The Meanest County In California

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This morning I got up, made a quadruple latte, began perusing my Facebook feed and ran across a story about the Redding Police Department receiving naloxone kits. Naloxone is the miracle drug that can revive overdosed opioid junkies like Lazarus from the tomb. There were already a dozen comments on the post, and I knew before looking that at least one of them was going to earnestly suggest why bother raising the dying deplorables from our streets; we’re better off without them.

I knew this because I live in the meanest county in California.

For those of you who haven’t figured out the score in Shasta County, a local criminal defense attorney once put it to me like this: America incarcerates more people per capita than any nation on the planet, California incarcerates more people per capita than any state in the nation and Shasta County incarcerates more people per capita than any county in the state.

Shasta strong!

Those numbers of course are drawn from the good old days, before AB 109, when Shasta County shipped all of its criminals, including nonviolent drug offenders, off to the state prison system, often with longer sentences than they would have received in other counties. Now, after a decade of prison reform, those very same nonviolent drug offenders, mixed in with the new breed of alienated white trash junkie addict thieves, are ensuring our lives are just as miserable as their own.

Alienation is the key feature of our Lazaruses, opioids offer temporary relief, until dope sickness sinks in. Then, a junkie can get mean, real mean, you betcha. They’ll smash your car window in, creepy-crawl your house, torture your cat just for kicks, looking for anything to steal and sell for a fix. That’s not to mention the genuine crazies, who urinate and defecate in our general direction, a message I’m certain is meant to be taken quite literally.

No one likes encountering such behavior. It can be uncomfortable. Life-threatening. Anger is the natural reaction and the temptation is to take it down to the street level. It spills over into vitriolic social media posts and story comments, ratcheting up the meanness of our discourse. Any attempt to inject civility into the conversation is melted down as silly snowflake speak. We’re trapped in a feedback loop of anger and getting meaner by the post.

It’s no coincidence that the failed recall effort that began on a local Facebook page last year targeted the two Redding city council members who more than any other members currently sitting dared to suggest we might do something—besides lock them all up or bus them all out of town—for the down-and-out denizens among us. God forbid we address the multi-generational issues that have plagued this county for decades.

I was pleased that the recall effort failed, but disappointed that the group organizing it has of this writing not released the number of signatures it collected. I was hoping to get a peg on just how many mean-spirited voters there are in the city of Redding. Who was willing to put their name, address and phone number on that petition?

As it turns out, we may never know. I have a strange relationship with Take Back Redding, one of the Facebook groups that spurred the recall effort. Certain members of the group enjoyed sparring with me on posts and were disappointed when whoever was managing the page booted me out of the group last year. Every once in a while, when something hinky happens within the group, one of them will contact me.

Well, it seems like something hinky has happened, according to insiders. It’s too early to name names, but here’s the skinny: Some members of the recall effort who were in on it from the beginning claim that other members who joined later have hijacked the movement, and one of them is holding the signature count hostage, to what end a mystery.

I know, I know. It’s not much of a scoop. A bunch of angry people got together and formed a group, quickly devolved into infighting, then crashed and burned.

But maybe there’s a lesson in there somewhere. This has been going on for a long time now. There has been lots of finger pointing, some of it legitimate, at local law enforcement and government, who’ve attempted to address the issue via taxation at the ballot box only to be turned down every time.

Local officials understand that the grand project of prison realignment is here to stay and that we’re going to have to provide services to these people, including drug treatment, vocational rehabilitation and extra jail cells if necessary. If the tax measures they had proposed had passed, we might be well on our way to making Shasta County great again (if it ever was).

But it only takes a minority of mean-spirited people to knock down a tax measure in red county California, a minority who despite their love of law and order can’t seem to understand it takes tax money to fund public institutions, especially at the levels of incarceration they’re demanding.

So here we are, stuck in the shit, in the meanest county in California. That’s how we look to the outside world. Why would anyone want to come here?

I know I’m no angel. I can be one mean bastard. I’ve said and written many things in anger that I’ve later regretted. This meanness, it rubs off on you, like a virus. We’ve got to rise above it, and ask ourselves, what is it about here, Shasta County, that causes so many young men, mostly white, but a disproportionate number of blacks and latinos, to become so alienated from society? How do we stop it?

Until we all begin asking and seeking answers to such questions, it’s never going to end.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at
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101 Responses

  1. It’s an interesting and lamentable hypocrisy that the physical beauty of our natural surroundings encourages and supports those who harm it. Perhaps it is Redding’s gypsy, resource rich past which has come back to haunt our daily lives. Meanness and desperation are sides of the same coin. The Northern Piute were the only First Nation People to steal without provocation. They lived in the worst place the continent had to offer. Perhaps there is a parallel to our lawless present in what is below. Reforming those who have decided to live apart will not be easy or inexpensive.

    “We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.”… Aldo Leopold

    • You mean, it’s a Cadillac desert after all?

