summer in Caldwell Park during a family visit to my hometown, sickened me. Its not going to get better, before it gets worse. Find states that believe in law enforcement. They exist. Kalifornia is not one of them.

      • Avatar T.i.m. says:

        Just don’t be surprised if you’re not welcomed with open arms

        • Avatar wmw says:

          We now know four (4) different couples that have left, Oregon being one of the transplants’ new location (Southern, OR).  Things are going exceptionally well for all four couples.  Things are going exceptionally bad here, in used to be great California.  I’ll vote with my feet and my pocketbook, thank you.   You can always find crap, anywhere.  Living in the middle of it in commie Kalifornia, well …..   and you can always read what you agree with, and reinforce what you already believe.     That is the rule, right?  I’ve lived in other states already.   Acceptance was never an issue, even in Utah.  LOL

        • Avatar cheyenne says:

          tim, did you read the story and comments on your link?  I doubt it or you would have a different response.

          • Avatar T.i.m. says:

            Um, yeah?  Seems about what I’d expect.  1/2 expressing sympathy, 3/8 with minor gripes about Californians not following Oregon laws, and 1/8 militant “go home” types.

            You see the same thing in Texas, Tennessee, Colorado, etc.  Californians are the new Okies…

  8. Avatar Gwen Lawler Tough says:

    “When I see someone I haven’t seen in five years, they almost always have let themselves go and are ten+ pounds heavier. Redding has become the refuge of unemployable young people and people of working age who have learned how to use the welfare state and underground economy.” I agree. My husband and I just returned from a visit to Coeur d’Alene Idaho and what a refreshing visit it was. Public parks with many families and no homeless people accosting you or doing their private business in public. It was a real wake-up call as to what Redding has become. What is the answer? Our “elected officials” clearly don’t have it. It is complex, just like the problems. On the other hand, if allmof our resources are spent on the “homeless” what about those working class people who are struggling mightily to make it? They don’t panhandle because they are too exhausted from working sometimes two or three jobs to support their family. What about them? They are NOT SEEN.

    • Avatar amanda says:

      I agree Gwen. My younger sister is a single mother with two jobs (one at the hospital and one taking care of disabled patients in their homes). This means she barely sees her children.

      She suffered a terrible accident a few years ago where she suffered a broken neck and lost her 4 month old son. Everyday she’s in physical pain as well. She doesn’t complain. She doesn’t use drugs. She gets up every day and works hard. She could use help.

      But there isn’t any for her.

      But yes…let’s all throw bills out the window at panhandlers.


      • Avatar Kelli says:

        I have a friend that has come out of the drug/river camping/pan handling scene. He’s left California and doing well for a man that is 34 years old and has worked for the past 12 months, the ONLY and FIRST time he has EVER worked! Pan handlers, if you didn’t know, actually do pretty well for themselves. Some days they can bring in as much as $300! Redding, just like other places, has many well-meaning people with hearts that hurt to see the tragedies before them. Sadly, it’s very difficult to tell the difference between truly hurting and needy persons and those who are seeking to take advantage of good hearted people.

        I don’t think this idea would be an end all, but what if, instead of handing out money (potentially to buy one more fix), we hand out what may be more helpful: clothing; sleeping bags; food; hygiene; or, a small piece of candy, toy, sunscreen, etc for the poor child (a little smile with love behind it could affect a child’s life). We can’t ignore the problem. These are real people, with real blood running through their veins. Throwing money at a problem has never solved anything for very long; it’s just like a junkie – they always need another fix. Getting through to the other side is painful, just ask any recovering addict.

        We can do it, though! Let’s not worry about the rest of California, let’s just take care of our own beautiful piece of heaven. LET’S TAKE REDDING BACK!!!!!

        • Avatar Kelli says:

          I’m not being disagreeable with you, Amanda. I didn’t actually mean to “reply” to your post. I was simply trying to post something. Apparently, I did it wrong. Lol, sorry.

        • Avatar Kelli says:

          Btw, I understand that Redding, or Shasta county, has agreements set up with other counties in California, to receive their parolees. Typically, if you are imprisoned from a certain county, you are released to that same county. However, even before prop 47 hit us, we would get 10-15k a head, depending on the crime, to have numerous parolees dropped off downtown with, if they’re lucky, $200 bucks to their name. A man’s gotta do, right? Prison isn’t about rehabilitation, not in California, anyway! What did the Redding leaders think would happen with this scenario?

          • Avatar T.i.m. says:

            Redding getting paid to receive out of area felons as widely believed, and just as untrue, as death after drinking soda with pop rocks.

  9. NEVER give $$ to transients. YOU ARE SUPPORTING THEIR VICES. My husband and I lived on South and Pine Street where we helped 100s of people get off the streets in Redding. Why do people in Redding give $$. Give water, food and love. But never give your $$.

    • Avatar Audra says:

      I agree! Before I became a single mom I would hand out “Blessing Bags”. They would have granola bars, water, deoderant, soap, a washcloth, a toothpaste and toothbrush. Most of them were travel-sized, but it was what I could do. Now, as a single mom, with almost no assistance, I can’t afford to do this anymore. Maybe someone reading this will use the money they would have handed out to make bags instead.

  10. Avatar Kim Hanagan says:

    I work in downtown Sacramento…here I walk past mentally ill folks or really drunk folks sprawled on the sidewalk… every single time I walk two blocks from work. The meth users aren’t as prevalent or as visible as in Redding. It doesn’t feel as scary for some reason. Bottom line… It’s in our face every direction we turn. At some point something has to be done, or at least tried.

  11. Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

    It’s so strange to see this article today, when I was just thinking this morning about how Redding seems to have shifted its ballast.  What used to feel like perhaps Redding was on a path to something great, suddenly feels like a popped bubble.  For me, it’s a combination of the vanished food truck idea and the demolition of the Dobrowski house.  Interesting ideas and beauty are crushed yet again.

    Some people who form the core of my life are either (a) moving away, (b) thinking about moving away, (c) biding their time until they move away or (d) feeling like they’re trapped here forever.

    Is failure Redding’s default setting?  Is that our permanent baseline?  I was born and raised here, and I hate feeling this way, but even my sunny side-up nature can’t shake the idea that maybe things won’t ever get better.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Matt, has the plan for a food court truck court in fact gone away? I thought it was only delayed.

      • Avatar Matt Grigsby says:

        I honestly don’t know, but the fences came down and the last I heard they were working on getting permits and whatnot.  I translated that as “probably never going to happen.”

      • Avatar Jeff says:

        I believe that they have moved their efforts to Anderson, which is more receptive to them.

    • Avatar Suzanne says:

      Matt, I hear you. It feels like positive change and new ideas are not embraced or encouraged in Redding. I wish it was different. As for Food Truck Park… (I own Carousel next door to Carnegie Park) and the last I heard, as soon as the ABC license protests are over, they can continue as planned. I am hopeful this idea will actually come to life, maybe in the late fall?

    • Avatar Damon Miller says:

      There’s nothing stopping him from opening a food truck corral right now. The issue is what he really wants to open is a beer garden and the food trucks are merely incidental to the beer.

  12. Avatar Kitty conners says:

    Thank you doni, you wrote what I have been feeling for awhile.  Two of my kids have left and I don’t think  the last one is far behind.  My family settled here in 1850, I wonder what they would think of redding now?  What went wrong with the city, how would they handle it.  We could leave our cars unlocked any where and the worst that would  happen would be a bag of zucchini in your car.  Cameras check, locked gates check,  dogs check and still fear… even outside city limits.  With my kids scattered to the winds where do we go? Right now I still want to believe things will change. And redding will be the place to go again but I fear that’s not the case.

  13. Avatar Richard Christoph says:

    There is much to be said about this topic as well as the proposed recall and the failure of Measure D, but instead a reminder of this evening’s “National Night Out”  at City Hall (6:30 pm)  may be more productive. This is an opportunity to engage with City leaders, fellow Redding citizens, and our elected officials in seeking solutions to our shared problems.

  14. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    Everyone who’s lived here a long time seems to agree Redding has gotten worse the past decade. What two things changed during that time period?

    1: 2007-2017 Great Recession. Do you really think Redding has recovered? Or the country for that matter? No. The same economic reports Trump was attacking as horrible last year or now deemed signs of winning. Rural cities like Redding have been abandoned in favor of the big cities by the highly monopolized tech industries. So don’t expect economic growth to help us grow out of this problem.

    2. AB 109 and other criminal justice reforms: Well-meaning liberals, concerned about inhumane conditions and high cost, embarked on a statewide decarceration program, reducing penalties for low level supposedly nonviolent criminals, without really providing a plan to provide any meaningful transition services for said criminals into society.

    How do we solve this? We do the opposite of what the recall campaign wants. We get the city and the county to work together, along with the state, to get the services–and extra jail space–we need to address this issue. The city and county are already working on this, it just needs to be more focused, perhaps have a single point-person in charge of it, and we’re going to have to raise revenue to do it, it’s the only way the state will play with us.

    Ask a recall person how they voted on the last two proposed sales tax increases in Redding  before you sign that petition.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      RE: 2.

      “Assembly Bill (AB) 109 and AB 117…is the cornerstone of California’s solution for reducing the number of inmates in the state’s 33 prisons to 137.5 percent of design capacity by June 27, 2013, as ordered by the Three-Judge Court and affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

      Why is almost everything at A News Cafe broken into “Well-meaning liberals” or GD liberals and/or negative adjectives attached to the word “conservative?” It is like an elementary school yard were all the kids call each other names. Get a grip. PLEASE!

    • Avatar Alan says:

      Redding is bad because while it has one of the lowest costs of living in California, it is still crazy high compared to job pay because it is California, and the rest of California needs tax dollars as well as tax-recyclers (government workers). By this state paying its unionized government employees 3-4 times what their job would pay to equally or better qualified people if they were all fired and the jobs put out to bid on Craigslist, you build a “false economy.” Then, eager realtors will gladly do what they do… try their best to jack-up prices as quickly and high as they possibly can even when there is no productive private industry in an area to warrant it. And so it follows you have an area where if retirees who sold their city home for big bucks to move here are excluded, a very high percentage of homes are owned by government workers who rent them out  believing rents should reflect their overpriced mortgage and that it’s no problem because they know how much all their co-workers mak, and after all the liars… erm, I mean “realtors” doing the “property management” told them the absolute most they should charge for rent… and the cycle builds to another bubble withe the banks getting in on it too. This is a nationwide (even worldwide) problem for sure, but it’s going to show worst in small towns in leftist states that also have many wealthy people living in the largest cities. Plus, we become their “transfer stations” for “human refuse” when they drop them off in our towns. What if some concerned citizens chartered a few busses and dropped them off in the Financial District or Marin County, Newport Beach, La Jolla or the Capital Steps? Would Sacramento do more then? In what way? More of the same things that aren’t working? We need government that works for Shasta County, we need State of Jefferson. Of course Sacramento would never let that happen because we’d have all their water! I wonder if the Supreme Court could take the decision out of California’s hands and let the citizens who would make up Jefferson vote and decide?

      • Avatar Pam says:

        Well you seem to not understand that even if you get your own state the water is federal. It was meant for agriculture not for recreation. congress must approve a new state and they can not even show up more than 120 days and all they want in to drag us back 50 yrs. maybe all you state of Jefferson people could by a island and move to it.

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          Thank you, Pam, for pointing out what I’ve been saying to myself since the State of Jefferson movement began: it’s not our water; Shasta Dam is federally owned, and the feds allocate the water. The State of Jefferson government would have to deal with the feds.

  15. Avatar Brandon says:

    Homelessness, drug addiction and untreated mental illness is an American problem, not just a Redding problem. Check out the newspaper of any mid sized to small city in America. Conservative Republican polices do nothing to solve the issue, and the non-profits and faith-based organizations can’t solve it alone. A solution is public-private partnerships where Government agencies work with faith based and non-profits to get work done.

    • It’s true,  Brandon. Imagine if society invested in our human infrastructure and addressed on a national level mental illness, addiction, education and poverty.

      I believe many of the addiction issues boil down lack of self-worth and the absence of a feeling of productively and community connection.  That’s why just throwing food and services at the homeless has never appealed to me. It keeps them alive, but it gives them nothing to live for. It’s like the barest minimum of life support, without the tools to climb out of the hole and move onto a higher level to achieve satisfaction and life purpose.

    • Avatar Jess Lugo says:

      You nailed it.  Mental Health is at the center of it all, and unfortunately our hospitals and jail are being used to treat addicts and true mental health patients and ultimately are not set up for this.   Our jail has been undersized for our population for over 15 years, and the County has not come up with a plan to address this.  Jail capacity is also at the center of the issues.  Some of these individuals quite frankly, belong in jail.   The prison realignment shifted that responsibility to the County Jails, however our jail cannot handle the influx.  That is the bigger story — When are the leaders (aka County) going to address Jail Capacity and Mental Health (a true facility), it is here to stay, we all need to roll up our sleeves and make some bold decisions on how to address this.  The Redding’s “New Norm” isn’t going away without some out of the box thinking!

  16. Avatar Grammy says:

    Along with ten security cameras we also have cameras in our car/truck. Drive home west at 4:30 and you risk hitting a homeless crossing the street (and they never look to see what is coming) to check in at the Good News Mission.
    For those of us who raised our families here in the Redding we loved, we wanted our children to go to college. College graduates Do NOT come back to Redding. Employers here in Redding will say that things are cheaper in Redding therefore they offer less pay. Not so. Food, electricity, housing (equal) all is equal or higher. We do not have a Whole Foods, discount grocery store on the west side, safe streets, crime free living, good internet in the out lying areas, consistent cell phone service, and more important a positive out-look on life in Shasta County. There is just to much negativity here. So many people just do not seem to have pride in their community anymore here.

    • Avatar trek says:

      You made some good hearted wholesome  points Grammy but one sticks out pretty evident too me. You write, “Employers here in Redding will say that things are cheaper in Redding therefore they offer less pay.” Shasta County and COR management are still trying desperately to make “you” the tax payers believe you have to pay their large salaries and benefit packages  along with new hire management employee’s so “you” can get qualified people in management positions. Pay that equates to much larger cities and vastly different life styles. It’s time to roll back salaries to what the area can afford. What would happen if say, 500 people stood up for the county and/or city and demanded change? Redding is crowding 100k people, what if 5,000 people stood up or 10,000 people stood up? Meanwhile fences get taller and stronger, security cameras are installed but are you a prisoner of your home or not?

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Your point about public salaries is well-taken. But who’s gonna win an election on lowering local government salaries … when local government is one of the leading employers?

        • Avatar trek says:

          Gov. and city management have kept their bank ball rolling and until the people get so pissed off and stand up for themselves nothing will change. We keep reading where their pension funds are unsustainable but yet we keep reading about salary increases for which they themselves vote to one another. 10,000 pissed of Reddingnites will send a message but yet it just hasn’t effected their life style……yet.

      • Avatar KATHLEEN RAVEN SURBAUGH says:

        Completely agree.  Redding = red-neck burg with airs!

  17. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    I watched one of my favorite science fiction movies from my youth the other day, Soylent Green. When I first watched that movie in 1973, homelessness as a norm seemed, well, so fictional.

    It no longer seems so fictional.

    I vacillate between sympathy, resentment, and a hopeless kind of sorrow.

  18. Avatar Common Sense says:

    There is no “Single” Solution to do a 180 on this topic. The homeless/Drug problems are across the Country…not just Redding. Giving Money to someone on a Corner is more than likely feeding a continual Drug Habit… can’t help those that do not want to help themselves…..So what Caused this Situation over the years?

    #1. People Feel Disconnected-#1 reason people turn to drugs….

    #2. Economic down turn followed by the Middle Class has Shrunk. We have the Haves…and the Have nots now.

    #3. Drugs are much cheaper than they used to be!..Heroin is substantially cheaper than 10 years ago! Once hooked on it the vicious cycle continues…car window broken to get a 3.99 item to sell for the next fix.

    If we can solve these Three problems… WILL make a Huge difference……

    Good paying Jobs…….helping people get connected again….to themselves and others…..make some progress on the REAL drug problems…and it’s Not MJ.I have never seen a stoner bang on a car window with wild glazed eyes demanding money…..

