I have mixed feelings, having observed people begging on parking lot entries/exits who, in my opinion, were looking for enough to head to the smoke shop to restock. En cambio (on the other hand), I have observed sincere-looking youngsters with backpacks, families with pets, forlorn folks with the fear of less than adequate food to eat, oldsters with various forms of incapacitation, etc., etc., etc. All of whom tend to collect at the Albertsons parking lot in the vicinity of the smoke shop. Apparently, the access from the Salinas riverbed provides welcome diversion for an otherwise depressing existence. They all speak to my heart.
So here’s what can be done.
There’s a totally unoccupied facility in Paso Robles across from the airport. It is the Paso Robles Youth Authority Jail, which has been unoccupied for at least three years. I have not ever been inside, so I have no idea of the facilities, which I can imagine are jail-like. I travel past the facility daily. From the outside, there are numerous buildings, which obviously have facilities for incarceration. But there are positive structures, too, such as classrooms, project-creation spaces, even a track and field setup, which, in the past 10 years of observation, has yet to be used.
The state pays for three to four persons to watch the facility around the clock. So why not examine the possibility of providing a “Greybar Hotel” for the homeless and a positive rehabilitation and training facility to give them something? It is a true societal tragedy that this facility goes unused. Let’s examine alternate possibilities. Write your representatives or whatever it takes. Ask them what gives. Politics aside, we need to address the problem of human beings with no place to go. Let’s bring this facility into the 21st century with its humanic needs. It’s there; it doesn’t need to be built. It just needs momentum toward a better purpose. Let’s drive towards that! Beer later!