There was another hearing by the Board of Supervisors last week about Sunny Acres and a nuisance abatement. Since I was unable to stay for the entire six-hour meeting, I have questions for the officials:
• Is Mr. [Dan] DeVaul’s property zoned differently from other ranches in the county that have numerous vehicles?
• Which other ranchers have been given deadlines to remove inoperable vehicles from their property?
• Aren’t there dozens of ranchers around the county who have put up buildings on their agricultural land without obtaining proper permits?
• Which of those ranchers are now being forced to tear down useable buildings that are improperly permitted?
• Does our county have another clean-and-sober residential program that I’m unaware of? Is this Board of Supervisors aware that such programs save the state money?
• Have you ever invited a hungry stranger into your home to sit at the table with your family and share a meal?
• Have you ever offered a bed in your home to a stranger for a few months? How about a week? Overnight?
• How many nights have you gone to bed hungry? Or slept under a tree, or had rotten sores on your feet because you had no place to shower?
• Have you ever gone to Sunny Acres to see how you could help? Have you ever rolled up your sleeves to work along side people who are much less fortunate than you?
• Have you ever spent time with Mr. DeVaul at Sunny Acres to learn about the refuge he has been providing, or do you rely on the rumor mill?
• Who is it you’re trying to appease? The neighbors who bought the homes nearby? Did they wake up one morning and suddenly become aware of the view from their window?
• Could there be something else going on here other than nuisance abatement? I think we all know the answer to this one.
Those people who have been fortunate enough to live at Mr. DeVaul’s ranch are like you and me. They are fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, daughters of attorneys. They are professional singers. They are a couple engaged to be married one day when they get their lives back on track. They are writers, carpenters, legal assistants, people in the restaurant industry. They are victims of our government that slashes vital programs. They slip through the cracks because some us who are able to help, don’t.
These are people who have found it difficult to survive, who have had their homes go into foreclosure, or who have lost their jobs … or have had devastating things happen to them in this challenging world we live in— things that knocked them to their knees. They are now working hard to get back on their feet and they need YOUR help now.
I am asking you to adhere to your supervisors’ mission statement, that you are, “committed to the implementation of such policies and the provision of such services that will enhance the economic, environmental and social quality of life in San Luis Obispo County.” Enhance the quality of life for everyone, not just those people you prefer.
The 72 sunny acres on Los Osos Valley Road have been in the DeVaul family since the 1930’s. His belongings didn’t fall down from the sky overnight. The lot was in plain sight when folks decided to buy homes nearby. Homelessness is never pretty. If people don’t see it, they don’t have to think about it.
Each and every pile he has on his land is there for a reason—he wastes nothing. He recycles everything for money to help feed the people he cares for. Because we don’t help. I just spent a Sunday at Sunny Acres helping other volunteers continue to clean up because the inspectors were coming again the next day. My 81-year-old mother and son also worked all day hauling truckloads of materials to other on-site locations to be sorted and recycled. My eldest son sees that Mr. DeVaul needs so much help that he’s been going out there every day to work. The rest of us who can go should be so generous.
Years ago, Mr. [James] Patterson, you came to my home campaigning to be a supervisor. You said if you were elected you’d work hard for me and for the people of San Luis Obispo. Will you keep your word now? Mr. [Jerry] Lenthall, I have witnessed your dedication to the city and your hard work in the police department. I thought you would be a good person for this job. Please do your part now and stop this game.
Mr. [Bruce] Gibson, we all worried for you with your recent health issue. Please be aware there are others who suffer the same health problems but do not have access to hospitals, or a nice warm bed to go home to, or food. Please give of yourself now. (You were the one who brought up all the old issues, when the rest of the board was willing to move forward. Do what is right now.)
Mr. DeVaul is an honest decent person. He has no hidden agenda. He wants nothing for himself. We should all be so humble.
Do the right thing. Stop the games. Don’t make us ashamed to be citizens of San Luis Obispo. Don’t make us ashamed of our Board of Supervisors: Five educated and intelligent men who can energy decide, here and now, to take the stumbling blocks out of the way for one who does so much for others.
Becky Jorgeson is a San Luis Obispo citizen.