    We can thank the crack down on Cannabis/MJ over the years for the Heroin problem…..the Cartels moved away from MJ years ago and into harder drugs flooding the streets…..they go where the money is……used to me in MJ…now it’s the much harder drugs….

    • Avatar Common Sense as well says:

      “The homeless/Drug problems are across the Country…not just Redding.”


      Open your eyes people. This is NOT just a Redding problem.

  19. Avatar Brent Weaver says:

    As always Doni, you write in a way that really brings into focus what many of us are feeling.  I can tell you I’ve struggled with how to balance compassion with being a realist in these challenging times.  There’s a quote from a story I read regarding a different community that is struggling with these same issues.  “A community gets exactly what it tolerates”

    While I’m convinced the issue is way more pronounced today as a result of heroin use, I do believe there are steps we can take as a community when our State representation is clearly not stepping up to the plate.  Help those who want help, but hold those who skirt the law accountable.

    The blueprint for public safety was very clear that we have nothing remotely adequate in the form of jail space, which is needed to act as a deterrent for bad behavior.  If you want to be inspired, look at the recently completed Woodlands project that the City and Northern Valley Catholic Social Services recently completed that provides affordable transitional housing with programming for job training and educational opportunities.

    As my good friend Dr. Smith alluded to, faith is needed in these times and it’s amazing how much more you appreciate the good people you know in your community who are engaging in the fight along with you.  Perhaps that is one of the shining lights in these challenging times.


    • Avatar Joyce Cannon says:

      Some great comments here!  I have been wondering what changes would occur if the people spending energies on the recall would spend time on finding solutions that make sense?

      • I think right now all suggestions for solutions are welcome.

        I think some people feel as if the recall is one way to channel their frustrations and put their energy somewhere — even if it doesn’t solve anything except causing chaos.

      • Avatar Tracy says:

        Respectfully, they in fact are. Many of them are out on the weekends cleaning up homeless encampments. They are showing up at council meetings and offering suggestions for solutions. They are most definitely searching for – and working towards – solutions to the problems that are plaguing our city.

    • Brent, thanks so much for commenting. You’re right about the balance between being compassionate and being realistic.

      I know what we’re seeing in Shasta County – not just Redding –  is a huge problem in other areas nationwide. But I keep thinking how wonderful it would be if Redding could lead the way on finding real solutions. That takes leadership and creativity, and the people are looking to you and your colleagues for answers and tangible help. No pressure. 😉

      I have faith, but it’s hard to maintain faith in the face of worsening conditions, especially if it doesn’t look as if help is on the way.


    • Avatar Kbrooke says:

      As our Mayor, what are you actively doing to ensure we get the jail and the services that we need to properly battle the issues resulting in the feeling of desperation for tax payers and business owners? In my opinion, you let all of the citizens of Redding down with your backdoor politics in hiring our new city ‘manager’ and firing the only police chief Redding has had in 20 years that cared more about our city than taking care of his buddies. Which, resulted in costing our city $150k. I am also disappointed in your response here, blaming it on needing a bigger jail. Granted, I recognize that when you were elected, you took on these serious issues, but so far, as our ‘leader’ I am very disappointed in your ability to help us.

    • Avatar Connie Koch says:

      I have been reading and hearing a lot about cities that are building tiny house communities for the homeless (see this link  If something like this could be done here as a transitional place for these people to get on their feet I bet we would see the numbers of homeless decrease.

      One of the communities was like a little village, it had a number of tiny homes, but it also had a several other buildings, an administrative office and counseling offices, a nurses or small health office, a building that provided computers and internet access for possible on line schooling, job search, etc.  The other buildings were a common kitchen to cook, laundry facility and showers.

      I believe the idea is to allow them to stay for 30 to 60 days, they must work around the property and/or show some sort of motivation to progress and further their current situation.  It is all done with the idea that they will transition into a job and housing of their own.  They need a purpose and a goal to work towards, it will not only help their self-confidence and self-esteem, there is a very good chance they will become contributing and viable members of their community!

      If our council members would vote for something like this, rather than voting themselves and other high ranking officials raises, I bet there would be enough money to at least try this.  Perhaps, the McConnell Foundation might want to get involved, or Bethel, The Rescue Mission, or any of the other services that help the homeless.  There is certainly plenty of vacant land in the surrounding areas of Redding.  If it can be done in other cities and towns there is no reason it cannot be done here in Redding.  We just need our city representatives and county supervisors to get on board with the idea and do whatever it takes to make it happen!


      • Avatar Connie Koch says:

        In addition, building the tiny homes, would put money back into our local economy, with the supplies, the labor to build them, etc.  It might even benefit having the homeless that do want to join this program to work for their tiny home.  I mentioned above about them working, that would include landscaping, janitorial, cooking, etc.  This is doable – it is being done in other cities!

        I would hope that our city leaders and county supervisors start thinking of the citizens of Shasta County instead of the all mighty dollar lining their pockets.  It is time to open up their eyes and see what is REALLY happening in the city they represent.  I think a good majority of us feel our concerns and complaints are falling on deaf ears and if a recall is in order, then let it happen.  We want people who will listen to our concerns and act on it, not waste taxpayer dollars on paying outside consultant firms big money to do research, etc.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        Connie Koch writes,

        “If our council members would vote for something like this, rather than voting themselves and other high ranking officials raises…”


        For the record, Redding City Council members do not vote themselves raises but are provided remuneration of $600/month for their time, energy, and work on the behalf of those they were elected to represent. Considering the frequent vitriolic attacks on these folks, it is surprising that anyone would run for public office knowing that  they will be forced to endure the accusations and verbal abuse often meted out. Though I would never seek such a position myself, I surely appreciate those whose commitment to civic duty that compels  them to sacrifice their time and effort in trying to make our town a better place.


    • Avatar Marc Carter says:

      Honestly, Mr. Weaver, from your standpoint, I’m still not seeing a plan or much direction. A delicate balance? Sure, quite understandable. But that’s an observation, not a solution. It seems you are counting on faith and the Gods to provide an answer but I’m not sure it’s a good idea to wait for that to happen.

  20. Avatar AG says:

    My husband and I were born and raised in the Redding area. We raised our son there. We owned several properties in Redding, including an investment property in the Parkview area – we hoped we could be part of this once beautiful neighborhood’s revitalization. I ran a small business, and my husband worked within the medical community.
    After years of progressively feeling less and less safe to bike on the river trail, after being accosted not once but twice at Target by two different men on two separate occasions, after witnessing a shirtless man with his pants pulled around his ankles having sex with a woman who appeared to be knocked-out drunk on the lawn in front of Carl’s Jr., after witnessing a tweaked-out woman engaging in intimate relations with a metal electrical utility box behind Redding City Hall, after witnessing a tattooed, toothless man defecating in the gutter on Pine Street, and after several car break-ins in our neighborhood, we considered packing it all up and moving out of Shasta County, away from our parents, siblings and nieces. It would be difficult and sad, but we were fed up.
    Still, we held out hope. We wanted to believe that the once beautiful and vibrant Redding community would be beautiful and vibrant again. So we attended Chief Paoletti’s meetings and city council meetings, we got involved in local crime watch organizations, and we contributed to city government. We kept telling ourselves we just needed to be involved, be patient, and have faith.
    Then two years ago four men assaulted our son, who had just graduated from high school at the top of his class. He sustained injuries that included a fractured ocular cavity, broken nose, bruised ribs and kidneys, and a head injury that included a concussion and a deep wound that extended from his temple to behind his ear. The ER doctor told us our son was lucky to escape his attackers and even luckier to be alive given where the head injury was located.
    We were told by a Redding police officer not to press charges because the group of men that attacked our son is known for this type of behavior and had a ‘wolf pack’ mentality; they would surely retaliate and possibly hurt our son worse than they had. If we stayed silent and anonymous our son would be safer.
    Our son is now safer, but he will never be the same.
    A few months after the assault, we sold everything we had worked so hard to build and moved out of Redding. Our entire family was devastated. But since moving we have not had one negative experience in our new community: no break-ins, no meth heads accosting us at Target, no witnessing sex in public places, no rushing to lock doors as soon as we get inside our cars, no watching over our shoulders as we walk into the grocery store or Starbucks. We aren’t naïve and we are not idealistic. We know that crime can and does happen everywhere. We are aware of our surroundings, as everyone should be, but we don’t have that fight-or-flight feeling when we go out to do simple, everyday activities.
    In our new community, we get to bike on the river trails with other healthy families, not the criminally inclined, backpack-toting men and women on children’s BMX bikes who have become the mascots, so to speak, of Redding. Instead of attending music festivals where witnessing a drug deal or two grown men going fisticuffs over who’s next in the beer line had become a regular occurrence, we now get to attend concerts in town center with other hard-working families who want to relax and unwind, and simply listen to good music. We get to attend farmers markets without having to worry about stepping on a used syringe as we walk across the lawn at City Hall to buy peaches and tomatoes.
    In other words, we can finally relax. We can breathe again.

    Even though we are happy in our new community, there has been some small part of us that hoped Redding would turn around so we could move back and be close to our family. But after reading your article, Doni, I think we would be better served to enjoy the good memories we have of our hometown, accept that Redding will never be the safe, friendly, and beautiful place it once was, and move on.

    • AG, this story of what you and your family – especially your son – endured in Redding literally makes me sick. I don’t even know you, and my heart goes out to you. For the sake of you, your son and your family, I’m glad you moved away to a safer place.

      Thank you for sharing this painful story. I wish you nothing but relaxing times where you can breathe and feel safe again.

  21. Avatar Dan says:

    Last week I listened speechless in disbelief as my 115 lb wife (a reincarnation of Mrs. Cleaver) recounted how she had kept two scruffy men at bay in broad daylight with the new pepper spray I gave her for her keyring in the grocery store parking lot.

    I moved to Redding almost twenty years ago after having worked in some of the most crime ridden areas of NYC, Oakland, San Francisco and Stockton. What we are seeing is nothing new, it has happened before, and can be turned around by the electorate if decisive measures are taken immediately before our home’s reputation, tourism and tax base is irreparably eroded.

    Redding’s crime rate used to reflect California averages until about 2006 when our crime rate started exploding in COMPARISON to 400+ other CALIFORNIA Cities operating under the exact same laws.

    The last ten years have shown an increase in crime, a decrease in jail beds, and a decrease in sworn and unsworn law enforcement personnel in Shasta County. Also, we have seen a flattening out in population growth during the last years. Yet despite these easy to find statistics, City Hall has been tone deaf to any suggestions to tackle these issues using common tools used successfully by City managers nationwide to reduce crime.

    Instead, it seems to me there has been a continued effort in local to endlessly “solve” City ills with consulting contracts, construction contracts, and “friends and family” hiring, perks, and raises. The LA Times did a great three part investigation of the City of Bell years ago. Google it. I think it should be required reading for every California resident of what can go wrong when you become too busy or trusting, to pay attention to local government.

    The state and federal constitutions provide one tool to fire poorly performing public “servants” without waiting for an election…recall. Before simply accepting the arguments proposed by the very subjects of the recall (and the special interests that backed their original campaigns), that it is “too expensive”. I encourage you to look at the cost in relation to the last few years expenditures (millions) on projects investigated and criticized by the grand jury. Of course, once VOLUNTEERS have gathered the needed signatures for a recall, a true civic leader could simply resign…saving ALL costs for of a recall.

    An interesting link on middle management expenditures NOT spent on fixing the City ills these last ten years.


    • I hate hearing stories like the one you tell about your wife. She must have been terrified. It’s not OK for anyone to resort to brandishing pepper spray in a grocery store parking lot.

      I know our city and county leaders see what’s happening. But I’m not so sure they have a plan. If they do, it would go a long way toward community good will if they would share it and put our minds at ease.

  22. Avatar Common Sense says:

    I agree with the majority of the comments Brent has made. WE need more or expanded Jails! We need to help those that Want to Help themselves…through more drug rehab services and outreach programs….We need to put some Teeth back into the laws and KEEP people in jail to Either….get cleaned up….and get transitioned back into society or to stay in for a long period of time. We need to help people feel connected again…connected to God…whether that be through Religion or not it doesn’t matter…if they feel connected to “Something” call it what you want….they feel better….Religion is a way to this yes…but not the only way.

    So where DO the Solutions start coming into play?…The City Needs More Money….the County Needs More Money….so Where Can they Get that? To answer that question lets look at some other areas that have come to the conclusion that More Money IS available….they Just have to Change the way they Look at things….

    The city has the option to say Yes to Prop 64 Businesses and bring in Millions in Tax Dollars….or Say no and watch more of what Doni has Written about!…Say YES to the Government Grants by Saying YES……

    There will be NO Government Grants by Saying NO to prop 64 businesses…..whether we like it or not…..Cannabis is here to stay…..and anyone that has done any research will find….it CAN help the Opiate problem…..Until you can get people connected again… you want a person on the street Mellow….or Banging on your Window like a wild animal to get his or her next Heroin fix?

    If No thing Changes……Nothing Changes… WILL get worse…….More Money in….More Services, Police and Jails…then rehab and out…..

    So if we Answer This Question….Can the City Use More Money? Yes or No?…..if the answer is YES…..then we have a Solution……might not be your “Opinion” of a great solution…but can you come up with a BETTER way to get many more millions per year into the fund to Address Doni’s concerns in her article?

    • Avatar trek says:

      Stillwater sits empty with all utilities just waiting. Build low/medium security level jail cells. A bunch of them. There is much money to be made housing out of county inmates. Saving a few for our finest of course.

    • Avatar Ol brierbush says:

      History tells me that when America was great cannibis was legal,even mandatory.

      Lets make America great again.

  23. Avatar Michelle says:

    I can contribute one reason and one fix. Only one because there are many reasons contributing to homelessness and there are many solutions. One reason is generational poverty. I was raised in poverty in a traumatic home and saw and experienced things I should not have. Lucky for me, I indignantly pronounced to my mother I was NOT living like her and saw college as an escape from my home. BUt, Those stoners and smokers from my high school struggled, some dropped out and were never able to get a job. But they found a mate and had children and some of those children were raised became 2nd generation citizens living in poverty and trauma. Those kids grew up and the cycle repeated itself and those kids from my high school class in the late 70’s now have grand children- some even great grandchildren and those little apples did not roll very far from the tree.

    Now one fix. Ok…maybe two. Education. But with education can come skills. Unfortunately, or fortunately, teachers are on the front line of the education piece. If we don’t, who can?  Who will?  I have been using restorative practices to my students for two years. My most difficult students ( 1 st grade)live in the families you describe above. (Sadly, it is true)   come in the door without social and communication skills. Until those children feel  feel loved and  accepted  they will struggle socially and communicatively. Teachers, like me are on the out front doing our best in the few hours we have. It is not easy because these kids come to us angry, hostile, hating, struggling academically, or disturbingly apathetic and then they leave the safety of our class and go back into the real world.

    Number two is a new strategy being implemented across the world (we aren’t the only city or nation with this problem!) are restorative  practices. Restorative skills are just that, teaching children how to restore an error in a friendship or a relationship, so they can fix their wrongs, making amends, apologe and forgive and happily return to their friend. Restorative practices in school are an alternative to punishment that teaches real life social and communication skills to all kids but really benefit those kids living in trauma. If we don’t expose them to  them to these tools they might  grow up to be one of the people you just described. But hopefully, we can make a difference.

    • Michelle, your solutions resonate with me. Thank you!

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Two wonderful and insightful statements Michelle.  Education and training are very important….and will come into play later in the drama….first…..we have to Start with more money….more money for more jails for more officers for more programs and education to help those that want to help themselves….

      So the Flow Chart Starts at the TOP….More Money….then Everything follows below that…..

      On the whole Drug Topic and Cannabis etc Jeff Sessions has it ALL Wrong……have you Ever Noticed that EVERY WAR we have on something we get MORE of it?…..The War on Drugs….we have more now…..the War on….fill in the blank…how about a WAR ON JOBS…WE need more of those!