      • Randall Smith Randall Smith says:

        Although published nearly half a century apart, “Sand County Almanac” and “Cadillac Desert” do make some similar observations about the cause and effect relationship regarding our species’ inability to live in a sustainable fashion. Interestingly, many mammalians tend to have a cohort life span of about two million years. We are close and if we keep living in disharmony with ourselves and our planet, these matters will prove of little value. “The conservation of natural resources is the fundamental problem. Unless we solve that problem it will avail us little to solve the others.” Theodore Roosevelt

  2. Avatar conservative says:

    Fifteen years ago, Redding was fabulously optimistic. Spec houses were being built like crazy. I forgot the statistic, but Redding was one of the leading places. Trucks delivering loads of trusses and lumber were common. Homelessness and crime were hardly talked about. Many people subscribed to the newspaper. Field of Dreams, the new library, Stillwater, the grandiose city hall had popular support. Penguin Paddlers was selling so many kayaks, it seemed like ten percent of the cars in parking lots had a kayak rack. Shasta Wheelmen, Redding Mountain Bike, a fabulous trail system (among others) made Redding seem like a great place for pre-retirees and retirees. Lowe’s and Kohls were opening. Redding was a retail and healthcare Mecca. Someone with a flat tire in front of Redding Medical Center was likely to wind up with a coronary bypass, and many in the medical community were aware of it, including the nurses aides in Pediatrics at Mercy, but few people talked about the open secret. It seemed like the good news could never end.

    • Avatar conservative says:

      Fifteen years ago, Redding’s population and school enrollment were increasing. Baby boomers in their peak earning years or( just after when net worth peaks) were investing. Doctors were investing in medical office buildings and outpatient surgery centers. The economy was putting up impressive numbers like sales tax receipts. Redding had a high percentage of high school graduates and sent many to junior colleges and universities.

      It seemed like all the news then was good. Today, it seems like all the news is bad. There is speculation in business publications that Amazon will buy a retailer like Target or Kohls, like Amazon did buying Whole Foods. With consolidation in retail and increasing automation, the Amazon distribution center in Tracy or Reno can serve a Target or Kohls in Redding. What will happen to the empty retail buildings?

    • Avatar Tim says:

      15 years ago, we were spending less on public safety (even when adjusted for inflation) and had more officers and more jail beds. But certain city officials promised unrealistic benefits and now we’re spending ~$175,000/year per police officer.

      Even still, the city is paying essentially as much to service its debt (thanks to boondoggles like Stillwater) as it does for the entire police budget. So we have plenty of money, we’re just doing a terrible job allocating it effectively.

      PS: The joke about getting a flat tire in front of a certain Redding hospital also included getting an unnecessary hysterectomy — a procedure Redding doctors still perform at a rate twice the state average. #metoo?

    • Conservative, speaking of good news never ending, how about those national economic numbers? I sense a little irrational exuberance. Is it trickling down to Shasta County yet? I can’t tell.

      My dad got one of those bypasses. In his case, he needed it!

  3. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Shasta County is not alone in it’s troubles. Reading The World, Coos Bay’s newspaper, this weekend, they reported that property crime statistics have increased a lot the last year. The sheriff attributes the increase to drugs, he didn’t specify which, and the shortage of police officers that have never rebounded since the recession. A lot of counties can claim that statement.
    One thing in Coos Bay that attracts real hatreds on both sides is the proposed plan to be a natural gas export terminal for natural gas piped from the natural gas basin in Wyoming, Utah and Colorado.

    • Why would people be opposed to turning their scenic coastal city into a bomb?

      • Avatar K. Beck says:

        Thanks for the Chuckle Of The Day RV!

        • Avatar Gary Tull says:

          In immediate response to: “piped from the natural gas basin in Wyoming”, I LOL Touche, RV! Online comedy rarely gets better.

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        I was just pointing out the extreme difference between those who say it would turn Coos Bay with no proof that it would other than cite Nigeria’s exploding terminal into a bomb. And I think Oregon has better environmental restrictions than Nigeria. On the other side the unions and businesses cite how many well paying jobs and needed taxes the export terminal would produce. Another case of complaining about the crime and lack of money but wanting to do nothing about it.
        In a way Shasta County should feel lucky, they have nothing anyone else wants.

        • LNG infrastructure is fascinating, including the ships, but best viewed from a distance. It seems impossible that you can make a profit selling natural gas given all this infrastructure.

      • Avatar Lisa says:

        Because you just can’t find a whale to blow up whenever the mood strikes you!

  4. Avatar George Koen says:

    So many nails struck with but one hammer. Reality is, well, real. Poison darts trail unsheathed knives while desk jockeys ply their negative trade. Indeed this is a county and city verbose in ideas but an empty tank when it comes to action.

    Last night I encountered, on my way to place where I sleep ‘illegally’, a guy who has Cerebral Palsy along with very obvious mental health challenges. Long story short, I asked the officer who responded to my call to give this guy a ride to the mission but 2 blocks away. His answer was to wish us luck and drove away. Protect and serve at its finest right?

    I tried to start a round table to get each side to sit and seek resolutions acceptable to all. I suppose my bait stank because no one even nibbled. (Bridging the Divide), was the hopefulness efforts name.

