This past weekend, residents of Arcadia held signs in front of the city building to protest against the city council’s decision to build a homeless shelter in a residential area. (Courtesy of residents)
Recently, the city of Arcadia, an affluent neighborhood, has once again stirred up controversy in the community by proposing to build a Tiny Home Shelter within the city to house homeless people. This past weekend (May 15 and 16), people from the community protested in front of Arcadia’s city hall with signs opposing the city council’s proposal to build a homeless shelter in a residential area.
This past weekend, residents of the City of Arcadia held signs in front of the City Hall to protest against the City Council’s decision to locate the Traveller site in a residential area. (Courtesy of residents)
The City of Arcadia has previously stated that there are currently 106 homeless people in the city and that building a homeless shelter would better house and manage them, saying it is the best solution to the local homeless problem at this time. Councilmember April Verlato said, “The homeless problem is getting worse and worse, and now that it’s happening in the city of Arcadia, the city has to do something about it.”
However, community residents are concerned that the city’s move will invite more hobos to the city, and the ensuing series of violence, robberies, drugs, sexual assault, mental illness and other problems will have irreversible and pernicious consequences for the city. The public said that the hobo crisis that is now rife in other cities in Los Angeles County is a lesson learned from the past.
For example, Venice Beach, originally a famous attraction in Los Angeles, is now occupied by hundreds of homeless tents on the sidewalks and beaches. The successive shootings, explosions, and violent clashes at the homeless camp have sparked discontent among residents. Tens of thousands of residents in Los Angeles are caught up in the security problem and have signed a petition asking the city to remove the homeless from the beach.
On May 16, residents of Arcadia protested in front of Mayor David Davis’s residence against the construction of homeless housing in a residential area.
Citizens organize their own protest
In a flyer opposing the “Tiny Home” project, residents wrote that the large number of homeless people in downtown Los Angeles has led to a series of unreported rapes, stabbings, and heroin sales. In addition, the poor sanitation of the homeless has made the area a high risk area for deadly diseases such as tuberculosis, typhus, hepatitis, and sexually transmitted diseases.
For this reason, local residents organized their own protests and appealed, “Dear neighbors, the city council wants to build free housing projects for the homeless near our homes without our consent, so let’s happen to protect our homes and not let radical projects rush to ruin our wonderful city!”
In an online meeting held by the city council on the evening of May 6, the city mentioned that the main purpose of the program is to protect all people living in the city of Arcadia, while the city needs to address the homeless problem and cannot turn a blind eye to it. That night, more than 500 people left messages and called in to oppose the construction of a homeless shelter in the city of Arcadia.
Residents raised concerns about how the City of Arcadia would respond if the influx of homeless people created more social chaos in the city. How will the city ensure the safety of its residents if the law and order problem gets out of hand?
Michelle, a Chinese-American resident of Arcadia, wants the city council members to listen to the people. We hope there are other ways to help the homeless, but we strongly protest the building of homeless shelters in residential areas,” she said. This project will not solve the problem, it will only attract more Travellers and create more problems, which also brings fear and anxiety to the residents.”
Arcadia City Councilman Tom Beck responded, “The site (of the proposed homeless shelter) is on county property, not our city land. The homeless problem is getting worse every year, and not all of the homeless use drugs or don’t want to work. Some are in need of help because they lost their jobs during the epidemic. We want to help these people who need help.”
Resident Peter said, “It’s not that we don’t have compassion or are opposed to helping the homeless, it’s just that there are a whole host of consequences that come with placing homeless people in residential areas that the city simply hasn’t thought through or done anything to address. Crime is currently on the rise in California wherever there are homeless people, and it’s already causing problems in the lives of local residents.”
He added that the Los Angeles County government has greater and broader resources than the city of Arcadia, but the county government invests a lot of money every year, and the homeless problem is increasing instead of decreasing, and has even become a “crisis”. How can a small city government ensure that these problems are handled properly?
“The city of Arcadia has more than 61,000 residents and 106 homeless people. The city has to think clearly, do they really want to give up the safety and good living environment of tens of thousands of people to build a homeless center?”
Citizens call for 18 calls to City Council to oppose city building of homeless shelter
The proposed homeless shelter plan being promoted by the city of Arcadia is initially expected to build at least 15 shelters with beds, restrooms, showers, water, electricity and other shared living facilities for homeless people.
The chosen site is located at the southernmost point of the city, just east of Peck Road Conservation Park. The area is just across the creek from Arcadia Par3 Golf, the city’s par 3 golf course. Geographically, it is adjacent to the business district to the south of the city, the city of North El Monte and its business district.
Michelle and another woman, Ms. Liu, visited the city and the park near the proposed homeless shelter, and found that the park is usually used by the elderly and children.
Ms. Liu said, “Across the creek is someone’s backyard, next to the park is a residential area, and it’s about a 10-minute walk to the seniors’ apartments, which is tantamount to putting the Travellers in the front and back yards of the residents’ homes.”
Thelma, a Hispanic resident who has lived in Arcadia for more than 10 years, said, “Taking a step back, the city is now building only 15 small houses to house 30 homeless people, how will the rest of those homeless people be handled? So the city’s purpose is not really to help the Travellers, it’s about money. Because by building this project, the county government will give money.”
“The fact that they (the city) are building a hobo center there will bring in more hobos. We’re already seeing more and more hobos near the Par 3 golf course, where there’s been a center for hobos since last November that provides free food, free laundry service, and free showers for hobos at regular times each week. Travellers come here on the tube.”
She said, “I’ve seen it myself and it’s ridiculous that Travellers are having their clothes washed with the help of children. The point is, right in a residential area, it’s not just the neighborhood, if more hobos come in, it’s going to affect every one of our lives.”
The demands made by the residents of the City of Arcadia are, “Strongly urge (the City) to withdraw the Tiny Home project, which has been disastrous for our community, by withdrawing the project application outright and avoiding the referendum process. First of all, the City Councilmember took the initiative to apply for this project without any community consultation at the time, so why did it have to go through a referendum instead when it was withdrawn? Secondly, there is clear evidence that 99.5% of local residents are opposed to the project and going to referendum would only be a waste of time and taxpayer money.”
Organizers of the protest against the project are calling on city residents to be able to call in their opposition during the May 18 city council meeting.
In addition to Arcadia, some residents have learned that the adjacent Chinese community of El Monte is also preparing to build a proposed homeless shelter.