      Education and training are keys to recovery…but first thing first…..we need to be Able to provide more services and build more jails and keep the folks that don’t want help and want to ruin our communities in for the duration…until THEY decide they want to change the way They do life!

      You can only help those that want to help themselves…the rest that “Choose” to do drugs and steal and break into cars and homes to feed their habits….they need time IN….and enough time IN to perhaps change their program!…Why should Society Suffer more and more each year here and everywhere because those that choose to live that lifestyle won’t change?

      It’s TIME To TAKE back our Community!!! It’s time to start saying YES…..yes to more money to work with…..yes to more options to SOLVE these problems and build a Better Community Together!

      So what would this all look like you ask?….Well, a new thought process…Just say YES…..Yes to new businesses….Yes to hundreds of new jobs being created….YES to Millions in Tax Revenues each and every year….Yes to Government Grants because we Said YES instead of NO…..

      Allowing Cannabis Businesses into Stillwater Park will create Hundreds of new decent paying jobs…..Millions in Tax Revenues for the City of Redding…’s already away from the Churches and Schools for all those that worry about that, that have not done any research…..I have yet to hear of young johnny breaking into a Cannabis Wherehouse surrounded by razor wire and fencing to get high!

      Well….it’s a shift in Consciousness….Imagine that…..we CAN say yes….the world has not fallen apart in any of the other states and cities that have said yes! The Difference…they have More Money to work with…..We Don’t… least yet…..

      Let us Focus our Energy on Solutions…..the problems….they are apparent!

      • Avatar KATHLEEN RAVEN SURBAUGH says:

        Couldn’t agree more!  Thank you!

      • Avatar Jim A. says:

        Good God man, learn how to properly use ellipsis. Also, learn to write more concisely. No one cares to read someone who just prattles on and on, who can’t go two sentences without improperly using ellipsis, especially if they’re yet another pro-pot crusader who thinks that pot will magically cure all of society’s ills.

        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          If there are more than three dots, is it still an ellipsis?

          Asking for a friend.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Thoreau notes: “I learned . . . that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, . . . he will meet with . . . success. . . . He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary. . . . In proportion as he simplifies his life, the laws of the universe will appear less complex. . . .”

          Let me guess….you think he is improper also? Jimmy….

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          So Jimmy….you are obviously an English teacher….what are prattles?

        • Avatar Judith Connaughton says:

          It is his style. This isn’t a test. It is more a creative outpouring. I hate to think that someone with something to add to the outpouring would hesitate because the style of their writing might be criticized. I could understand the thoughts expressed. I notice you are not disputing the ideas, only the format. I urge you to add to the conversation of hope and despair, of cause and effect, until solutions are found and implemented, and your community is restored. I live in a small town. I see this beginning in many, many, small and not so small towns. I want to see Redding return to the place it was that enticed my family to buy there. I want my grandchildren to experience the richness and joy of a tight knit community where they can flourish. Everyone has their own style. Let all of good will accept the offerings.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Jim “A” – The easiest thing to do in the world is to criticize… about a solution instead?

          I too was once Ignorant on the topic of Cannabis….I was over weight…..critical…..and unhappy……I feel ya….but no amount of growth or change ever happens by focusing on the negatives….only by coming up with good solutions can we move forward….

        • Avatar Marc Carter says:

          Seemingly, the message is a bit more annoying to you than CS’s sentence structure.

        • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

          Read it in the voice of William Shatner and it is entertaining.

        • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

          Read it in the voice of William Shatner–I swear it works.

  24. Avatar Sylva Norris says:

    This is has been the problem in Anchorage , AK for awhile and increasing. The Beams Café is always sending away the people and they stay on the sidewalks around the food area. There is a few other places that is open for mental health, and a few sheltered areas. Regularly they are behind businesses, camping in the woods or parks, riding the bus systems, pan handling on certain corners, and hanging around the Walmarts are some of the problems we have. Having taken Human Service classes I have been taught or told that we should go up and find out on there environment to go out and seek what is triggering the situations. They are kind hearted and willing to give what they have left.

    For example a person whom I had a conversation had an experience of willingness to give up what they had left for food and just a listening ear. She also had promised the next time she sees him I be willing to pay them back. They eventually saw the other same person back and returned a favor. She gave back what she had as in food and other needs. I use to buy sandwiches from subway and had out to them instead of money. On the holidays to make plates and hand them out. An ideal is to have top ramen or sack lunches for hand outs. This includes the information of what area do they need to get help for them to become off the streets. You will find out a lot of them are Vets that are homeless with mental problems and for us natives whom has been placed in cities that customs the life style not out of their villages.
    I just have to remember to pray for those whom are in need and as to give a life line to stop and recognize how we would want to be treated. Not ignored.

    Do remember that the high status government just needs to drop there salaries also to balance the budget as in Alaska we have given non-used buildings to give a place to stay and try to help. In process for some more opportunities of taking the homeless off the streets.

  25. Avatar Sylva Norris says:

    Use all the buildings you can not being used and offer options to become not homeless and politicians to take a decrease in salaries to be the same as everyone else.

  26. Avatar Pragmatic Solutions says:

    “I get that, because at some point, if you can’t solve the problem, and you lack confidence that leaders have the will, a plan or the power to turn things around, it’s probably time to leave, rather than stay and become increasingly bitter, disillusioned and disappointed.”

    I would say that citizens to have an alternative you did not mention when residents ‘lack confidence that leaders have the will’…recall those who are not contributing to the solution. Both Schreder & Sullivan have voted yes on numerous staff raises but say there is no money for public safety. Those council members who supported the firing of our former police chief cost our city $140,000+ in severance and accrued vacation that could have been amortized over his career. The support of Deadwater Business Park is scandalous in its ongoing drain to the city as debt service payments continue.

    Rather than move I say stay and continue to fight for a better Redding, and yes…the Recall.

  27. Avatar Common Sense says:

    If this is going to be a “Christian” Nation that doesn’t help the poor,either we have got to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we have got to acknowledge that he commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it! -S Colbert

    The Vatican is worth $35 Billion Dollars….so far they have not solved the child hunger problem there?

  28. Avatar Debra Atlas says:


    Always a pleasure to read one of your articles.

    This one saddens me. Redding was a home I was proud of. I was very sad to leave it and look forward to returning to it some day.

    I saw some of what you wrote of while I lived there – the homelessness, the hopelessness of so many who are down and out. There are no easy answers BUT there ARE solutions if the City Council and other agencies would finally agree to work together to get these programs created and implemented.

    It’s not enough to shoo people out of the open and green spaces. They need places to go, services to be offered to them and opportunities to reach for. Without all these things in place, the landscape will continue to worsen, I’m afraid to say. I can only hope that “the powers that be” wake up and recognize how pervasive these issues are and finally work to create positive solutions. No more “not in my backyard” mentality.


      Yes.  Also, start by cutting the flab from the City/County budget.  Why pay psychiatrists $100+K/year and public auditors and bureaucrats similar huge amounts?  For a city/county/region of this size & density, we should be opting for hiring people who’ve recently gotten MA’s — who’ll work for $60-75K for a 2 – 5 year commitment and then move on to bigger, greener pastures elsewhere (or live modestly, if they opt to stay.)  The real scandal is the pay we’ve forked out to people like the former police chiefs and directors of public agencies and Turtle Bay — plus their double- or triple-dip pensions.  Redirect our resources to creating LEGAL campsites with hot showers, wifi and safe lockers for those people who are obliged to live outdoors.  Organize them to police themselves with modest, dedicated supervision from compassionate young social-workers doing field work for their PhDs (again, with modest salaries of $40-50K and a commitment to stick around for 2-3 years.)  What I’m saying is just this:  Let’s stop flattering ourselves that “but for the Grace of whatever concept of a Higher Power you believe in, there go I,” doesn’t apply to each and every one of us — starting with that little toddler on the back-seat of a U.V.-exposed bike!

      I’ve never liked you, Doni.  I didn’t like Missy, either, when I was employed by the state to teach self-help skills to county activists and welfare departments.  The failure to identify with those among us who have given up is vile, in my opinion, especially when those who hold this view are public figures and members of the press.  We’re all born naked, vulnerable and needy.  That’s also how we die.  What becomes of us between those two events is partly fate and partly genes and nourishment.  Nobody does it “on their own.”  This article is pathetic.  Redding has always been a little red-neck burg with airs, in my experience (speaking as a “coast” person.  Classy people and classy places don’t try to “adapt” to watching people die of heatstroke and public malice.  And don’t you dare expunge this comment as “inappropriate.”  Nothing could be more appropriate that what I’m saying.

      • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

        Well, since you asked so nicely, we’ll keep your comment.

        You’re welcome.

        • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

          While we’re clearing the air, I gotta mention that I never liked that dang Steve Towers, because he has a Ph.D and I don’t.

          Barbara, we all know that Steve is a rather sensitive chap and will probably get all bunched up when he reads this, but please don’t delete my comment. Well, please don’t delete it unless Steve offers to buy you and your hubby a couple of beers. I don’t want to stand in the way of free beer.

          • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

            Throw in some Hawaiian BBQ and we’ll negotiate from there.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            I can’t abide dudes who do hairy-chested stuff like fly helicopters for a living.  I can’t stand dudes who have artistic talent, especially if it involves playing the guitar, which I tried and failed to master.  Put them together, and you have the kind of chick-magnet dude that I envy and despise with the white-hot intensity of a thousand suns.

            In the interest of preserving this comment, I flat-out deny that I’m talking about Hal.  (I’m busy keyboarding with my fingers, so I’m crossing my toes.)

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Sadly, I could never master playing the guitar while flying a helicopter.

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          “I’ve never liked you, Doni”.  I hope Kathleen Raven Surbaugh feels a whole lot better for having added that nugget to her post.  What’s that saying?  Something like 15 attaboys are wiped out by one ah shit.  So Surbaugh’s is your ah shit comment, Doni, but ignore it and read all the attaboys.

          I applaud you, Barbara, for leaving Surbaugh’s post, below-the-belt though it was.

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            Depending on the source, sometimes “I’ve never liked you” is a back-handed complement.

            That said, other than the heavy-handed self-righteousness (which I’m never guilty of, by the way) culminating in the wholly unnecessary bitch-slap, Kathleen is mostly on point.  If’ there’s a solution, it probably isn’t going to center on blanket naked contempt for Redding’s homeless, even if a certain fraction of them richly deserve that contempt.  (Read Cheyenne’s comments.  It’s possible to be down and out without resorting to smashing car windows for a living.)

        • Avatar cheyenne says:

          “I’ve never liked you, Doni”.

          Several years ago we had a family reunion at the Natural Bridge off Wildwood Road.  We chose that place because it had restrooms, areas the kids could explore without killing themselves, and nobody went there.  Though, on this day there was a non ending stream of cars and visitors trekking past our BBQ site.  Finally we asked somebody about this.  Their reply was they read about it in Doni’s column.  I have long forgiven Doni for writing that column and it sounds like some else could be forgiving too.

      • Avatar Steven W says:

        I’m in full agreement. This article, while good intentioned, is missing the point and just serves to reinforce existing beliefs for those who refuse to see what’s really happening here. There is no benefit to what I just read except the “revelation” that it’s happening more than here. We need actual services for those who want help. The rest can be dealt with accordingly.


        Don’t “adjust” to a new normal. Fight for your area. Redding has problems, but it is where my family is, it’s where I grew up, and it’s where my job is (just a tad higher than median income if you must know, just to be transparent as to my situation and beliefs).


        I love this area, and I refuse to give up on it. Let’s reorganize and set this on the right path instead of the incessant complaints that I see in the comments and on Facebook.

      • Avatar Carla says:

        Someone who has “recently gotten their MA” cannot do the work of a psychiatrist. They are medical doctors and along with many other medical specialities, we struggle with recruiting them here.


  29. Avatar Mike_R says:

    If you think the homeless have it easy in Redding then you are fooling yourselves. Look at Arcata, Eureka and Sac, those places are much more friendly and way more services.

    This is all over the country, small rural towns and big cities. We are recovering from an economic crisis and the “self-responsibilty” or die model isn’t working.

    I have compassion and would rather see my tax dollars go to support Americans who need help then All the coporate welfare in the world. It’s a crying shame.

    • Avatar Tom says:

      Well said, Mike_R! This is an American problem (as someone, or several someones, have already said), and we need to tackle it nationally. The economic crisis, or, more notably, 40 years of bad policy have created the mess that we see today. The redistribution of resources and wealth to the top sector have created a hopeless underclass in society, and this leads to outcomes like rampant addiction and homelessness. On a much larger scale, we need to begin to reallocate those resources to the people that need it most. As much as some despise the use of the word redistribution, redistribution is exactly what we need, to correct the massive redistribution that took place over the last four decades …

  30. Avatar T.i.m. says:

    Allow me to be the buzzkill.

    People keep longing for the “good ole days” but the truth is, they were never real. Do you think life in 2004/2005 was the norm?  Or 1999?  Or maybe farther back to 1955?

    The apparent prosperity of the mid 2000s was the result of a housing bubble.  Likewise, the apparent prosperity of the ’90s was due to a stock bubble.  In both cases people felt more wealthy than they actually were, and spent like it.  This spurred the economy into an unsustainable overdrive.  The rise of the middle class in the 1950s & 60s happened not because America was deserving of God’s grace, but because it was geographically far from the European/Asian/African conflict that destroyed almost every other industrialized nation in WWII.  Everyone bought American because factories in England, France, Germany, & Japan were reduced to rubble… Even throughout the 1800s, America thrived by stealing lands from those unable to defend it.

    So when, exactly, were we so great?

    Today we’re still benefiting from artificially low energy costs.  The same distance that saved us from the worst of WWII means we need to transport goods that much farther.  Yet our attempts as nation building in oil rich regions are crumbling faster than a Roman legion before the Goths.  What will happen when we’re paying $5+ for a gallon of gasoline?

    For 200 years it has been folly to bet against America, but what will sustain our optimism going forward?  Have anyone seriously considered the possibility of today truly being better than tomorrow?

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      You need to read the energy pages.  The oil companies are predicting that $2 a gallon gasoline is the new and future normal.  The big difference in gas prices is state taxes.

    • Avatar Tom says:

      A fabulous economic overview, T.i.m., and a wake up slap to those who think they can make America great “again.” The key word should be “finally.” There are many things we can do to create an atmosphere in America that is amenable to the people of America, for whom the country was (ostensibly) founded. Hint: not one of them is about artificial bubbles that make the rich all the richer and the poor all the poorer was the bubble bursts.

  31. Avatar Mike_R says:


    Don’t forget for second that we are turning our noses up at a BILLION dollar industry.

    Commercial cannabis is here, it’s legal in the state , there is a framework that addresses ALL the problems  and we are turning our snobby noses up at it because we don’t like it.

    Look at Humboldt and Trinity and Mendo and all these other places that are embracing what is already here. Real jobs, real taxes….but we don’t like how it smells…we don’t like the “element” that it attracts….all those issues are addressed in Prop 64 and in the ordinances passed by Hum and Trin.

    There are 9 grow stores in Shasta County. Do you think people stopped growing?? They just went more and more underground.

    Shasta Board of Supervisors NEEDS to pass a commercial cannabis ordinance before the train passes by

    I don’t like the way a sawmill smells either, but I like the jobs.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Mike, I don’t think “We” are turning our noses up….I think the elected officials have done that in the past ( hence the recall).  The reason I say the past, is at least we have had some discussions on the topic at the city of Redding although some feel that was all just a show, that the answer is going to be an inevitable no come Dec.

      Roll up your sleeves city of Redding….Hire an Outside Consultant to tell you Just How many Millions we are talking about in Cannabis taxes per year…just how many jobs could be created….put that into a package and get it out to the Public to vote on…..pretty simple stuff…’s not rocket science folks….sure there are some pre conceived biases are at play….religious beliefs….it’s us and them attitudes….but lets get beyond that shall we! Let’s Look out for What is in the Communities Best Interest….shall we.More police….more jail space…..more deputies if the County gets on Board with a YES……will that benefit the Community??