    Sounds corny , but life is to short not to be nice. And the byproduct thereof leads to an uncluttered life, simplifies life creates a foundation upon which we can indeed make Shasta/COR nice again.

    Thanks R.v.

  5. Frank Treadway Frank Treadway says:

    Such pessimism, shame on all of you, there’s plenty to do in Redding/Shasta County, you but have to read any of the local periodicals and you can go to at least 3 free venues every night of the week. We have action groups that are actually working to better the vagrant/transient population, which has always been in Redding if you’ll recall going back to the 1950-60s. It’s not about Redding/Shasta County being mean, it’s about a few folks/groups not getting involved in the working groups and thinking they’re being shafted. And the ‘theory’ that someone hijacked the attempt at the recent ballot measure is a sour grapes joke, you gotta walk 10-12,000 households in Redding to get your message across, not set-up tables and wait for folks to come to you, that’s called being lazy. Yet you’ll turn out to sink a tax measure because you couldn’t afford to pay .25 cents more on a product. Don’t like Redding, move to Alabama. PS you should be thankful the RPD is progressive enough to use Naloxone, the life they save could be your own.

    • I think if I stayed off social media, Shasta County would seem like a nicer place.

    • Avatar Janis says:

      Or your son or your daughter or your mom or your dad or even your neighbor…but God forbid we show compassion to the down and out (sarcasm intended)

      • My son died in Redding…he wasn’t living there…passing through….I sat in the spot where he died. Corner of Pray rd. And Westside…I could see the peak of Lassen…Shasta county is gorgeous….that part of town is where people go with there pain of failure …hopelessness…’s a place where people die…or become forgotten…sad

  6. Avatar Dwayne Tayrien says:

    I find it very hard to show compassion but in the end compassion is what is right, and is what separates us from animals. Its easy to hate, its easy to “throw people away”. Its not easy doing what is right. Remember, the homeless person you see on the corner is someone’s mother, father, daughter, son, brother, or sister. I don’t have the answer to the problem, but I can confidently say that the problem will persist as long as we continue to throw people away and refuse to explore what the underlying causes of this scourge are.

  7. Avatar conservative says:

    One piece of good news for Shasta County: ATT AirGig, if testing goes well, will bring high speed internet to rural America.

    Very bad news: Fentanyl and derivatives, synthetics from N. Korea and other countries are much more potent, much more dangerous, easier to for the cartels to smuggle than opioids like heroin from poppies.

    • Avatar conservative says:

      Toward the end of the article referenced above, it mentions that one meter antennas on the top of utility poles on the utility right of way will also bring much better cell phone service to rural America. A Fedex truck which runs off a road lacking proper guard rails will activate the airbag when it rolls. The vehicle built in cell function will call for help. It should reduce the rate of bleeding to death from a ruptured spleen on rural roads.

    • I’ve been following these developments, it’s pretty awesome.

  8. Avatar Christian says:

    Shasta County is a canary in the Goldmine. The troubles that afflict us stem from our County to our state to our national policies and you know who’s in charge of that. Until we take this serious and start providing jobs education and health care in a rationale humane way our problems will follow us wherever we go. The solution is not in hammering down more on those who need the most or shipping them out of town. The solution starts with providing housing Healthcare job training jobs and when we have people that are ready to work we will have a turnaround in our economy. We also have to truthfully look at the policies that are currently shipping all the jobs out of our nation and see what we can do to retain that. The people shipping jobs are the people that are currently in charge of our nation and that crap is just simply got to stop. If it doesn’t as the Bible says the meek will indeed inherit the earth unless Trump blows it up in the nexts…

  9. Avatar AJ says:

    Thank you for the mirror. I don’t like what I see, but, as in physical mirrors, it seldom lies . . . Well, let’s see . . . If I move the light just so and turn my head just so, reality doesn’t seem QUITE as dire. . . . Because manipulating reality seems to be a favorite pastime of we humans.
    Thanks, R.V.

  10. Avatar Tim says:

    The final tally was 6,417 valid signatures and it was posted 5 days ago.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      California law requires 20% of jurisdictions with 10,000-49,999 registered voters to sign recall petitions and 15% of jurisdictions with 50,000-10,000.

      Redding has over 49,000 registered voters, which means the recall needed over 9,800 signatures. If Redding had 50,000 registered voters, it would need only 7,500 signatures. Perhaps the recall effort would have succeeded if they had turned it into a voter registration drive and got 1,000 non voters to both sign & register to vote?

      38,320 of Redding’s registered voters voted on Measure D in last year’s election — a turnout of 80%. For comparison, only 11,092 voted for Sullivan and 13,448 for Schreder in 2014.

    • I saw that number too, but I was uncertain as to its accuracy.

