Letters to the Editor

Letters: Homeless + CalPERS + Gerrymandering + Proposition 13

Proposition 13

Re “California colleges are turning away students. It’s time to rethink funding for UC and CSU” (California Forum, Oct. 1): Russell Gould and Elizabeth Hill were correct in pointing out detrimental effects of boom or bust budget cycles on the University of California and California State University systems. However, part of the problem is that corporations are reaping benefits of Proposition 13 at the expense of our schools. If they paid their fair share, billions of dollars could be generated, so the state could recommit itself to higher education. Properly taxing commercial property would provide a stable source of revenue and end the boom or bust budget cycles. If we want to get serious about funding higher education, we need to get serious about Proposition 13 reform.

Nicholas Moore, Berkeley

CalPERS

Re “Sacramento has done plenty for CalPERS. So when will CalPERS start being a good neighbor to us?” (Editorials, Oct. 3): Your editorial demanding that CalPERS immediately build new housing or add to the city’s skyline and stop taking Sacramento for granted is grossly unfair. This is our hometown. We’re a destination employer with a proud workforce of nearly 3,000 contributing every day to Sacramento’s success. The projects we fund pay prevailing wages, and the benefits we pay annually to retirees generate nearly $2 billion in economic activity for local communities. As a good neighbor, we strive to make a difference. We’re leaders in energy efficiency, with solar power supplying 50 percent of our electricity needs. Every year we donate our buildings’ organic food waste so it can be turned into alternative fuel used to power city of Sacramento vehicles. We’ve formed a strong partnership with Mayor Darrell Steinberg, and are working to find additional opportunities to fulfill our mutual commitments. We focus on achieving solid returns to keep pension costs down. Carefully planned real estate developments help us accomplish that goal. Our pledge to add housing and a signature office building to the city’s landscape showcases our unshakable belief in Sacramento, but our fiduciary duty to our members and the fund comes first.

Brad Pacheco, CalPERS’ deputy executive officer for communications & stakeholder relations, Sacramento

Money in politics

Re “The system is rigged, and the Supreme Court could fix it. Will justices do the right thing?” (California Forum, Oct. 1): No matter how districts are drawn, it’s ludicrous to suppose that any person will become a fair and honest advocate for every person in a district. Elections are effectively being bought by big-money interests independent of geography, resulting in government that is more beholden to its financial backers than to the electorate. Truly representative government will never reach America until we junk the system in favor of one in which a sufficiently large group of voters, affiliated on whatever basis they choose, can select and seat a representative for their interests. Sadly, the people with the authority to change the system are the ones with the most to lose by changing it.

Earl P. Jones, Stockton

Homelessness

Re “In fight against homelessness, Sacramento has no time for NIMBYs. That includes you, Land Park” (Editorials, Oct. 1): As progressive Christians working with Sacramento ACT, we stand for compassion and justice in addressing the humanitarian crisis of homelessness. It’s not unreasonable for residents to question the impact of shelter proposals and ask the city to assure that shelters are good neighbors. But we must challenge the words of one person who told The Bee, “It’s not like these people are going to become contributing, productive citizens.” To write off thousands of human beings as hopeless and worthless is heartbreaking. It shows ignorance of how people become homeless. Most homeless people can be contributing, productive citizens if we commit to solutions. Yes, homelessness can have negative impacts on a community, but its effects on individuals are even more profound. The Bee’s editorial is a welcome call for community collaboration. But empathy and humanity are also essential to finding solutions.

Karen Humphrey, Sacramento

Haven for Hope

The large homeless transformation campus in San Antonio, Texas, should be a model for Sacramento. It would have a large capacity and provide resources. It would work best if isolated from residential and business neighborhoods. San Antonio’s has a drop-in secure sleeping component for people who want to sleep safely, and a campus with full services for people wanting to transition out of homelessness. A strategy needs to be applied to the American River Parkway and we suggest it be based on the Haven for Hope program, especially the courtyard strategy they use for safe rapid shelter for large numbers

David H. Lukenbill, American River Parkway Preservation Society, Sacramento

Sleep Train

I worked as a Park Ranger along the American River Parkway and other places. Part of my job was to clean up camps and it was a mess, as it is now. This began in 1967 when Ronald Reagan became governor and closed most state psychiatric hospitals. Add Jerry Brown and patients’ rights advocates who deemed it a violation of a patients’ rights to hold them in locked facilities and force them to take needed medications. They went home to their families who could not handle their needs. Add addiction and alcohol and a general assistance check too small to pay rent, demolition and replacement of single resident occupancy hotels and there’s no place for them. Short-term shelters are not the solution. Why not remodel Sleep Train Arena into a multipurpose living complex with a clinic?

Carol McElheney, Elk Grove

Demand services

I attended the meeting organized by the Del Paso Partnership and left early in disgust. Homeless people are here and are not going away. I live near Discovery Park and am reluctant to go to the river due to the health hazards from homeless camps. It is better to have a place for the homeless to go rather than to continue the status quo of homeless individuals relieving themselves in public places, scrounging through garbage cans, and camping along the river and in residential areas. They are human beings; many of the homeless in my neighborhood grew up in this neighborhood. Open up a triage center but demand that services go to people currently in the area. Demand security. Demand that the area be kept clean. Demand mental health services. Let’s find a way to make this work rather than hoping that the problem goes away.

Annette Emery, Sacramento

An elephant

We’ve let this problem of homelessness become the elephant in the room, and can no longer ignore it. I live on the American River Parkway and see loose, aggressive dogs, intoxicated “parkway residents” and trash. This does not enhance the Sacramento jewel. Park rangers have done their best to clean that jewel up, with positive results. However, an occasional 70-bed solution for a small segment of the homeless only goes so far. Thinking small will not do. This issue needs be addressed akin to the way many European nations are forced to, when attempting to address the large influx of refugees within their borders. These homeless people are our domestic refugees. How about getting the National Guard involved, putting up tents in Mather or McClellan, or some other large parcel of usable non-public land, where all homeless could be housed with supervision, to ensure everyone’s safety? Some may need to be institutionalized. Some may continue to remain on the dole. When citizens lose homes to natural disasters, national governments respond. Why should homelessness with a different root cause be treated any different?

Leendert Noordzij, Sacramento

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