      So who would like to the city of Redding to allow in hundreds of new jobs, fill up Stillwater Park..?….Who would like the city of Redding to have millions more per year to work with and by the fact that they said YES to Prop 64 that has Already Passed…..instead of no actually get some GRANTS from the state to fund some of these ideas to help people?

      Who wants some REAL Change in this area?……I do……do you?

      I would like to think that even the Mayor and the City Council are Capable of growth….of learning and growing…..of opening up their minds and setting aside their pre conceived notions and biases on Cannabis……prove me right……for the Communities benefit……please…..

      And let us not forget…..the View from the top….always looks a bit different than the bottom of the hill…..To more Jobs… more money to work with… taking our city back!

      • Avatar Mike_R says:

        the voters of this county enacted Measure A to begin with. So yes, “WE” we the citizens of Shasta County. Nothing about Prop 64 changes ANYTHING here. No businesses, no cultivation legally, and the window for getting our foot in the door is quickly passing. So much revenue and jobs, brought into the light, into compliance. It just absolutely baffles my mind. Logic has gone out the window and personal dislike rule the day.

        Redding is getting exactly what we’ve created for ourselves.

        • Avatar Horace MacGregor says:

          Measure A won by about 10%. As the older rednecks die off, perhaps a new day will dawn.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Ummmm Michael….you might want bone up on prop 64….. it is Legal to grow anywhere in California right now 6 Plants……Inside……Measure A is No outdoor growing….It’s been legal in California since Jan 1 2017……subject to “Reasonable” city regulations…..

  32. Avatar cheyenne says:

    The Laramie County Outreach, which I am part of, here in Cheyenne refurbish apartments to house homeless veterans here in Cheyenne and in northern Colorado.  The local VFW’s have donated money, and local hotels donate bedding and Goodwill donates furniture.  In Fort Lupton, Colorado they have turned an abandoned jail into a homeless housing project.

    The county school district divided itself into homeless sections to aid homeless students.  Local churches have granted use of church cottages to house these students with proper oversight, not a traditional group home run by a for profit group.

    Climb Wyoming is a non profit group that trains single mothers in the trades, welding, construction even CDL drivers to get them off public assistance.

    NEEDS is a used clothing outlet that will clothe those who are looking at job interviews.  In addition another shelter allows the homeless a place to take showers.  Many churches offer dinners for the homeless.

    Comea House is the main homeless shelter which also has a free medical clinic next door.  In addition they have refurbished a few former storage units into one room apartments that they rent out to the working poor at nominal rents based on income, as little as $200 a month.

    The Cheyenne Police Department has walking patrols where officers will inform the homeless of these options.

    All this is funded in large part by donors, mainly church groups and Conservative groups like the CFD organization.  I can name a dozen church groups just here in Cheyenne that help the poor and the homeless.  Noone can name even one atheist group in the country that helps the homeless.  I point this out to show the split between those wanting to cure the homeless problem.  It is not a Conservative or Liberal problem, or church or atheist problem, it is an American problem and blaming the other side is what created it.

    Now Redding can copy Cheyenne or attack it.  The choice is yours.


    • Avatar T.i.m. says:

      There may not be “atheist” groups, but off hand, I can think of 3 secular groups in the northstate.

      The very idea of an “atheist” group is rather silly — lets all organize around something we don’t believe?

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        Very true.  I only posted it because a few posters on here and in the fishwrap complain that Redding’s homeless shelter has religious overtones.

        • Avatar K. Beck says:

          I don’t read the Searchlight. “Overtones?” If you are speaking of the Good News Rescue Mission, just have a look at the name. It IS a religious organization. I have been there during dinner time, the meal comes with prayers before the food is served. Is that good or bad? I don’t know. What I do know is they help people. At this point, people who are putting down the Mission, ask yourselves: who else in town is doing as much, or even half of what the Mission is doing? Or is the complaint that they ARE helping people who need help? There is a church on every other corner in this town. So, why are people complaining about the Mission?

      • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

        Morality is not dictated by your religion.  Some would say it’s a hindrance.  Charity is not simply a tenet of your faith. Your belief that an atheist group can’t organize around something they don’t believe is nonsense.  We don’t believe in forcing the hungry to be subjected to ramblings about mystical superstitions before they can be fed, nor do we protect pederasts in robes from prosecution.  We feed the hungry because they are hungry and no more.  Although the beatitudes are good rules to live by, they do not alleviate guilt or satisfy the belly that growls.

        • Avatar T.i.m. says:

          We are largely in agreement.  But I would make a distinction between a secular organization (one which merely ignores religion) and an atheist organization (one whose entire existence is based on being without God).

          Can you think of a group that shelters the homeless while preaching the gospels of Bohr, Rand, & Zwicky?

          • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

            Generally, Atheists don’t feel a need to congregate with our own to justify our existence or feel good about ourselves.  Selfless acts are personal, unannounced, and dictated by those in need, not the need to proselytize.

          • Avatar Tom says:

            As a devoted atheist I’ve never felt the need to preach the gospel of anyone. Maybe that makes me a skeptic, instead?

            Ah, ignore my response. The Old Pretender said it better than me, anyway. 😉

  33. Avatar concerned says:

    I used to live in Anderson and Redding, actually most of my life and just am saying here in southern Oregon we have had that challenge for the 13 years I have lived here but it is getting worse. It used to be ‘regulars’ and some even had homes and hung out with regulars, and we even knew them and their stories, and were older usually. They were harmless except it did tend to scare off tourists from stopping here. Now, with all the meth,and  the pot  ‘farms’ the element has gotten much worse and all businesses are experiencing break-ins. Crime is worse.  The panhandles tend to be younger people, some say they need gas,some food, etc but you never do know. It’s so hard to ignore their circumstances. We have gotten food and given it to them when they need it, but I think they give it to their dogs which they always seem to have here. Once in awhile we will see a vet or a family that seems truly like they are just trying to get somewhere and we help. I am thinking this is happening all over America and we read about some places that are figuring out ways to help. I had been temporarily homeless for awhile many years ago, lucky to have a van to travel in when we were looking for work, it was scary, coming from a middle class family, schooled, worked and not finding much help. So I have a lot of compassion but also am really ‘awake’ to the reality that many who are panhandling now are not just in between jobs and one has to be very mindful about them. I want more messages to young people and older ones to look at what drugs can do to you and your life, to try to make better choices. One fellow who wanders up and down the highways and has been here for years I think is harmless, but he is how he is because drugs blew his mind out and is damaged forever. What do you do for people like that? We don’t have the institutions they used to have (and we all know the horror stories that went on in some of them!), so there seems to be no safe place. We had a fellow here who was trying to build some spaces for them during the winter months so they could be warm, I am not sure how many actually were built. I give thanks for having a home, food, income and friends in this moment, as we know from all the disasters all over the world, everything can be gone in a moment. There were some statistics that there are 20 million living in refugee camps right now. I am afraid with the lastest weather disasters in so many places we are going to see more homeless and I sure don’t hear our leader addressing any of this, things aren’t going ‘so great’ America, is it? Anyway, I just wanted to say this is probably going to get worse unless someone comes up with the money and some creative ideas so we can all feel like the hopeless are getting help and we can feel safer in our communities again. Too sad for everyone!

  34. Avatar Janis says:

    The resounding word I keep reading throughout this conversation is JAIL…Please understand until a paradigm shift is made nothing can change. Not to beat a dead horse but until mental health facilities are reinstated the problem will continue. When I was a young girl in the 1950’s my mother would take my brother and I to the Tenderloin district of San Francisco to point out the homeless. Her words to us were “Become a alcoholic or a drug addict and this is the life you can look forward too”, This is the only place I remember ever seeing street people. Fast forward to 1962, my family visited the Seattle Worlds Fair and went to Vancouver BC. I was shocked at the amount of homeless street people everywhere, fast forward to 1967 Gov Reagan closes mental facilities and then defunds mental health in 1981 as President.

    So IMHO building more jails is Not the answer. There are many more solutions that can be implemented. Solutions that other Countries have lead the way with…The wheel doesn’t need to be redesigned, it just needs a strong leadership to get it rolling!

    • Avatar T.i.m. says:

      But are mental institutions any more successful than jails?

      • Avatar Janis says:

        I’m not advocating a return to the past but studies have also shown that even the best community care does not offer enough care and protection for the many chronically mentally ill.

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        tim, do you work with the mentally ill?  My youngest daughter, with a college education, does in Phoenix.  Why is she in Phoenix, because she tried working with the mentally ill in Redding and they paid S++T for wages.  So now someone who really cares about the mentally ill is working with them in Phoenix, not Redding.

        • Avatar K. Beck says:

          AND now you have the answer to the never ending question in Redding: Why are city officials paid such high salaries. Because, if you pay them less they will go to another city that will pay them more. It is basic economics. Now, you may say, “Good, let someone else do the job who will be happy with less money.” Valid point, but will that person really have the qualifications to do the job? I would say, someone right out of college with a Masters degree would lack a whole lot of needed skills. What you learn in college is out of books, for the most part. Actually DOING the job is a whole other story.

          • Avatar OutsideTheBubble says:

            Governor of California, total pay & benefits: $182,730.46

            # of City of Redding employees that made more than the governor in 2016: 96 (Ninety-six!) Starman made $348,535.89, nearly twice that of the executive of the sixth largest economy in the world.

          • Avatar Tom says:

            That’s insane, ‘Bubble …

  35. Avatar Robin says:

    You eloquently put all my feelings into words the problem in redding is real the transient, homeless, drug addicted, mental illness, Walking Dead are people? if they use the money that’s being spent on bus tickets on fences and locks and barbed wire on ripping down playgrounds on security guards and cameras if we use that money to make a place for mental health for programs we could change if we treat our fellow man with love and concern and take take action to take care of them instead of defend ourselves instead of push them to the side instead of giving them free rides out of town wheather they like it or not “There but by the grace of God go I” most of us are a paycheck away from being on the street and once your there what then? They tore down south City Park because the transit problem there was so bad? Now the bathroom still there but the park is empty why not make it a homeless encampment at least I’ll be a place you can regulate it and people could be there without being attacked or made to move from one spot to another Portland has a bad homeless population but they’re not kicked out of places to give them shelter like underneath the bridges and such the park would be a solution for the moment.

    • Avatar Janis says:

      There is a several acre field on Breslauer, Eastside Rd and Radio Lane. Sits vacant and could easily be converted to a tent city. Adjacent to Sheriff, Human Services and mental health office. Use to be the garden for the County jail. It’s a shame it just sits there vacant when it could be utilized. A possible solution sans the nay sayers!

  36. Steve Steve says:

    Janis stated that we need strong leadership to get solutions rolling.  Where is that leadership in Redding and Shasta County?  Are there real leaders out there?  Is there a solution if Shasta County is receiving big bucks to have AB 109’s dropped off here?  Doni pointed out several homeless issues she’s seen with her own eyes.  We all see it.  When I worked at City Hall, I heard from other employees, that they’d seen bathing in the front fountain.  And I saw homeless doing their laundry in the back fountain of City Hall.  When done washing, they’d hang their laundry over the vertical cement slaps surrounding the fountain.  Things are getting much worse and faster, it seems.  When I moved here in 1986, Redding was a very pleasant small town.  I felt safe wherever I went.  That’s one of the reason’s I moved here.  Now?

  37. Avatar Alex says:

    Time for another flood

  38. Avatar Misha Griffith says:

    Overall, there are three ways I can see to handle the problem: Apathy, malice, or empathy. Right now it seems that the authorities and the citizens of Redding are practicing apathy–ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away. The results are as you see–the problem is just festering.
    There is the idea of malice, or making staying in Redding so horrible for the homeless that they leave themselves. This is a dark and cruel option that opens all sorts of opportunities for vigilantism. It is also asking the police and sheriffs’ department to turn into thugs, and a real law enforcement professional will not participate. The violent option is a haven for those who already have violent tendencies and psychopaths.
    Then there is the third option: empathy. This option is the most difficult, the most expensive, and risks inviting even more homeless into town. Empathy also forces the city officials and residents to address each homeless person as a human being, find out what their problems are, and devise a route to aid them. It is much harder work than the other two options, but it is also the most humane. Libertarians will say this option is a non-starter and that the homeless should be able to help themselves, but the evidence on the ground demonstrates that they cannot help themselves.
    Anyway, I think the first thing to do in Redding is to decide how to proceed.

    • Avatar Tom says:

      Misha, I hope your example is one of evolution. We had apathy for the situation for so long, and as the problem worsened it has grown into near-hysterical community malice. Perhaps that is just a stepping stone to the place we truly need to arrive, one of balanced empathy.

  39. Avatar Janine says:

    So many of the responses and Doni’s article have hit the nail on the head for me. As a long time Redding resident and business owner, I have become saddened at the decline in our lovely town. I have watched as the downtown mall parking lots have turned into a homeless cesspool. The trash and smells are offensive. I have also had more friends than I can count with good pensions leave the state. We are left with less and less of the people that can pay taxes and buy product in our stores. I also don’t know the answers, but I hate like heck to just give up.  Thank you Doni for putting in words this towns feelings.

  40. Avatar Jim says:

    The problem of homeless is the same everywhere and just giving housing, food, and medical is not working. It’s just creating more homeless. But I believe that the three things that would help a lot are Jobs, Jobs and Jobs.

    California is chasing jobs away and doesn’t even try to get them to stay. The politicians are doing fine, get raises every year and reelected. Pass all kinds of laws to limit our freedom and could care less. Wake up people.

    • Avatar Janis says:

      I agree Jim, jobs are a solution but the street people of Redding are not able to hold a job. Once one reaches despair, apathy sets in…not only with those on the street but also those who see the results. We All have a responsibility to do something, even if it’s nothing more than writing a letter or attending a meeting to voice one’s helpful solution.

  41. Avatar Patricia says:

    Well said. My sentiments exactly.

  42. Avatar Pam says:

    Beautifully written, Doni.  My husband and I lived in Redding the past 39 years.  We watched this sad situation develop over the years,  and when we both retired last year we decided to “Leave It”.  Solutions seem so few and feeble.  It really is tragic on an astronomical scale.  Shasta County is gorgeous, but Oregon offered us the alluring, serene paradise we dreamed of.  We sold out and left 2 months ago.  I am overwhelmed with emotion when I look around our pretty little river town up here, and think about what Redding ‘s streets are teeming with at the same moment. Daily scenes of sad, sick, degraded humans we left there will always haunt me, because it is real.  And horrific. 

  43. I’ve seen many of the people you’ve described, Doni, and have felt same sadness, fear and anger. Last month I spoke my 3 minutes Public Forum City Council Meeting about my crime concerns, started a Neighborhood Watch at our apartment building, joined Facebook recently to get on Redding Crime 2.0 and signed recall. When heat wave is over, I may volunteer to get signatures. YOU are ONLY voice I have heard describe MY town with alarming accuracy.

    • I think the reason this column resonates with so many people is they are seeing exactly what I’m seeing. We’ve become so used to it that it’s almost part of life now.

  44. Avatar Maureen says:

    Well done Doni!   You described this horrific environment to the “t”.  May I add one more visual – – every public bus stop in Redding houses these individuals.  When will the local police stop and red-direct them to an appropriate location?  Isn’t that a starting point, at least?  This cannot be tolerated for God’s sake!  I love the Redding area and its surrounding beauty – – the core of the community is gone.  I cried when I read your accurate accounting because it is the TRUTH and it is how I have been feeling for a long time.  Finally, it is in black and white.  Keep re-publishing this every day.  It is alarming what is happening; absolutely alarming.  Thank you dear Doni!

  45. Avatar conservative says:

    The State of California can help.  The Democrats in Sacramento should pass a referendum which allows local government to pass dedicated sales tax hikes with a simple majority.

    The State of California will be reducing capacity of state prisons  because of those which have to close because of Valley Fever and asbestos.

    I think the counties will do a better job keeping felons in county jails than the state does keeping them in prisons.  Voters will support a sales tax increase to build and operate county jails if the revenue cannot be diverted to other purposes by the city or county government.  The sales tax rate in Alameda county is 9.75%. City of Redding and Shasta county can move in that direction, but voters don’t want to see the money going to raises and promotions which have squandered revenue in the past.