  11. James Montgomery James Montgomery says:

    It is easier to have compassion for the homeless when it is not your neighborhood they are trashing.
    Having just escaped Downtown Redding, I have some knowledge of the subject. During the 17 years I lived there, and watched it deteriorate, I talked with a lot of homeless folk, and saw how they live. I also had some important and hard-earned stuff stolen. There seem to be 3 types of homeless (with a lot of overlap, of course);
    1. the unfortunates. 10-20%- These are people whose lives simply imploded, and who are trying to make their way back into society. A lot of them make it, if they find employment and stay reasonably sober. They can be helped, and should be. The Mission actually gives a lot of them a way back.
    2. the insane. 30-40%. It is difficult to help these people, but our support system could certainly be better. Compassion for these people is easy to find, except for the violent ones, who are pretty common. They are very scary.
    3. the alcoholics/drug addicts- 50%, or more. These people mostly live by begging, stealing, prostitution, drug dealing, etc. If you don’t live downtown, and haven’t had your stuff stolen, don’t say they deserve compassion, too. They deserve incarceration, and a chance at recovery. Handouts only enable them to continue a dissolute lifestyle. This may sound harsh, but few of us really try to recover from addiction until the consequences catch up with us. Of course we should save their lives when they OD, but putting them back on the street in the same condition just means they will be back to stealing, tomorrow, with further emergencies to follow. How does this help them?
    I have come to believe that the first homeless service that should be provided is employment, and its ok with me if it is government-provided, socialism or not. Better to give people a chance to earn a living and pull themselves up with dignity, than to give them a free ride to hell. Those who refuse to work need to find their bottom faster.
    As to the insane, many of whom simply cannot do useful work on a regular basis, my heart truly goes out to them. Some of them suffer terribly, and they all seem to hate their meds. No answers, but we should be looking.
    As to the tax measure, it would probably have passed if the residents of Redding had more trust in the City Council, but that is another subject.

  12. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’ve lived in Shasta County for 25+ years, and Redding/Shasta County is the meanest place I’ve ever lived. It’s easy to overestimate what that means. Is Shasta County radically meaner than Siskiyou and Tehama counties? Nope. Do other places I’ve lived lack meanness? Of course not. It’s all meanness/niceness by degrees, everywhere you go.

    But still: Redding is the meanest place I’ve lived. Far meaner and dumber than other places I’ve lived significant portions of my life: Davis, Sacramento, Steamboat Springs and Denver, CO. (Yes, I think there are healthy correlations between meanness, dumbness, and self-righteousness.)

    A microcosm of how this place continues to baffle me: The McConnell Foundation has provided the funding for numerous and significant improvements to this community, and is still reviled by a large and vocal cohort of the population. The community’s sense of gratitude is close to zero, and very often hostile.

    As for Redding proper, after the recent 0.5% sales tax hike went down in flames, I decided to move back to Palo Cedro for the remainder of my days in Shasta County—home and business. It’s not that I thought the increased public safety revenue would have been a panacea—I was concerned that it’d mostly be spent on what modal Redding residents want above all else: retributive justice rather than helping people get their lives together. But no matter, because the tax hike measure cratered.

    If you had asked me 20 years ago if I hoped a mega-church would take over Redding to give the place some chance of emerging from its entrenched reactionary, cynical, defeatist, angry, pessimistic, holier-than-thou, parasitic, victim-mentality funk, I’d have said you were crazier than a fish with titties.

    But here we are.

    • I too find the various local conspiracy theories regarding the McConnell Foundation perplexing. I looked into them the first several times and the main beef seemed to be … they were doing something.

      • Avatar Anita L Brady says:

        Mr McConnell frequented a local grocery store and bought dented cans demanding a price cut. Compare that with costly Italian marble as flooring in their beautiful community building and nearly $24M for a bridge, and the McConnells would be gyrating in their graves.

    • Avatar cheyenne says:

      I worked with the McConnell Foundation when we put up the playground years ago in Anderson River Park. McConnell bought the equipment and volunteers from the softball league and Anderson FFA aided the city in installing the equipment. At the time I was told that McConnell donated money but wanted the recipients to have a little skin in the game. I think what happened was that people started holding their hands out and did not want to put skin in the game so to speak so McConnell started their own projects which left a bunch of lazy haters.

  13. Avatar Hal Johnson says:

    Here’s what I gotta say.

  14. Avatar Chrissy says:

    Is it really mean to wonder why we are saving these people? I mean, heroin is so hard to quit (almost impossible) that if I were going down that rabbit hole, and I got so addicted I was ODing, I’m not sure I’d want to be saved. The only way out of heroin addiction is treatment or death. Or for those of us who are lucky and know better, never start at all.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      My husband spent most of his career as a hospital pharmacist. Pharmacists are called to the ER when there is a code (stopped heart) so that they can relieve the docs and nurses from having to put the proper medications into the IV’s thereby allowing them to do their specialties. In one ER, there was a repeat patient who had been brought back from a stopped heart on several occasions. After the nth time, the ER nurse said to him, “This is the last time I’m going to waste time on you since you don’t care about yourself.” I don’t know if he took the nurse’s advice and stopped using or if he ended up in the morgue. So, Chrissy, your question isn’t really that far fetched.

