Thursday, February 15, 2007

by Carol Bodlander
Venice, California

“Face it, there is no appeal, this is your meeting and St. Joseph’s will be opening. They have the right. All you have to do is cooperate. We all have to work together,” Bill Rosendahl said before his Town Hall meeting in Penmar Park. Well, interesting that one week before opening its doors to a Homeless Service Center for little more than half of any hear, the community which will be involved and impacted is told it needs to cooperate. Where was the invitation to cooperate and be involved during the planning stages for this part time Center?

The Los Angeles Times article, “Plan for homeless center draws heavy opposition” Martha Grove, Feb. 8, 2007 indicates that Councilman Rosendahl said that the move of St. Joseph’s to Lincoln Blvd. and Flower Ave. was known for the preceding year of 2006. Maybe so, but by whom was it known? The first time I heard of the move was Oct. 27, 2006 when a community member notified me that Councilman Rosendahl was overheard in an ad oc meeting the night of October 26 telling Rhonda Meister, Director of St. Joseph’s that she should not hold a meeting for the community, that she should just move into the facility. When I called the Councilman’s office to confirm, I was told they knew “nothing of any such plan to relocate St. Joseph’s Homeless Service Center but they’d “look into it and get back to me”. That didn’t happen.

This incident illustrates how far we have deviated from our principles of democracy. Elected officials (we still have elections as a vestigial remain of our democracy) do not represent the whole of their constituency, they represent special interests which generally means the monied interests. The tax payer doesn’t have much voice; he is not truly represented and his constittutional rights to quality of life may not be equal to quality of liife protections in other communities. Such protections are at the discretion of the City officials; Building and Safety and Zoning departments apparently collude in the “master plan” rather than protect community members as they were intended to do.

Any community in the City of Los Angeles is in danger. The precedent has been set in Council District 11. Any use code or zoning restriction may be expanded and broadly interpreted to suit the special interests of the power party. My question is, who is supporting Bill Rosendahl and how in his blatant disregard for the health and saety of community members especially children. Since there is no accurate database by which to track histories of homeless clientele, those serviced by St. Joseph’s potentially could be child molestors and criminals. It takes a very callous group of politicians to disregard the emotional and physical wellbeing of children and the elderly, not to mention other community members and buisnesses.

People who might pose a danger to themselves or others should be cared for humanely, but the care and housing must be separate from the community at large for the safety of all. In the case of the Homeless Service Center, the clientele will be wanering the neighborhood about 43% of any year because that percentage reflects the number of hours they say they will be closed. That is a large amount of time that the homeless are being unattended, unserviced and at risk of injuring others. It makes the St. Joseph’s Homeless Service Center appear as a sham service only, a poor bandaid to cover a festering wound.

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