    Many comments above suggest that voters were wrong to reject measure D and E.  Oakland (Alameda county seat) has 100 homeless encampments shown on a neat map in the Chron.  Some of those locations were nice when I lived in Oakland in the 70s.  From that example, I am not convinced that sales tax increases are effective in reducing homelessness.  I suspect that contrary to the comments above, voters would defeat measure D and E by an even wider margin given the raises passed by the City Council since the defeat of measures D and E.  The only way to pass a sales tax increase is to make it dedicated jail expansion and operation and narrowly defined increase in funded patrolmen, not sergeants, lieutenants, etc.

    • Avatar Tom says:

      Thank you for that insight, Conservative! I’ve been wondering what it would take to turn an earmarked bill into a simple majority vote and I think you’ve just answered that question. If it is indeed in the hands of the state officials, then that’s a focus we need to have. I believe wholeheartedly that a sales tax increase earmarked for police and jail expansion would pass easily as a majority vote. Thanks again!

  46. Avatar lydia says:

    My Husband and I started helping a couple old men that were sick could not work not near enough but the smiles with tears made it worth it also we watched as a man in a nice shirt and jacket slowly he looked worse ad at the time we moved he looked like the others broke my heart I pray for all of them because we don’t know what that story is one lady was a mental patient but that place closed

  47. Avatar Sherry says:

    What you wrote is exactly how I feel too. I use to carry bottled water and granola bars in my car to try and give a bit of help to the homeless. Unfortunately, I was rejected by most of the transients. I was constantly told, “I want money not food/water.”  There were a few that were genuinely thankful for whatever I had to offer them. I don’t know what the solution is but I’m hopeful our city can reclaim itself.  Thank you for posting your article!

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      I have bought breakfast/lunch for homeless people who have hit me up for money. Best to give cash  to the Mission so it goes to food and not something else.

      When I lived in Sunnyvale (must have been sometime in the ’80s) a young man (late 20s-early 30s I am guessing) came up to me in a parking lot and asked me for money. He was squeaky clean, so I assumed he came from a half-way house, or he had family taking care of him. It was obvious he had some mental problems. Since we were in a parking lot with a grocery store near by I offered to take him grocery shopping. He declined my offer. His response was, “I NEED beer and cigarettes!” I said, “Well, I don’t spend my hard earned dollars on beer and cigarettes for myself, so, if you want some food, I will buy that for you.” He steadfastly insisted on the beer and cigarettes. I wished him good luck, got in my car and drove away.

      Just remember those that were grateful and forget about the rest. Mental issues will cloud the brains of those unfortunate enough to possess the illness.

  48. Avatar John says:

    Have you ever thought about talking to one of these human beings you describe as objects and asked them what they think the problem is, and what should be done?
    Perhaps you might find out that the problem is that we live in a sick society, where people look at others as problems or objects rather than human beings.
    If you won’t want poor people, end Capitalism.   It really is as simple as that.


    • Avatar T.i.m. says:

      Capitalism isn’t what is teaching our children to beg instead of work:

      • Avatar K. Beck says:

        Did you read the entire article?

        “A few details detract from the story’s outrage-stirring underdog drama: Madison was told she could sell her mistletoe nearby, just beyond the boundary of the park. And her family isn’t sinking in the quicksands of poverty—they didn’t need any additional money for the braces. The local organization that approves vendors in the park has also invited her to return, without paying the normal permit fee.”

    • Avatar Natalie Gray says:

      You’re right John. With the prisons for profit, the cuts to mental health, and the lack of rehab centers contributes mightily to this, all pushed by big corporations or politicians who get big donations from those corporations. The opioid epidemic is on the pharma companies. They prescribe oxycontin for everything.
      We need to elect politicians who talk about issues and what they’re going to do, not just ones who say the right things but do nothing.

  49. Avatar conservative says:

    Gov. Brown is an advocate for “subsidiarity”.  Decentralization is better term.  Gov. Brown and many in state government want to push responsibilities to the local level, so services for the homeless and jails will be paid by local sales tax increases, up to the statutory limit of 10%.  I think an initiative spearheaded by Gov. Brown to remove the prop 13 limit on property tax assessment of commercial property will easily pass.  State government can gradually decriminalize and empty state prisons and give local government no choice but to raise sales and commercial property taxes.

  50. Avatar lola says:

    How about home the homeless? Feed the hungry. If you have luxuries in life why not consider sharing? Or are you so greedy that you would rather wach an indivitual squable beneath you. Do what you can to help and if everybody dose what they can then that is a true community. Our ellected officials will not solve problems for you. Take it into your own hands. Imagin if you were in similar states as these sad individuals. How would you hope people treat you? And yes we need more rehab facilities, half way homes, mental hospitals for those people to gain the tools to actually get off the streets. There are many ways to help people. Pick one and pass it on.

  51. Avatar Carla says:

    This recall is asinine. It will not solve anything and will just serve to discourage reasonably skilled and smart publicly minded people from running for office.  It always looks easy until you’re in the driver’s seat.

  52. Avatar Dan says:

    We don’t have to reinvent the wheel or discover any magical new “solutions”. There seems to a be a LOT of hand wringing about subjects some other Cities dealt with successfully 20+ years ago. Please take just five minutes to read the short piece by one of Americas most effective law enforcement leaders. Bill Bratton achieved 30% + crime reductions in a number of departments including NYC using proven old fashioned tactics. People are people, Redding isn’t unique or special. These techniques worked in a city that is 90 times larger than Redding with much more diversity, crime, and poverty. They do require hard work and accountability, however. If you have more time, read his book, you can find a used copy for $5 on Amazon.

  53. Avatar Sam Allen says:

    Cut off the head of the serpent! If we could concentrate on the drugs that have infested our community we would find that the addicted will move on or get help! Doni, I remember the day you sat in CAROUSEL and witnessed your first drug deal outside the store window! That day seems so benign now. Could a, would a, should a! If our city leaders would have truly listened back then perhaps things might be different today. I still believe in what my mother used to say . ” Every town needs a bum camp!” Sounds so harsh but it still remains a solution for services, meals, tents, restrooms and showers. You and I have dreamed about this and pretented it exsisted in a perfect world. Maybe it still could work because what we are doing now is not working for us. God bless us all no matter what side of the fence we are on. Your article was great! It felt like you reached into my soul and put how I felt in words!

    • Sam, I do remember that day, and you’re right that given how much worse things are in Redding now, that drug deal out your window seems like child’s play.

      I think we should aim for our perfect world, and even if we miss the mark, we’ll still be better off than we are now.

  54. Avatar Redding native says:

    Um.. good descriptions. Not entirely sure what you think should happen; let alone what you truly think you can accomplish by writing thus article. I grew up here and am damn proud I got the f**k out.

    First off, we don’t even have a real electorate system for mayor so good luck trying to implement change.  Change comes from not having a bunch of douchey, ‘rich’ people owning the city council and passing around the ‘mayoral torch’ as they see fit.

    The ‘wealthy’ of Redding put themselves on a high horse when their wealth wouldn’t even allow them an apartment in a real, flourishing city. What is wealth when its counterpart is pennies? They have small fish, with “money” determining shit legislation based on relative wealth and power. Anyone who actually has money would not bother living in such a shitty, meth town.

    It’s a small town with no opportunity and no business; an inherent breeding ground for homeless who may in fact and in my experience, are far more intelligent than your average; extremely opinionated and uneducated, Reddinginite. No you’re not special in your leased BMW.


    A true redding native.



  55. Avatar roy bitz says:

    I believe there is a solution to every problem— even the homeless problem. Journalists identify problems and document—that’s what they do. City management is responsible for controlling threats to public health and safety.

    Most every city in California and in the country has homeless people– a threat to public health and safety but none deal with the problem– because homeless people have rights— that’s a problem for which there is a solution.

    I believe anyone who has no means, no food source other than panhandling or  scrounging in garbage cans, no access to clean water, a place to pee and poop— forfeits their right to be free because they are a threat to themselves and public health.

    Refugee type camps are my proposed solution. Tent cities, Fresh but cold water, soap, toilets minimal heat no AC. This is just one basic idea but it’s the only one I have. Before we have a hepatitis b or worse disease breakout.

  56. Avatar M.W. says:

    As someone who spent my entire life in Redding up until 2 years ago, this hit me hard. The town I live in now puts its populace first and it breaks my heart that the place I call home isn’t a place I felt safe enough in to stay. Redding feels like the place dreams go to die. I would always go on these rants with my family about how I’d rather my tax money support the people that live there– with OR without homes– than watch it be spent planting oversized palm trees on a busy street where everyone is in such a hurry to get away from the sketchy creatures hobbling around in the middle of the road that they don’t even SEE the damn dead palm trees in the first place. More money is spent trying to bring new restaurants in or trying to re-landscape areas the “transient” population has been destroying. They need to stop being reactive and start being proactive. In order to solve any issues, we need government and city officials that can see what needs to be done. Instead of cleaning up after the homeless population, perhaps rearranging the budget before placing another new bar or restaurant and spending that money on a place for these people to either get help, be rehabilitated, or jailed (provided they need to be,) instead? How Redding officials fail to recognize or implement EXTREMELY simple solutions to considerably damning issues is beyond me. The fact that myself and so many others that have left won’t even visit our own families because the discomfort outweighs the joy of family gatherings is unsettling and unacceptable. I WANT to WANT to be proud of the place I come from. The people in charge HAVE to want that too, right?

  57. Avatar cheyenne says:

    As one who left Shasta County because my kids left because of no jobs, a common refrain from those who left, I do have to say a lot of family are still there and doing okay.  But they are in Anderson or Trinity County, not Redding.

  58. Avatar Bartman says:

    After reading this, my biggest concern is that you wait to lock your car doors until you see someone that looks like they may be homeless.  You should lock you car doors prior to starting to drive. It is not the ones that you Can see they you should be worried about, it is the ones you CAN’T see that will get you.

  59. Avatar Don says:

    I grew up in Redding – lived there until I turned 21 and have since lived in many cities (large and small) throughout CA. To pretend this issue is “new” is just that – pretend. I clearly remember as a kid in the 1970’s having to lock my door and call the police to report a woman dressed as a bat – yes, a bat – running circles around my house. I also remember clearly the day that a transient man walked into our house, my 9 or 10 year old sister screaming as she ran past me out the back door and leaving a 8 or 9 year old me behind to deal with him. I worked in downtown – in the mid-1980’s there were all sorts of homeless people wandering around – some even had made-up names that everyone knew.

    Unfortunately this idea that “things used to be so great” is really just having a selective memory. The facts are that this has ALWAYS been an issue – it’s just that as the city grows, so does the “problems”. There are homeless people EVERYWHERE – in every state and most every city. At some point the government decided to de-fund mental hospitals and they all ended up on the streets – because lets face it, where else are they going to go? Also, there really are people that choose to be homeless. There is a book called “The Glass Castle” – it’s an autobiography by a woman whose parents chose to be homeless – it’s a interesting read…

    • Terry Terry says:

      I remember, though, Don, when I first moved to Redding in 1992, and I could take my son to the Library.  We never had to walk around homeless people camped on the front sidewalks.  I felt safe walking to and from my car in the lot.  I could go to the restroom, and not have to step around the defecation in the stalls.

      Now there are places I never go alone.  There are lots of places I never go after dark.  And there are too many places I’m not comfortable going to at all.

      And then one day, about six months ago, I was downtown pumping gas at 2 in the afternoon.  I saw a homeless man walking down the sidewalk toward the gas station.  As I pumped, I would quickly check where he was.  But when he reached the edge of station, he started yelling incoherently and headed right at me.  Well, I stopped pumping, jumped in my car, and took off.  That’s when I decided it was time to “Leave it.”  I no longer felt safe in Redding, and I have moved.  I do still visit my family and friends in Redding, at least for now.

      But Doni, you nailed how Redding has changed and exactly how I feel about it.  Redding, in my opinion, was the crown jewel of our Northern California.  Let’s get that back!

      • We’ve learned to be hyper vigilant, and it’s a good thing you were on the day you were pumping gas. I’m so sorry that you had to experience that.

        You’re among the many who’ve left because this city no feels safe.

        It’s really unfortunate.

  60. Avatar Dan says:

    What we need at City Hall are some Rudy Giuliani types who are educated enough (or who can learn) to back the cops to implement proven time tested law enforcement techniques and establish verifiable benchmarks to check performance. ” During his first term as mayor of New York City, Giuliani hired a new police commissioner, William Bratton, who applied the broken windows theory of urban decay, which holds that minor disorders and violations create a permissive atmosphere that leads to further and more serious crimes that can threaten the safety of a city.[3] Within several years, Giuliani was widely credited for major improvements in the city’s quality of life, and in lowering the rate of violent crimes.”

    No need to re-invent the wheel.

    • Avatar Steven says:

      I whole heartedly agree.  Unfortunately this action takes a few dollars along with the commitment you mentioned.  The citizens voted to poke their heads in the sand and ignore the problem and not fund the public safety initiatives on the ballot last November.  We may get the Redding we all deserve because of it.

    • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

      Oh yes.  Let’s import unconstitutional fascism.  Sounds like a good plan!

      • Avatar ROBERT BERRY says:

        Huh?  Pretender indeed!


      • Avatar Steven says:

        Unconstitutional fascism?

        I’m talking about being responsible for our own community through the representative government we elected.  Maybe there is a misunderstanding on what Federalism is, how it works and how it benefits us when we take LOCAL responsibility for what happens in our community.  We run the risk of unconstitutional fascism when we look to State then the Federal Government to take care of the problem.  …and if we don’t fix our own problems, the State and Federal Government will use it as an excuse to move in and take control.  Not what we want…

      • Avatar T.i.m says:

        Perhaps he was talking about the extreme civil rights abuses that occurred in New York City under Rudy Giuliani?


        • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

          Bingo!  The marriage of corporate and bureaucratic interests, where property is to be protected and the human element is simply to feed the beast.  Less stormtroopers, with stop and frisk, and more social contracts dedicated to the commons.  If you look at our existing local political power structure, you reveal the knuckleheads who will run the State of Jefferson.  Not a good choice.

          • Avatar Tom says:


            “If you look at our existing local political power structure, you reveal the knuckleheads who will run the State of Jefferson.  Not a good choice.”

    • Avatar ROBERT BERRY says:

      From Mc Donald’s book.  A  good read. I am promoting this precise policy here in chico.  See

  61. Avatar Virginia says:

    Doni, when you wrote a long time ago about a couple who came to Redding from Florida because they heard how good the “free” lives could be, the problem has only worsened.    A while back I read that a pastor of a church in Chico gave some “street people” a bus ticket to Redding, that should tell us something.

    Legalizing Pot is not going to make our lives better.  It is just easier for people who say it isn’t as bad as alcohol, do the old Leary ode from the 1960s,”tune in, drop out” life.

    When I volunteered at a drug rehab in 1970, the ones trying to rehabilitate themselves said the difference between them and me was, “I wanted to be aware, but they didn’t!”  In those days, there were few parents on any drug, but today, it is even the grandparents, parents who are on drugs.   What is really going to change it, I really have no idea.  Giving the store away won’t help, but not offering something won’t help either.

    Maybe more of us need to get back to our religious backgrounds, and pray……..  After all, God parted the Red Sea!

    P.S.  I like you Doni.  You may be more liberal and I may be more conservative, but you have so many great qualities.  Love that in you!!   So don’t let someone’s attitude upset you.



    • Virginia, I don’t see this as a liberal or conservative problem, and neither are the solutions.

      I like your sentence, Giving the store away won’t help, but not offering something won’t help either.

      P.S. Thanks for liking me. I like you, too. But I gave up trying to be liked by all readers a long time ago.  Being disliked by a segment of the population comes with the job.