      • Avatar Chrissy says:

        Beverly, thanks for your response. I expected a lot of hate but your response made me feel better. 🙂

    • I read that RPD’s neighborhood police unit recovered 10 pounds of heroin last year. That’s seems like a lot of heroin if it’s just homeless people doing it.

      • Avatar Chrissy says:

        I think that rather than just homeless people are doing heroin, heroin causes people to become homeless. So while there are probably some users maintaining some sense of a real life, most are probably months or weeks from becoming homeless.

  15. Avatar Mrs. Foster says:

    My husband, children and myself moved to Redding this last year because we had heard such wonderful things about it and yes of course… cheaper rent. We are moving back out of the town in the next few months and it has nothing to do with the homeless. I do not want my children growing up in this city. There is no sense of community. Just the biggest group of meanest, most judgmental, bullying adults I have ever seen. We want no part of Redding and it’s citizen’s. My 13 year old acts more mature than some of the people in this town. There is no compassion from anyone. They would rather see a grown man shot to death over a $5.00 material item if it came off of their property. They think 100% the homeless are drug addict criminals and deserve to be put to death. Pretty much anyone that doesn’t fit their narrative should be put to death. The citizens out here speak more violently than any of the criminals… anyone notice that? We are headed back to our home town where neighbors are nice to each other. I’m very anti drugs and was against recreational weed but maybe Redding citizens do need to relax and smoke some weed. My Lord. Meanest bunch of bullys I have ever witnessed in my life. Shame on you Redding. I’ll always tell everyone what a terrible place this is.

    • I rank my own personal encounter with Redding as OK, but of course I live 30 miles outside of town. When I meet normal people, they’re mostly nice. But the furor surrounding this one issue, which has been going on since I moved here four years ago, is to me cause for concern. People, including me, have gotten this fool idea in their head they can say any mean thing they want.

    • I feel sad that you’re leaving. I guess I’ve been here so long it’s like boiling a frog; I don’t have any comparison.

      But I’m glad you found your way to Best of luck with your move, and feel free to stop by here any time.

  16. Mistress of the Mix Mistress of the Mix says:

    You touched on the exact theme that has been bouncing around in my head for a good long while: the same people who are demanding more accountability for crimes are the ones who are unwilling to support tax increases to pay for the infrastructure that will allow for it. Thanks for this article R.V.

    • Avatar Bob says:

      Yea that’s the solution more taxes. Punish the law abiding citizens. How about getting rid of the bloated city bureaucracy and overprice paper pushers.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        …entrenched reactionary, cynical, defeatist, angry, pessimistic, holier-than-thou, parasitic, victim-mentality funk…

        (I read somewhere.)

      • Bob, I think we could overhaul all the tax codes to your liking and take care of this problem, if we made it a priority. It would be worth it for everybody’s peace of mind.

    • Avatar Ned Estill says:

      Bingo! Also, back when we were sending folks to prison at a greater rate than any other county, I think it’s safe to say that the costs borne by CDCR to take care of our n’er-do-wells were far in excess of what we paid into the system via taxes and fees. But we’re a bunch of self-reliant bootstrap grabbers here in Shasta county, gosh darn it!

  17. Avatar Bob says:

    We are so mean yet every transient. crackhead and thief wants to come here or is already here. Yea we are SO mean. Forget Uber or Lyft, it’s 99% legal to steal a car in Shasta County. Zero consequences. Yea we are SO mean

    • It’s perfectly fine to rant and rave about transients, if say one of them just pooped on your porch. But then we should ask ourselves: We put a man on the moon, but we can’t solve the lack of public restrooms problem?

      • Avatar K. Beck says:

        Homelessness and drug abuse are prevalent in every state in this country. That is a FACT. It is not just Shasta County. One would have to look at areas that are actually attempting to do something concert to fix the problems (and I am not talking about throwing everyone in jail, giving them a ticket out of town, building a chain link fence enclosure and herding them into it, or forming a firing squad) in order for figure out what to do universally.

        THANK YOU RV! Why can’t there be port-a-potties put out? OK, someone would have to clean them up (they are plastic, could just take a hose and some disinfectant, and empty them, but consider it a community benefit. Every living thing on this planet has to eliminate the food waste from their body. There is no getting around that.

        Of course, the “Bobs” of the world would complain that they don’t want their tax money spent on such things. It would just attract more homeless people. It is a hideous vicious, never ending circle.

        I, for one, am tired of listening to the incessant finger pointing, moaning, and complaining.

  18. Avatar Cameron Miller says:

    Hi there everyone! I’ve been reading A News Cafe for awhile, and first off I want to compliment RV on his writing. I’ve really enjoyed your articles RV, especially your local stories. As I recently moved here, they’ve been helpful in getting the lay of the land.

    I am surprised to see such negative comments directed at Shasta county here however. They are reminiscent of other online voice which said that Redding was a horrible place to live. I couldn’t disagree more, and I am nothing put grateful I moved here!

    Having moved North from a Central Coast county where I grew up, I sometimes chuckle when folks speak of the prosperity of areas built on tech economies. Having lived near one of those, all living near tech giants meant for middle income younger people in my circle meant was obscenely high cost of living, traffic, and jobs limited to the service industry unless you were a programmer.

    I got an entry level job in the Forestry field when I moved to Shasta County, and with it found the field I want to build a career in. Myself and my wife got married by the county clerks, and the whole process was wonderful. We have an affordable apartment, good jobs, endless outdoor activities to pursue, and the friendliest neighbors we’ve ever known.

    Yes, Redding has it’s problems, and homelessness is an issue for every town in California. But lets not miss the forest for the trees, and fail to appreciate how wonderful Shasta county is.

  19. Avatar Anonymous Heckler says:

    Just for the record, it might have been true when he or she said, but that defense attorney would not be correct today about California’s relative incarceration rate. And Shasta County’s high but not No. 1.

  20. Avatar michael kielich says:

    Thank RV! If one reads many of the blogs focused on this area, one would be led to believe that we live in an incredibly mean and messed up place. If anyone digs into their family history enough, they will find messed up situations of dysfunction that have always plagued humanity. My experiences in Redding and the surrounding towns have been much more positive than one would think if they spent too much time reading all the vitriol. I have met some of the nicest and most gracious people in this area, like Hal Johnson. They are easy to find. A couple of my friends were in Marin County traveling from Arkansas. The hotels were too expensive, they were tired, so they camped on the side of the road. They each received a $375 fine from the county. Now that’s mean. You won’t find any homeless in Tiburon (maybe a token one) because those “nice” people don’t want them around. Beauty is everywhere you look in this county, if you choose to look for it. Often blogs seem to have a tendency to be a collective place to complain and commiserate. Thanks Doni for creating a platform whose underlying platform allows varying opinions/frustrations, but at its heart is a place of compassion.

  21. Dear RV while I agree with the very essence and heart of your point I must disagree with you in regard to the issue of raising taxes in order to fund rehabilitation programs. The Government has a proven track record of over administrating and complicating the simplest of tasks. Their efforts do more to create failed programs in need of further taxation in order to shore up their failings. The private sector simply desires to ignore the issue as there is no profit from it, as long as it does not impact their current or future revenue. The only hope for cleaning up this mess lies within the civic sector, those who are willing to roll up their sleeves, get dirty, and make things happen. The answer lies within the City leadership loosening their grip on the laws and permits required to open one or more of the many boarded up hotels in the area. The retired business owners, service workers, tradesmen to step up and donate their time to train others in what they have spent a lifetime earning. We must produce goods and services, and bring a sense of , value, dignity and ownership to the downtrodden and hurting through the provision of these quality goods and services. We must provide an outlet for those with creative energy and ideas, outlets that provide a sense of achievement and success, self expression and joy. What have the downtrodden to look forward to, a menial position at minimum wage with no future hopes or dreams to sustain them? I know for many this all seems impossible, yet the solution truly is within the grasp of reasonable men, willing to give of themselves, willing to make sacrifices.

    • I agree with some of what you’re saying, but I find it kind of hard to believe the city is going to rehabilitate the hotels it just closed down and rescind the various anti-transient laws it has passed.

      • Oh no I completely agree with you the city and the government cannot rehab hotels or create effective programs, they will simply mess it up. My hope would be that they would trust and partner with civic organizations and prat church ministries who can be effective. But hey nothings perfect right?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Gene, your “solution” is basically the status quo. How’s that working? Are you expecting a rush of volunteerism following from your advice? If so, you’re basing that on what, exactly?

      Your “solution” is to re-integrate the downtrodden and hurting back into the economy. As with most simple solutions to multi-faceted problems, this is largely a non-starter.

      A sizable cohort of homeless people have mental and physical health issues that will forever prevent them from being productive contributors to the economy, and in turn, earners. Members of another large cohort actually embrace substance abuse, stealing, and living rough as a lifestyle—preferring it to the drudgery and constraints of sobriety, unfulfilling work, and crappy apartment living. (There are days when my empathy bucket regarding this perspective is nearly full.)

      Redding has a multi-faceted plan for public safety that actually addresses ALL of the above, not just those who desire to re-integrate and are capable of doing so. That plan lacks funding far more than it lacks volunteers. For starters, there is a need for real consequences if you smash someone’s car window and steal all of their shit so that you can buy your next 8 ball. There also needs to be affordable housing—including transitional housing—like a tiny homes village. (Not a fleabag weekly hotel that just becomes dirtbag central—that doesn’t work.) Once adequate housing is largely available, there needs to be absolute zero tolerance for camping in our greenbelts. There needs to be better mental health screening and treatment.

      It costs nothing to float one-size-fits-all, silver-bullet fantasy solutions.

      It takes money to do what’s effective.

  22. Superb article R.V. I regret the day I looked at the “comments” section when the Record Searchlight went on line. The worst part of this dose of “poison” was that people could freely use other people’s names when they made their comments. That’s another story. I realized that I don’t want to know what most people think. And they don’t want to know what I think. Except on a site like
    Thank you for a great article. I have some ideas on the real problems of this area.
    I don’t hang out with mean people, but some of my recent encounters with local government agencies convinces me that they are just doing their job and their job requires mean-spirited, short sighted decisions about citizens in this county.