  62. Avatar Dean says:

    I am sorry Doni that this issue of our community’s apparent devolution is hitting you so hard. It is obvious you love this City, as do many of us, but we have become (perhaps always where), the Appalachia of the West. It is therefore disappointing that when we have opportunities to fund interventions, like the very modest quarter cent sales tax, the same population who cry about crime, drugs and homelessness, voted against it because they claim there was not guarantee that the City would spend money the way they wanted.  This is clearly the story of their view of perfection being the enemy of the good! There are many comments here about creating a police state or herding people we don’t like or care for, or who potentially can harm us, into either prison or in the case of homelessness, into fortified camps outside of town like a true third world nation. It is interesting that these people are going after the more progressive parts of the City Council, ironically in the case of Kristen Shredder, one of only perhaps 2-3 of them trying to find long-term solutions to problems such as homelessness that goes beyond locking them up or  giving them a bus ticket to San Francisco. To make progress you have to have a vision, then a plan and then the resources. Not sure why we fail on any or all of these things but if never wish to provide new resources (yes taxes) to help address these issues, then you keep getting what you are getting regardless of who you recall. The key to our communities success if obviously economic development but you need several conditions for that to happen including a stable political system (a recall does not help). We need to further develop opportunities and truly encourage higher education, perhaps even seen strategies to bring more of it here. We need to properly fund law enforcement but also seek out strategies that have been shown to be more effective in other like communities, like a sobering center, housing and service options for the chronically homeless and fund proper interventions for those with serious mental illness. The truth is, as has been stated elsewhere, the problems we see today have been a part of Redding for a long time it is just that we have both flushed these out into the open and we have added the problems of greater drug addiction to the mix. It is not hopeless from where I stand if enough people are willing to fight for this. Unfortunately we will waste this year and perhaps the next fighting around who is on City Council, perhaps waste some $200,000 doing so, without much to show for it. My pain in reading your article is that, if this is where you have come, this does not bode well for the future of our community. On the other hand, you are speaking from the heart as we reach the crossroad of the future of our City. I personally will do what I can to fight for the interests of all our community, in my case, for those with lesser economic resources. I hope others, in like positions economically and politically, will do the same. Hopefully we can get behind a vision and a plan and finally find the resources to make our future brighter.

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

      Dean, one small correction:

      “…quarter cent sales tax…the same population who cry about crime, drugs and homelessness, voted against it because they claim there was not guarantee that the City would spend money the way they wanted.”

      The quarter cent sales tax proposed in 2014 DID required that the revenue derived would go solely to public safety but received only 57% of the vote vs. the 67% required. The 2016  Measure D half cent proposal was instead written to require only  50% + 1  voter  approval (like Anderson’s successful half cent proposal), but it  was soundly defeated as well.

      • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

        Measure E “recommended”- not directed- how the money should be spent, and 13 programs (if I remember correctly) were listed, only 2 of which were really public-safety oriented. I think it would have passed if the Council had not indulged in listing their own personal favorite social programs.
        The Anderson measure was written very directly, and it passed. Perhaps the Council should try again, using the Anderson measure as a model.

      • Avatar T.i.m. says:

        I agree with James.  Giving the council money & hoping they spend it all on public safety is about as naive as expecting a panhandler to buy only groceries.

        Just recently the mayor refused to dedicate future proceeds from the sale of Stillwater parcels towards the repayment of the bonds that financed the boondoggle:
        Grand Jury Recommendation #5:  By September  30, 2017,  the Redding  City  Council  establish a  policy  directing  funds received from any  future parcel  sales  be  utilized only  for  Stillwater  Business  Park  debt  repayment  or infrastructure.   
        Mayor’s Response:  The  recommendation will  not  be implemented.  The City  Council  has  the prerogative to direct  parcel-sale  revenue  to be used for  General  Fund  needs,  including  Stillwater  Business  Park debt  repayment  or  infrastructure. Binding  Council  decisions by  policy  would limit  flexibility  and could  prevent  such funds being  used  for  higher-priority  needs at  any  given time.  

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      Great post, Dean. Thanks!

  63. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    We need one big homeless camp with basic facilities  down on Metz Rd. near the Clear Creek Sewer Plant. 40 acres. The City owns the  land and two old houses next to it for a non-profit to run it . Sell South City Park and Parkview River Park for offices and commercial uses. Get rid of these downtown campsites . Work to move the Mission to the Metz Rd. site. No point in saving the downtown if people are sleeping all  over the place. Start selling surplus city lands for jail expansion .

  64. Avatar Lani says:

    Using Hwy. 299, head west to Eureka, then south on Hwy. 101 through Fortuna, Rio Dell, the small “census designated areas” on the Avenue of the Giants, to Redway & Garberville.  We have a very similar problem, only here, they squat in the parks, sometimes cooking their food on an open fire, no matter what time of the year.  They break into houses, particularly vacant summer homes, approach us in parking lots as they do you.  We have found that having 2 dogs (one a black Labrador) in the car, keeps people away, though if we were in Redding, that wouldn’t happen.

    We live on a dead end street that appears to head to the river.  Of course, to get to the river from here means wading through the sewage treatment ponds.  We, including our neighbors, have put up signs of all sorts, but they are too high to read and still try and find the river by using our street.  Cameras and other security items are going up all over town.  Hopefully someone will come up with a way for these people to find work and/or places decent to live.

  65. Avatar Elizabeth Tyler says:

    I can’t get past the scene with the baby on the back of the bike. My motherhood is absolutely assaulted by this. I wonder where that little person ends up at the end of that hot day. Who is making sure he or she has enough water? I can’t imagine this being allowed to go on. How ruthless. My heart is breaking for the children. What brokenness in a society where we pass by children in life threatening situations and feel helpless to do anything of worth to rescue them.

    • I know, Elizabeth. I’m haunted by that little guy, too. I’ve replayed in my mind what I should have done as the guy sped away: Call 911? Go get water and try to track down the man and child and give it to them? Call CPS?

      In the last few weeks I’ve seen many instances of adults with little kids in this heat, and everything in me wants to do something …. but what?

  66. Avatar Erin says:

    Well done Doni, unfortunately Redding is a dumping ground for the San Francisco and Sacramento transient problem, they get s bus ticket to Redding or Portland Oregon and if they stop here they never leave, they pretend to be sick or in pain to get their prescriptions filled at Mercy hospital and then walk around like the Zombies they are, I feel NOTHIND but frustration with the people who ” run ” this City because they know what’s going on and do NOTHING about it, the Police are doing the best they can but their hands are tied, this PC culture has Destroyed not only Redding but most of America, Americans are running out of places to move to get away from filth, WE need to address change in OUR Community not just for us but for OUR Children,

  67. Avatar phil says:

    For years Independents (like myself) and Conservatives have been screaming about how Liberals have destroyed California. Nobody listened. Thousands of businesses and many thousands of GOOD residents have fled to other states having tired of paying for a losing battle. In the movie “Field of Dreams” the mantra “If you build it, they will come” meant legendary baseball players would arrive and play ball…in California it means millions of freeloaders/illegals and criminals have found their home. We built it: they came. “Cleaning House” would require more gumption than our current liberal politicians could possibly muster. I am a native Californian and it saddens me to see what this “Golden State” has become. The rest of the country voted to Make America Great Again…Liberal voters in California will never allow that to happen here. I grew up in Redding (1967 – 1982) but I wouldn’t raise my kids there today – Redding is nothing like it was. People like me simply move away because its obvious things aren’t going to change. The entire town has to want to be better not just the city council etc.

  68. Avatar Dan says:

    Sorry to say, but Redding isn’t the only city dealing with this. It’s everywhere.


  69. Avatar Steven Johnson says:

    The homeless problem has been a dilemma of mankind ever since Adam and Eve were kicked out of the Garden of Eden and if you long time locals who have grown up here will look back, ask yourselves who you gave a buck to to buy your beer before you were 21.  Yes, the problem has gotten worse and compound what you see in Redding by every city in the country and you just may come to the conclusion that we are the ones responsible for electing the wrong people who are not doing the job we elected them to do and furthermore they could care less about the lies they told us to get elected.  Doni’s epiphany will not be solved until we get true Christian spirit and honesty back in local, state and federal governments. With the current logger headed stalemate mentality we are witnessing in Congress how soon do you think that will be? Greed in all it’s forms has caused and made the problem grow and as long as the elite’s have theirs it will never go away.  Any newspaper, any newscast, any radio talk show attests to the finger pointing that never solves the problem and do you think these are complicated problems to solve?  No, firstly control is the chief concern and secondly if all problems are solved politicians, lawyers and accountants will be out of work.  I will go one step further and point out that trillions upon trillions of dollars have been given to the poor ever since  LBJ (the 50’s tests of welfare programs proved them to be failures) and the results have shown that welfare programs are abused and only enslave those who participate in them.  This one issue alone, and there are many, many other issues that do not get solved, lead me to agree with Dr. Lyle Rossiter, clinical psychologist, who has done study’s that prove that Liberalism is a mental disorder.  This “infection” has also spread to many members of the Republican Party so don’t accuse me of being partisan.

  70. Avatar Steven Handy says:

    This opinion article really hit the mark.  Not having read all the comments, this may have been mentioned already.  Unfortunately, the citizens of Redding had an opportunity to do something about it last November and rejected it.  The citizens choose to not put their money were there mouth is and rejected a 1/2% increase in sales taxes that would have been used to shore-up our Police Department and public safety efforts.  The City’s General Fund is still struggling to make ends meet and this did not help.  It sent the signal that we can complain and talk a good story but we are not committed to make the necessary efforts to make real change possible.  When are we going to wake up to our dilemma and be responsible for our own future?

  71. Avatar John says:

    Use of the word “transients” makes it seem like there is no one here to blame for the problem, many if not most of these people are FROM HERE!!! They are not “those people” aka transients, they are our people! Redding can (could?) do a lot, one of the first things that can be done is actually providing a good education to our children. Schools like EHS and stellar charter school pretty much hand out diplomas to anyone still awake at the end of the 4th year, leaving our children unprepared for the most basic of retail jobs.

    Obviously this is not just a Redding problem, this is a problem for most small towns who failed to adapt to new technology. We are still wishing for horse and buggy corporations to move in because the community is too scared that if say, a green house supplier, were to move into town Redding would “change” and we can’t have that.

    Following the “various Redding Facebook pages” would obviously put Redding in a bad light. 90% of the posts are the members trying to incite lynch mobs. I would venture to say that the only difference between the people on those Facebook groups and the “transients” is the roof over their head when they shoot up.

    There is a lot that can be done

  72. Avatar Cosmo says:

    What I want to know, is if they are homeless and poor, then where are they getting the money for the drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and tattoo’s? I’m all for the homeless camps, but the camps should be up in the Mountain area’s out of town, where they couldn’t wander around town like zombies. It would be cooler temperatures for them in the summer and more open land away from businesses. It’s a sad day when businesses are shuting down in Redding, due to the vagrants hanging around their doorsteps and parking lots. Most of the gas stations here are atrocious, and I feel like I am in a real live hunger games when attemping to fuel up, no wonder the employees are forever rolling over. It isn’t safe to leave your child in the car while running in to pay either. My 12 year old was approached the minute I walked inside the gas station to pay, by some young barely clothed, homeless looking druggy, asking her if she smoked weed? When I came back out she was terrified and cowarding, slumped down to the floor in fear. When I got into an altercation with the creep another patron got involved defending me and ended up punching the creep out. I called the police and was told then didn’t have anyone available to come over there. Thanks RPD! In the last ten years Redding has gone down hill tremendously and keeps declining. I for one am getting out of here in the spring and never coming back!

  73. Avatar Jack says:

    My question is what are YOU going to help do about this.  Because journaling about people who have problems and complaining about what hurts yours eyes isn’t going to solve a thing.

    • Avatar Cosmo says:

      Apparently your eyes need glasses Jack. Go back and reread what I wrote. What I wrote had nothing to do with what hurts my eyes. Let me guess you, smoke, drink and have tattoo’s, sorry if I offend thee. However what was asked, was why do they have money for these items, yet harrass little girls in parking lots for drugs? I pray you have no children. And far as what I’m going to do about it,  well I give to charity’s on a regular basis, I also give money and water to people on street corners, despite the fact that I am disabled myself and living on low income. What I don’t do is squander my money away on drugs, cigarettes, alcohol and senseless tattoo’s and then beg for things on street corners or commit crimes along the way.  I come from family in the legal field, and a whole line of military family that has served their country, including my own children and grandchildren,  and even lost my nephew a few years back serving his country with the Army! So what are you doing to pay it forward Jack!

  74. Avatar name says:

    “An acquaintance said her grown out-of-town kids follow the crime on various Redding Facebook pages and are so convinced Redding is an unsafe city that they have vowed to never visit again”

    Wow – give me a break.  There are tons of places in CA, and all over the USA that are much more dangerous than Redding.  I wonder if these folks have ever been out of our country?  Maybe they should get a passport and visit some other places in the world, then they will quickly realize that things are really not that bad around here.  Actually – I hope that they don’t – there are already too many tourists around the world that think they are better, or above everyone else…


  75. Avatar cheyenne says:

    I think part of Doni’s frustration in writing this article could go back to her last article on rebuilding her new home.  It seems Redding is more concerned about a homeowner replacing windows than about vagrants taking over the streets.

  76. It would have been a better article if the author had talked to the lady carrying the suitcase to find out where she came from and what kept her going. “In the last few weeks I’ve noticed a newcomer around town, a short woman – sunburned, wild chopped dry hair, who lugs cumbersome bags in each hand as she trudges along Benton or Market or Court. Where is she going? More important, where is she from? What happened to that woman to bring her to this dire station in life? Is there anything she could have possibly done wrong to deserve this life? I look at her, day after day, week after week, and wonder what keeps her going.” The author goes on to say, ”

    Meanwhile, on this day in Redding when it may reach 117 degrees, I’m haunted by the image of that toddler on the back of the man’s bike, and the elderly woman trudging with the shopping bags, and the young woman changing clothes in the Home Depot parking lot…” Then, she goes on to say,  now would be an excellent time for our elected officials and appointed leaders to actually to lead us out of this mess.” But the author is making a mistake expecting the government to, as she says, “lead us out of this mess.” The government is not going to increase wages, decrease rent, decrease mortgages, lower the price of food, gas, etc., get people off of drugs, get them educated, and make sure there are high paying jobs in their areas once they are educated. That’s what it would take to “get us out of this mess,” and the government isn’t going to do it. But we can. We can get ourselves out of this mess. The author, who apparently has plenty of money for things such as more than one home security system, could cough up a few dollars, or even donate a few minutes of her time without spending anything, to help these people she sees every day herself. She could start by actually talking to these people that she recognizes by their faces every day and finding out their names. Imagine this artice re-written, with the homeless people who were described in it pictured, with a little blip below each of their pictures showing their names and their personal stories. By talking to them she could find out what they need. She could buy a shirt for the shirtless child at a thrift store. She could give people rides to appointments with social services in her car. She could allow a few homeless people to take a shower in her home or even her yard. People must help each other, rather than waiting for the government to step in and fix everything that’s wrong with our society.

  77. Avatar Sara Beck says:

    I would like to say that some do recover. I was that shaved headed girl loaded on meth walking the streets of redding. Sleeping under the bridge at Caldwell park. Scared alone fear of my life rape or to be abused while I slept.  Till someone came and told me I was worthy. I acted like I did not care. But I was screaming inside for help for love. Now three years later I am a drug and alcohol counselor in redding.  Sometimes its just a kind word. Sometimes its more than that.  Something mental. But it is best to be on guard.

    • Sara, your comment made my day. I applaud you for what must have been a lot of work on your part. Your clients are so fortunate to have you, and our community is better because of you. Congratulations.

  78. Avatar Curtis Scott says:

    Dear Ms. Chamberlain:
    This comment will doubtless result in my being labeled a dunder-headed fool who has missed the entire point of the article. So be it. But, as much as it is a small criticism of a seemingly irrelevant bit of the article, it is also a lament for what has become the lost art of copyediting in our new and electronic media.
    You wrote, “. . . I lock my doors, though I confess, I feel embarrassed and hope they don’t hear the click of locks.”  How old and antique of a car do you drive? For many years now, the doors on automobiles automatically lock once you shift into gear. Such is the case on my eighteen year old, low end Chevy.
    Granted, this is a minor detail. But if you are wrong about or (worse yet) inventing a small detail like this then how is the reader to trust anything else you write?
    A single phrase, such as, “Unfortunately, my doors do not automatically lock . . .” would have avoided the problem. Once upon a time, these were the questions copyeditors were trained to ask and remedy.