  23. Avatar Greg Lamb says:

    There is a simple solution to the homeless issue in our county…..we turn our condemned hotels after renovations of course into a homeless temp living, get staffing agencies to help these folks find work and set up drug rehabs right there.
    As far as the poor attitude people have in the area I strongly feel that we have NOTHING but a bridge and two hospitals to take pride in. Redding Needs economic growth and it needs it decades ago.

  24. Avatar Misty says:

    @Greg I and my husband have been saying that for year’s if we had the money to do that we would open a place like that, where the folks living there would have chores as well as rehab and job training etc. That is what will help most of the homeless who want help..

  25. Avatar Li da says:

    I truly believe that if Shasta county would give the homeless a place to clean up ( bathe and such) , clean clothes and a address it would give the homeless a chance to get a job and try to clean their lives up. My son is in Shasta county, homeless and on drugs . He never had that problem until California. He can’t get a job because of no physical address and also because he has a bad back and neck. All his spine is messed up in his back and neck. He had a job and they knew he was on prescriprion medication for pain. They saw him take it and fired him. Shasta County is a Beautiful place, but so depressing. Everywhere you look is homeless. I feel sorry for them because alot of them are like my son and can’t get a job and living on the streets or camping out. Then when the police come around they take all your stuff and food and tear your only place to live in down. The rivers and creeks are the only plaxe.they have to camp sagely and the police keep kicking them out and taking their stuff.

    • One of the blessings of my life is that when I severely injured my back as a young man, I went to a very good chiropractor instead of opting for surgery, and therefore avoided ever being on prescription opioids. We do have methadone treatment in Redding now, and if your son can get in that program, maybe he can get off the streets. I hope he is staying dry i this weather.

  26. Avatar Monique says:

    I love your verbage…..and the easy way you seem to talk to me, in your writing…..I can’t wait to read more

  27. Avatar Richard Christoph says:


    Just saw your comment on R-S. Well done.

  28. Avatar Common Sense says:

    WE have a common theme here…..” Not in my Backyard”……..sound familiar?….Homeless people….not in my Community……Prop 64 passed….not in my County…..Drug problems….not in my City….Closed-mindedness takes a toll.

    One thing is clear…..It takes more Money to help Solve all these problems! It doesn’t matter what side of the argument you line up on, more tax money will be the solution to heading the right way. Whether it be for Drug Rehab Programs….Build a new Jail, adding to the Jail, Housing etc….Money is the key followed by intelligent uses of that new money.

    So we have a County that has Said NO to New Tax Money…..No to State Grants by saying NO to prop 64…..any guess if any of the problems mentioned above and in the article will get better or worse with NO money?

    I believe it was a dark skinned Palestinian man that wondered around many many years ago saying things like “Love thy Neighbor” that need to be revisited? Love your Enemies,do good to those that hate you…..But Jesus….what if they are Muslim?? Ok again from the top….let me know where I lost you….Love your…..

    I have seen a LOT of change in the 30+ years since I moved here. The one thing I have seen little of is an opening of Minds……a new way of thinking outside the box……as they say….we are just One Generation away from positive change!

    • I do agree with you that the NIMBY theme is pretty rampant here. Just about any proposal is met with public backlash or, in the case of marijuana, sheer indifference. It’s frustrating that one side always gets its way.

  29. Avatar Russell K. Hunt says:

    We are spending $350,000 a year to chase the homeless from camp to camp. They are aren’t going away especially since 48% of them get SSI (about $1,100 a month). We need to organize one large camp on Metz Rd. , north of Haven Humane. Turn it over to a non-profit, put in trash bins, running water, fire camp potties and sheds. Hire security. How to pay for this ? The city can afford the basic services and potties. Much cheaper than the current charade. The SSI people can pay rent on their sheds and have electricity. The others are stuck with tents. This gets them out of the parks and the downtown. Non-profits can deliver their food surpluses to the site. Complaining is meaningless unless you have a solution.

    • It would definitely help to have a secular nonprofit organization supporting the Mission’s efforts with housing the homeless.

      • Avatar K. Beck says:

        I agree RV. I think the Mission has the most hands on approach, and they know the cast of characters. That would be a great starting place.

        The homeless are everywhere, not just in Redding. I think I have posted links at ANC before regarding cities with real plans to help/house the homeless. Here is another, recent, one:

        Redding has all the “abandoned” motels, how about rehabbing them, as someone else here, suggested, and bringing in drug treatment folks and employment help, to occupy two of the rooms so they are on-site?

        Hmmmm…sheds and tents. When is a solution, NOT a solution?!

        • It’s true the homeless are everywhere in California and have been at least since I’ve lived here, 1978. I’ve lived all over the north state, and the current public attitude about Shasta County’s homeless is the worst I’ve ever seen, therefore, meanest county. People who are relatively successful, meaning, they’re not homeless, should have a sense of magnanimity toward those who aren’t making it. This is basic Christianity 101.

  30. Avatar cheyenne says:

    In Colorado they are using $26 million from MJ taxes in six counties to help the mentally ill homeless. They will do more as the test counties continue. The Denver Cannabis predicts when, not if, the feds legalize MJ it will bring in, nationally, $125 billion in taxes and create 1 million jobs. Why do I say when and not if? Because Sessions has created such a firestorm over his attack on MJ that every single public official is fighting him. Even the liberal columnists are predicting the Sessions backlash to force the feds to legalize MJ.
    President Obama wrote a memo that the feds would use a hands off policy with MJ. A memo is nothing, just like past practice and anyone who has been in a union knows what past practice is, memos and PP are only good with the one who wrote it. A change in leadership can, and often does, result in changes to PP. What MJ needs is a clear cut announcement on MJ from the feds. Without it it leads to a grey area in enforcement. Despite the reefer madness the MJ advocates spout off about it is the grey area that is preventing MJ going mainstream.
    Wyoming and Utah have legalized Cannabis Oil for treatment. Neither state is set up to deliver it but as the state legislators stated. they wanted families to bring back the oil from Colorado without fear of violating state laws though they did caution it was illegal in the feds eyes. 70% of Wyomingites want MMJ.
    In Arizona, the reddest state of all, Senator Arpaio give me a break, has opened drive up MMJ windows in dispensaries. And Republican Martha McSally, a retired Air Force Colonel who was the first woman to fly a combat mission, will be elected to the upcoming open Senate seat. Arizona likes their military politicians.
    Shasta County is not the meanest county, it is the most pessimistic county. For proof already the pessimistic trolls on here are looking for bad things to post about what I said. Be optimistic, better times are coming. Post good things, if you have nothing good to say about Shasta County don’t say bad things about other areas.

  31. Avatar Dawn Marie Jens says:

    it is “DREAD ING” and interesting statistics ty

  32. Avatar Leslie says:

    I moved here two years ago and have been trying so hard to make a paradigm shift, however the virus of hate and devaluing people because they have a mental illness or addiction grinds me down so much. I recently earned my LCSW and I am heartbroken that I can not do my job here. It is so hard to help when the police, ER in the local hospitals and the general public treat people with such judgement and hatred. I know that change will happen here in Shasta County and eventually it will have trauma informed services, however it is very difficult to hang in there a be a part of the movement of wellness. It is true that people from the outside are baffled by the statistic in Shasta County on suicide rates, the number of foster children and the wait times for law enforcement to respond to mental health emergencies, but if you were born and raised around Shasta County you can not see that things can be so much better and that all human life is worth helping and saving. Unconditional love and kindness can heal this place.

  33. Avatar dawnie says:

    Redding is an ideal place to raise a Family – Our Son was one when we moved to Redding and twelve when we moved -a view of Mt Shasta in our backyard-living on top of Hilltop Drive-everyday was a new adventure pulling him in his red wagon down to Sundial Bridge-Turtle Bay-Caldwell Park and the River were idyllic then-each age and stage I found a plethora resources-Redding Recreation offers array of programs-he was in plays-he played Little League-(the Great Equalizer)-Basketball-a Soccer Camp-we swam at the indoor pool (YMCA)-the Aquatic Center-he went to WES-Whiskeytown Environmental School-a week long camp he LOVED-and we frequented the Lake-they offered kayaking-the amount of recreation available in this area if one picks up a “Shasta Parent” goes online is phenomenon-we also had a kid friendly small backyard-parties at Kid’s Kingdom- He had an amazing childhood there-meanies-we encountered our share like anywhere-we bonded with others with children as that dynamic brings-the funniest thing my son liked most about Redding was he would ask me “are they natural disasters here” “well not really-the damn could break-we live on a hill-the volcano could erupt-fire and we would be warned”- It was kinda odd how reassuring that was to him – we loved Redding as a place to raise him and I am living out much more that it offered – it is a unique beautiful place and mean people are everywhere.

    • I don’t disagree that Redding’s problems are the same as you’ll find any small city. It’s the attitude of a certain subset of people toward those problems that’s mean.

  34. Avatar dawnie says:

    for the record we tried to “give back” to Redding in different ways – taught a class at recreation dept – were involved at our Church – we drove around with bags filled from the dollar store mostly with items to give to homeless – we paid for the person’s food behind us leaving “random act of kindness” cards – it may have gotten much worse in Redding since 2012 as far as homeless camps etc -Caldwell-drugs – It is good to know your neighbor and enlist the reverse 911 system-I remember a “band of meth infused roving thieves” theorizing neighborhood-everyone “lit” up the area-for some reason it seemed folks were adverse to leaving “night lights” on in back of front yard – Redding may have problems , however; knowing the longtime residents there-they will stop the bleeding before it becomes putting a band aid on a gaping wound – they may have attitude – but it is less talk more action there

    • Avatar dawnie says:

      is there a procedure to remove a comment that one has posted – sorry I am not tech savvy and not able to grasp how to edit – delete a post – if anyone knows how to delete and would help – I appreciate it –