    • Barbara Rice Barbara Rice says:

      My 2003 Nissan does not have automatic locking.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      I have a 2007 Prius. The doors do NOT automatically lock! Just because your car operates in that fashion does not mean ALL cars operate in that fashion. Shocking, I know. I agree with your first comment.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Neither does my 2016 Subaru.

    • Avatar T.i.m. says:

      You can buy a new Tundra with manual locks and hand-crank windows for the low low price of $30,000.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Curtis Scott, perhaps you’ll learn from this little episode that if you’re going to accuse a journalist of misrepresenting things, it’s best to make you that you aren’t misrepresenting things.

      We have this marvelous thing called the internet. It ain’t that difficult to make sure that you aren’t talking out of a particular orifice.

  79. Avatar wmw says:

    Read this, and weep.  Holy sh*t.  No wonder we are drowning in crime, state-wide.   My former community of Santa Maria, had 26 murders, in 2015, more per capita than lovely Baltimore MD.   MS13 and drugs.  Murdered retired grandmother from the USAF, by an illegal that had been deported previously.   Murdered, and THEN raped afterwords.


  80. Avatar Tani Kelley says:

    I know quite a few houseless people. Their stories are all different and I would love to share them. These people are mostly forgotten by society. If you are interested in finding out some of their stories please let me know. I am a spiritual counselor to alot of different people but mainly the houseless. Homeless means without a country. Everyone who lives on these streets are United States citizens.

  81. Avatar K. Beck says:

    Here you go:

    How about prison reform? Instead of locking people away and letting them rot there, get them some help. I can hear the screaming already. Before you jump on the keyboard cot call me a “fuzzy headed liberal,” here is why: some day they will get out of jail! They will have to go somewhere, and then what? They have zero skills, probably have mental problems (because if they didn’t before they went in, they got them while they were in), and the only thing they learned while they were locked up is how to be a better criminal, and they will most likely be living somewhere NEAR YOU!


    Start beating on your CA legislators. They can make this change.

  82. Avatar Thomas says:

    If you truly want to solve these problems you cannot surrender to the temptation of prejudices that offer absolute dismissals. “They’re all lazy.”, “They only want drugs.”, “They did this to themselves.”, “They’re just manipulating the system.”
    These are all mental exercises to relieve the observer of doubt or obligation. They don’t offer anything except that.

    The truth is there is no “they”. There as many reasons to be homeless as there are homeless people. There is no single solution, no singular thing you aim a governing force at to solve this problem. There has never been a society without homeless people, there likely never will be. There are people who WANT to be homeless. That doesn’t mean they deserve to fade away.

    So what do you do?
    You stop seeing it as a problem, and start seeing them as people.

    No person, homeless, hopeless and addicted to drugs is going to suddenly pull them self up by the bootstraps without help and become a contributing member of society. You have to address the person, as a person, with the respect and care you would want yourself. Even if they don’t seem to deserve it. Even if they fight it the first 100 times… You give them the tools they need to help themselves.

    You build homes for the homeless. you feed the hungry, you offer safe places for people to both do and get off of their drugs and you stop the people who are offering them in the first place. And if you can’t do those things you support and vote for people who can.
    It is that simple. All complications that fight that simplicity are logically untenable.

    I was a typical, hard working young man when the job market tanked. Zero criminal record, no habits. But I was also inexperienced. By bad luck and coincidence I found myself with $12 in my bank account and a 30 day notice in my hand.
    There was nothing in those days. The SMART center was full of work I had no training in (Quite a few pyramid schemes too) . I did everything you were supposed to, I hoofed it to every damn business in this town, nothing stuck. Nobody wants to hire someone without an address, no matter how nicely you clean up.
    After 40 days I had to leave all of my possessions and just drift.
    There was plenty of “get a job” to go around… Not so much “Here is one.”. There was plenty of “Wow, life is hard” But no so much “Let me give you a hand.”
    The conservatives were all about encouragement but not about solutions, the liberals were all about solutions, but not about making them happen.
    Most Christians? Plenty of “God bless you.” or “God saves those who save themselves” Not so many loaves or fishes. People talk an awful lot about what Jesus did or would do, but they want no part of it themselves.

    Thanks to a medical condition, most food offered at shelters would put me in the hospital. But because I wasn’t a single mother, or 100% disabled, there was just… Nothing… And yeah, if my situation had lasted longer I might have looked for relief. The privileged have no clue how hard it is to stay off drugs when you’re homeless. When you have nothing, escape is everything.

    If not for those people who gave me bills out their window I’d be dead. If not for those people who gave me a chance, who looked at me with humanity, gave me a couch and a shower and the opportunity to breathe and say “Now that I’m not surviving, how do I live?” I’d still be out there.

    It takes bravery to walk up to someone without judgement and genuinely inquire as to how you can help. But that bravery is needed. On a personal and systemic level.

    The answer is basic human kindness. Every time. EVERY. TIME.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Very well written statement! I agree….there is NO Them…..I hear it time and time again….“Those People” need to…..but only when people realize….there is Not Them…’s all WE or US…..then….then things will start to change….Compassion might come around again!

      We are all in this thing called life together….we share a common source…..

    • I hear you, Thomas.  Thank you for the reality check, and for sharing your story with us.

      May I ask, how are you doing now?

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      Thomas, in 1974 I was living in a motel room with my pregnant wife and toddler son in Anderson.  The timber industry had died and I went to every business from, then Central Valley, to Corning knocking on doors looking for work.  There was none.  My wife and son moved into another motel room with her sister and husband and their son.  I left and went down to San Francisco, I had worked there before, and found a minimum wage job.  It took six months, during that time my oldest daughter was born, before I could move my family to an apartment in Concord.  After four years I moved back to Anderson but I had to commute to the Bay Area weekly for work.  Finally I was able to find work in Redding that enabled me to quit commuting to the Bay Area.  My story is not unique as many in Shasta and Trinity Counties did the same.  The economy in the north state has always been poor after the timber industry died.  Finding a decent job where there are so few is frustrating.  Even after I came back I was thinking of moving back to the bay area or to Reno for work.  Then I stumbled on to the sub custodian jobs with the school districts.  It took over seven years of being on call before I finally landed a permanent job with the school district.  But my route to retirement is not there any more for others.

      The north state has never been great for high paying jobs.  When I retired and started collecting Social Security, my highest three years of pay were the last three years I worked in the Bay Area as an auto mechanic nearly thirty years before I retired.

    • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

      Yeah, while I seldom give money to those folks holding signs at the exits of parking lots or entrances of businesses, it’s hard for me to buy into the “never give them money” sentiment. When I do give money, it’s usually to people who don’t ask. Maybe it doesn’t help in the long run, but if it makes that day a little easier for the person, I’m okay with that. I’m not convinced that giving a Band-Aid is always worse than no Band-Aid.

      Thanks for your story, Thomas.

  83. You article reminded me of a song I heard few years back call Dead In The Eyes by Wookiefoot Love your way of looking at the world we live into today.
    Do you think it will ever get better?

  84. Avatar Joanne Lobeski Snyder says:

    I had next to nothing when I arrived in Redding,  My brother and I shared an apartment for a few months  but  Dam Builder’s houses were also available and affordable. ($100 a month) I got to town, walked down Market Street and got a job in a restaurant.  I had a teaching credential when I came to town but it took my 16 years to finally get a teaching job that paid enough so that my husband and I could even imagine saving for retirement.  I worked at the mill, I worked for a short-lived holistic health newspaper, cleaned houses and had assorted other jobs.  The huge difference between then and now is that  first and last rent, credit check, verification of employment, references,  cleaning deposit and fees to get utilities turned on make finding a place to live next to impossible.

    Hard is one thing.  Impossible is another thing all together.

    Excellent article Doni.

  85. first things first….look up the definition of transient/homeless and vagrant.i think it needs to be noted that vagrant is the term to use when describing the problem in  redding.i go out and clean encampments on my own,because it is an easy way to participate and see/make a difference.i have no feelings for the vagrants walking the streets,but i do have compassion for some.however,the needs of the many,outweigh the needs of the few,or the one.resources would be better utilized on the individuals that can function.most of them are already mentally gone and cannot participate in even the most basic of functions,like bathing.i have taken the approach that i must look out for fellow citizens that are victims of the petty theft,car stealing,burglary and other crimes.therefore i have no use for the vagrants that have now become an “infestation”.i’m only going to help people that contribute on a daily basis.remember,most of the vagrants chose their path and it is not my fault,or anyone else’s fault.put the blame where it your life the best you can,but we will have to take a stand against these kind of people.

  86. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Is Steve Towers away?  He hasn’t weighed in on this piece, and he’s one who moved his business out of Redding.

  87. Avatar Chris says:

    How about instead of writing a article about your fears of what you don’t understand, conduct interviews with these people?  Get out of your bubble.  They are human beings just like you.  Stop looking to “appoint” a so called “leader” to address the issue.  Be a part of the solution not the problem. This is not a Redding, ca problem.  It’s all over the us. California just happens to have the highest rate.  There’s the elite upper class, and poverty well fare class and the middle class that are either on the brink of living in the streets or are moving out of California to neighboring states.

  88. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    To me, it’s pretty simple:

    1.  There are actions that could be taken to mitigate the “people problem” that has plagued Redding for the past few years.  Pretending that there are silver bullets (e.g., harass the homeless until they leave) is foolish waste of time.  What needs to happen: Identify programs that have been effective elsewhere.

    2.  Actions that have proved effective elsewhere don’t come free.  Ever.

    3.  Redding’s citizens voted down a modest sales tax increase to address public safety.  Thus, there are no available funds to implement programs that would improve Redding’s “people problem.”

    The defeat of the sales tax was the last straw.  But that defeat followed the lukewarm (at best) reception to the Blueprint for Public Safety, an attempt to build a reality-based strategic plan for dealing with the “people problem.” Alas, Redding’s regressives didn’t care for the original draft.  Jail, jail, jail—that’s the only answer.

    After five years of living in Redding, we moved back to our place in Palo Cedro a few months ago.  After repeated vehicle break-ins and vandalism incidents at my downtown Redding office, I moved my business to Palo Cedro as well.  Yes, I’m a rat abandoning a sinking ship—there’s nothing virtuous about running away from a problem.  But I’m 58 years old, and quality of life—what I’ve got left of it—means a lot to me.  YOLO, you  know.

    Redding’s pseudo-moderate regressive politics are not built for problem-solving.  Too many of its citizens prefer constant pining for a return to a past ideal state that never existed, because it doesn’t cost anything to daydream about the imaginary past.


    • Avatar name says:

      That last sentence – nailed it…

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Glad to read your post, Steve.  I thought you were ignoring us!

      • I love the relationship you all have with one another. Pretty sweet. 🙂

        • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


          Thanks for this article that has stimulated such interesting commentary from a wide spectrum of viewpoints. Terri and I  love and live in the Downtown, and though we could afford to live elsewhere, remain committed to what we see as a potentially beautiful town in an incomparably scenic outdoor area. We walk to restaurants and the Cascade in complete safety, bike from home to the River Trail and beyond, have great neighbors, and feel ourselves fortunate to enjoy our old but comfortable 1900 home. So enthusiastic are we about the positive potential changes in our community that we have renewed our “Redding vows.”

          Of course there have been both positive and negative changes in the 39 years I have been fortunate to have lived here, but none of the challenges are insurmountable.  Please don’t give up.

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        Me too. I really feared that I’d hurt his feelings.   🙂


        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          I think we should all meet and hoist a glass.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I was butt-hurt for days.

          Really, I was out in the field, working 12-hour days in the sun and not feeling like getting online at the end of the day—what I wanted to do instead was drink a beer and pass out on the couch a half-inning into watching the dismal Giants.

          But it’s possible that I also had a premonition of the foul things that Hal had posted about me from the comfort of some air-conditioned frou-frou coffee house while I was behind the mule, plowing away.

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Identify the problems….see what has worked in other areas to address/help the problems….say yes to Prop 64 (tax money and job creation) OR find other funding. Work on the problems….adjust as necessary along the way….and let us remember….Saying NO to Prop 64 ALSO means NO State Grants….double edge Sword here…there’s a consequence to saying NO…..

      It all starts with Funding…….

      I rest my case……until more info is uncovered…..

      And Yes Jimmy…….. These are Elipses………   ……   …….

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        This to and fro about the use of ellipses has prompted me to research the subject a bit.

        Did you know that ellipses is the plural form of two different English words? Me neither. Hot damn. I love passing on such stuff, because it makes me feel smart for a minute or two.

        Also, I’ve been under the misconception for decades that a proper ellipsis must have only three dots ( . . . ). It appears that there isn’t universal agreement on that one.

        But to me, the three-dot ellipsis sure looks more purdy.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I prefer six dots when I’m trying to evoke the feeling of a pregnant pause……if you know what I mean by “pregnant pause,” and I think that you do.  Technically, that’s not an ellipsis, though.

          An ellipsis is…well, you know.  If you don’t, you’re an absolute…oh, I should hold my tongue.

          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Come one, come all to Wyoming August 21st.  We are having a solar ellipsis.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Steve, at the risk of hurting your feelings all over again, I must point out that most style guides call for a space between the dots . . .

          • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

            The spaced ellipsis of Chicago Manual of Style version is prettier.  However, I’m a lazy slave to my AP-style word processing software.  Software that bows to the AP style automatically converts three consecutive dots into a single “…” character.  Once that conversion is complete, you can’t even drop a cursor between the damned dots.

            I don’t like it, but . . .

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          The “purdier” spaced ellipsis is worth it for me to type period space period space period space.  But you know how Virgos are.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Yes Beverly, one of the longest relationships I had before getting married in my late thirties was with a Virgo woman. So, yeah.    🙂

            Steve, I admit that I’ve only spent about a half hour of my life skimming an AP style guide. I’ve never touched one again. Any guide that just about forbids the use of Oxford commas is probably the work of Satan.

      • Avatar Richard Christoph says:

        I am devoted to the Oxford comma and to the late great Herb Caen’s three dot journalism. . .

        • James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

          How sad that we have to resort to the Oxford comma, just to prevent ambiguity! I suppose it is OK, used judiciously, but do we really need the harsh glare of constant, logical clarity?

    • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

      Maybe too many people witnessed law enforcement doing lousy things to want to give them any more tax money.  Too many squad cars running red lights, not using turn signals, waiting for the “over 68 mph” crowd to write the easy tickets, not showing up when called.

      Maybe not rely on a church for contributions when they arrogantly expected citizens to buy them more toys that are not visibly doing anything to make the public safer.  Maybe get some beat officers to help address mental health issues on 273 before they become a problem.  And don’t tell me the money isn’t there when city managers are only NOW being asked to contribute to their own pensions.

  89. Avatar ROBERT BERRY says:

    I recently moved back to Chico after 40 years away.  I was dismayed to find that the crime/homeless/transient/drug/mental illness issues are here and growing, not dissimilar to what you so articulately describe in your article.

    One response was to start working with the Chico Community Watch group here.  I know there is also a group operating in Redding.

    Another step was for me to volunteer to help organize ongoing cooperative efforts between our City Council, CPD, CSUC, Downtown Business Associations, and other local community groups, all who have a vested interested in this clear and present threat to our public safety and quality of life.  These values were high on my list in my decision to retire here in Chico.

    As a start, I researched what I could find about what was known about the problem, who was advocating what, and what direction Chico was headed in in response.  I wrote an article citing my sources, which is posted on the CCW Facebook page, here: /

    Two issued I want to highlight;  1) most people are concerned, but some believe that enforcement efforts are at attack on the homeless.  This is false.  It is a response to crime and other public safety infractions, such as camping on public lands.  2) many state and Federal policies have lost their connection to common sense.  Proposition 47, which lowered the classification of certain crimes, including drug crimes.  This was a cynical move to reduce the cost of prisons, with no consideration of what happens to the addicts that are turned out of jail, the crowing of country jails as prison populations are being increased, largely because of the court mandates to artificially reduce prison populations.  This is very similar to the move to close state mental health facillities, under the theory they would be provided at the local level, and of course this didn’t happen.

    So between enforcement and sentencing policies, enabling the hopelessly addicted to barely maintain themselves in the deplorable, unsupervised states you describe,  through irresponsible distribution of support services in a “fire and forget” manner, without focusing on anything that might lead to progress.  The result is that we are enabling and encouraging the ongoing drug problems through neglect, all of which leads to increases in homelessness, chronic health problems, mental illness, crimes, and a life in complete disarray not only for them, but all of the innocent citizens who also suffer as a result.  This is anything but compassionate.

    Please visit our FB page, like the article,  and support your local Community watch organizations and join Nextdoor. Get to know your neighbors and make your politicians understand that this is one of their most important duties to their constituents.   Rob Berry

    • Avatar T.i.m says:

      I agree that criminal anti-social behavior needs to be punished, but I believe your logic with respect to Chico’s recent public safety laws is shaky.  Humans need to rest and defecate; with no legal means of doing so, the mere act of being human is therefore criminalized.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but Chico closed its only public restroom to nighttime use in April.  According to reports, the bathrooms were being severely misused — criminal acts which should have been the focus of enforcement.

      Likewise, it is against the law to rest (sit/lie) on public property in Chico.  It is also against the law to trespass onto private property.  Therefore it is illegal for the homeless to rest inside city limits.  Is resting itself a crime?

      • Avatar Bruce Gerard says:


        Chico closed the public bathrooms because people were destroying them, and using them for shooting up, sleeping, etc.  After months of public pressure, the City of Chico decided to try opening the facilities up again. During the FIRST week of being reopened, a city worker found a deceased man in one of the bathrooms.  He died from drug overdose… Inside the bathroom.  Not such a great start to getting things back on track.

        • Avatar T.i.m says:

          Yeah I agree it is a problem, but if you want to criminalize bad behavior you need to make sure it is possible to actually comply with the law – even if that means staffing the restroom with an overnight security guard.

          What I found particularly interesting in Robert’s analysis was the fact that over 6.5 years, there were 25 individual Chicoans arrested 25-100 times, with one of them being charged with 160 violations.  This is similar to Redding Police’s analysis which shows 37% of those they arrest will be arrested 5 or more times per year.

          Any solution needs to have both stick and carrot; these incorrigibles need to removed from the streets for at least a year.

  90. Avatar Ann says:

    It’s  not just Redding.  We moved back to Redding in 2014 after living in Antioch and I feel 100% safer here than I did there.  If you follow the news for any city, it is a huge problem.  Portland and Seattle are fighting the same issues.  It is sad and I feel it’s only going to get worse.

    It makes me so sad to see the zombie looking people walking around.  That is someone’s sister, brother, uncle, etc….

    I saw this video posted on one of the Redding crime pages and when I played it for my husband, he was shocked as this is where he grew up.

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


      Many thanks for posting this informative though cosmically depressing video. It certainly puts Redding’s problems into perspective and further heightens appreciation for what our town has to offer. Clearly, some folks need to travel more to see what other cities are dealing with.

  91. Avatar cheyenne says:

    The reason this article, and others like it, resonate with me is that I retired and left Redding area in 2006.  Not because of terrible conditions but to be closer to my grandchildren.  I worked the evening shift at SUHSD high schools which meant I didn’t get off work until after 11PM or later if I was cleaning up after a game, dance or play.  Never, ever did I encounter the problems I read on these pages and in comments about the homeless/vagrants.  I would go home right through, and stop sometimes, at these places in Redding in the middle of the night.  The worst things I encountered at the schools were skunks in the garbage.  It is hard for me to believe that Redding, despite the recession which was felt all over the nation, turned into this nightmare I see described on these pages in a decade.  And for those few who say it has always been this way in Redding, you are wrong, this is new.

  92. Avatar Bruce Gerard says:

    As others have said.. this problem is happing all across the Nation.  Our society   ( at least a good portion of it ) appears to be in deep trouble.

  93. Avatar Dawn Marie says:

    and another thing – the Woman first mentioned with the “soot” clothing most likely had to flee from a fire. Count your blessings – We are All God’s Children – a little compassion – kindness – very easy to condemn not expend…..

  94. Avatar Bill O Rights says:

    As many have said, this is not a problem that is limited to Redding. With but a few exceptions, this plague affects the entire state. Been to Eureka lately? 

    The well meaning but hopelessly ignorant voters of California have passed legislation which ultimately resulted in a flood of Addicts, dealers, thugs and theives washing up on our streets. With the recent legalization of Cannabis California has the countrywide reputation as the land of Pot and Get out of Jail Free. More and more of our transients are from states that do not enable their lifestyle. Yet California no longer has the power of the Penal Code or threat of incarceration to stem this tide.

    I could go on about how Brown & Co fooled the bleeding hearts into voting this disaster into existence so the State could save (B)illions over the next decade simply thru prisoner attrition or by enumerating the costs now passed directly onto California residents and businesses, but heck, we were paying that in taxes to support the penal system anyway. The problem is we now have the problem in our lap and our taxes are going up not down… Imagine that.

    As a Redding Area lifer I can’t imagine pulling up my 55 year old roots and moving to another state. By the same token California has become incompatable with my personal convictions in far too many ways. It is to the point now that my wife and I are considering selling our home and moving out of state.

    I find that thought very, very sad…

  95. Here is an article that features a homeless person’s picture and personal story and answers some of the questions posed in this article:

  96. Avatar Eric_graves says:

    I think people need something to do and I think that if they are going to stay in the town they should be given something to do like sweep up pick up garbage or take care of certain areas in town that are neglected and I am sure there are other things that they could do in exchange they should be given a safe place to sleep showers and decent clothes and if they want to participate in a system like that then they can stay in town otherwise I think they should be given their Walking Papers I just got back from Indonesia and everybody in Indonesia have something to do people don’t just lay around they all do something even if it’s very small likes keeping an area of the street cleaning and tidy I think. If you don’t contribute to a town you shouldn’t be able to stay there with the right people in charge there could be stuff for them to do I live in Santa Cruz California and people just lay all over the streets here I just feel that people that have something constructive to do seem to get along in society better. There are some people out there living on the streets not all of them. That would love to take care of an area like a few storefronts and a parking lot sweeping and washing off the sidewalks in the morning in exchange for some food in the safe place to sleep which would not cost that much and they could make sure that other homeless people don’t come by and crap out their area that they are in charge of in taking care of in exchange I was thinking like a small garden shed or something like that in the back of a commercial place just a few ideas I had not real strong in the written word but I’ve been on the streets before I know what it’s like just because you look bad and smell bad and have shabby clothes doesn’t mean you’re a bad person there are some good people out on the streets but there are some bad ones too

    • Eric, you handle the written word just fine, and I like the way you think. I

      have some similar ideas regarding giving people a place where they can have a sense of purpose. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  97. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    Fabulous article about a growing problem in our society as a whole! Bring back the draft! Everyone over 18 should serve this wonderful country in some capacity such as Military, Conservation Corps, AmeriCorps etc. Everyone needs a purpose in life as a foundation for future success. Some of the finest soldiers in Vietnam were draftees who came from meager environments and went on to succeed in life beyond their expectations! In the words of JFK: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”!

    • I think two years of mandatory service to our country – whether in hospitals, sea ports, parks or in the military – is actually a good idea.

      Thank you for your service, Chuck.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        My thought exactly.  Israel requires some sort of mandatory service after high school.  Someone wrote here that women aren’t physically up to construction work, but much of Israel’s mandatory service is in the military.  As Ann Bancroft said in  G. I. Jane, “How much strength does it take to pull a trigger?”

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        The military is something all high school seniors should look into.  My oldest daughter graduated from Anderson High School and joined the Army.  Her college was paid for and she saw the world.  She did do two tours in Bosnia so it does come with some risks.  But, the military does not just take anybody.  They, like many employers want educated and physically fit people, and those who don’t fit those parameters will find they don’t get to chose their specialties.  My daughter made sure her grades were extremely good and as a cheerleader she stayed in shape.  Good things come to those who work for it.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      The problem with this idea is the simple fact that not EVERYONE was drafted, ever. Rich kids were exempt. The ones that did serve never saw combat. If, in fact, everyone DID get “drafted,” and there was a lottery for who got what jobs, then fine. But that is not the way this government works.

      • Avatar Tom says:

        So spot on again, K. Beck. I wouldn’t be in favor of mandatory civil service without assurances that it wouldn’t be co-opted as a means to divert more of our poor and disadvantaged into the imperial machine for the greater good of the elite class.

        And those assurances couldn’t be believed.

        The problem isn’t a simple lack of individual direction for the youth of our country, the problem is a lack of equal opportunity, period. Instead of finding a way to create an ever-greater generation of soldiers, we should look into an ever-greater generation of scholars. Instead of providing them the “opportunity” to serve their country, let’s provide them the (universal) opportunity to take their education as far as they want it to go, regardless of where they started from.

        If we must compromise on this, we give them the choice.

        But, honestly, until the day we stop siphoning the gains of society only upwards we’re going to continue to create a larger and larger “hopeless class.” The answer for them should be anything but conscription and the glories of war.

  98. Avatar Liz A. says:

    Civilization going down without a fight— such a shame —- especially since it is global – Paris, we will miss it the most.

  99. Avatar Liz A. says:

    The Anaheim homeless camps video was instructive, this is now global and in our previously, most civilized countries.

    • Avatar K. Beck says:

      I am looking for the “open forum” where people can post random thoughts, but I can’t find it so I am posting this here. Want to get a good idea about why people end up homeless? Poverty is at the base of this, like it or not. Attend this:

      ACE Study of Shasta County
      Posted: 07 Aug 2017 08:57 AM PDT

      Come hear SCCAR President Susan Wilson present the findings of the ACE Study of Shasta County on Monday, August 7, 2017 at 6:00 p.m. at the United Way Community Room just north of the Senior Center off Benton Dr., Redding CA.
      Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACE’s are defined as stressful or traumatic experiences. ACEs may include abuse, neglect and a range of household dysfunction such as witnessing domestic violence, or growing up with substance abuse, mental illness, parental discord, or crime in the home. ACEs are strongly related to development and prevalence of a wide range of health problems, including substance abuse, throughout the lifespan.
      “The ACE Study confirms with scientific evidence that adversity during the developmental years increases the risk of physical, mental and behavioral problems later in life. The ACE Study and other research using the study’s framework have taught us that ACEs are the leading cause of health and social problems in our nation and the most powerful determinant of the public’s health.”
      “A study in Shasta County shows that this county has higher ACE scores than the rest of CA. The Public Health Dept is launching a project that will educate all of the public about this important study to help develop strategies to address that finding.” Susan Wilson
      Join the Shasta County Citizens Advocating Respect for a presentation and conversation about this important study.




  100. Avatar Royal Burnett says:

    This is copy of a letter I sent to the Record Searchlight in 2015. I agree with the concept of a designated place for the homeless, but don’t think Stillwater would work. its simply too far from the services the homeless require. I think the area around the old County Hospital  and Jail farm would serve their needs much better. Tiny houses for the homeless are a Yuppie fantasy. We need something that can be put in place and implemented in short order. If it works or has promise, then we can develop a planned community for the homeless, but in the meantime, let’s do something.

    Why must we try to re invent the wheel ? Tiny houses will only provide shelter for a chosen few families while the numbers of the homeless are legion. Tiny houses and structured communities might have a place in the long term plan, but we need solutions now. The homeless sleeping on the lawn of our Civic Center and bathing in the bathroom of our County library is a disgrace…Shame on the City Fathers and County Supervisors for not recognizing the problem and providing a solution.
    I propose that Shasta County and Redding City open a combination shelter and soup kitchen using the same model as Calfire uses when they set up fire camp at Anderson Fairgounds. Feed two meals a day. A simple breakfast ( scrambled eggs,toast and hot cereal ) from 7 to 9 in the morning and a soup or stew type meal for supper served from 5 to 7 PM. The ideal location for this camp would be on the existing County property on Breslaur Way, next to the Welfare Offices and the Old County Hospital.
    The City and County would have to build sheds similar to those used at the fairgrounds…nothing fancy, just a place to get out of the weather. Simple restrooms could tie into the City sewer system which should be adequate since it handled the Hospital in past years.

    Police protection should be provided cooperatively between the City PD and Sheriff using one sworn officer with non sworn officers as staff.

    The Hope Van could set up and provide health and mental health services.

    Calfire or the National Guard could be called on to provide a Mobile Field Kitchen . Would it be possible to have a Sugar Pine Conservation Camp Crew staffing the kitchen ? Would the County jail be able to provide any of the cleaning and maintenance ? Could we utilize the California Conservation Corps in any way ? Would the various Church and Mission groups be interested in participating ?

    There is simply no reason that these people…the homeless, the drug addicted and mentally ill should be able to take over our City. They should be forced to conform to our rules, we should not be forced to conform to their desires.


    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Agreed!….a Tent city there at that location…it’s close to services and downtown…would need a monitor or two….issue citations to those that don’t want to use the services there if they are in different areas causing issues….Water Proof all weather heavy duty tents….shower/restroom facilities…

      You can only help those…that want to help themselves….

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      I worked for a company in Alaska that provided catering and housekeeping to camps in the bush using Hansen WeatherPorts.  These resembled Quonset huts, could be heated and cooled, and withstood Alaska’s climate.   They would be a quick alternative to tiny houses and would house many more people per unit than tiny houses can.

  101. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    While I didn’t count the comments on this piece, I bet you’ve set a record for responses.  City of Redding employees raises are subject to yearly review and state guidelines regarding pay equity…remember we’re not in a Right To Work State, which is code for pay discrimination.   The transients/vagrants/AB109ers are actually being attended to by one, for the moment, Community Outreach Worker and the Cops on Bikes, have you not noticed fewer transients in Carnegie Park ?  BTW, the food trucks had a strange mix of alcohol and children’s garden, not to mention the food on ceramic plates, a health code violation right there, unless each truck has a dishwasher.  Sorry TBR folks, but you won’t get the 10,000 valid signatures in the time required, folks know how much it will cost the City {$200,000} when an election is right around the corner, where you can vote them in or out of office for far little of your precious tax dollars.   I too walk around the downtown core and see all that’s been mentioned above, but I’ve decided long ago not to let anyone or anything run me out of my town.  I too had to use pepper spray on a 109er, but after a few days I felt justified, it was me or him.  The real culprit is the fact that we’re among the hottest climates in the nation, that will effect anyone’s sensibilities.

  102. Avatar Gerrine Peckenpaugh says:

    I moved. That’s my solution. But , of course, the homeless problem was not the core reason. However, it did figure in greatly because it appeared that no community organization such as the city or county was interested in working toward a solution.

    I found that the First United Methodist Church in downtown Sacramento has allowed organizations to utilize their building at night for a select group of homeless folks that want to get back to work. They sleep in the church on cots at night and  local organizations help them and provide food. They have a small kitchen and cots in one room. During the day they go to their new jobs. A church member must be in the facility at night when people are in the building. Members volunteer for this. When one group of people graduate to apartments, they start over with a new group of people who want to change their life.

    Another group provides enrichment activities for homeless children after their school day. They come to the church for music, art and other activities. This is provided, again, by a local organization. The church just lends their facility.

    I wonder why the county couldn’t lend a piece of land for a camp. Someone ante up for the porta potties. Move the shower bus down there.  That way the children would have some stability and social services could find families more easily. This seems more sensible than chasing people from canyon to canyon and wasting all the money it costs to clean things up. And then there is the need for new tents, blankets etc.  Such a waste. I’m sure the insurance item is keeping the county from lending out some of their land on Breslauer.

  103. Avatar CANDICE says:

    that was a awesome story if only we had more people out there that can feel some kind of symophy than we have a chance.if we as a city come to gather and fight to help our people and they aswell have to want it then i beleave we can do it,but sitting here not  doing anything except complaing and allowing RAT PATROL  to keep doing the things there doing .i dont know that makes us no better than them