There’s nothing like a three-day weekend to clear out the old cobwebs. And it couldn’t have come at a better time. In the last month or so I’ve logged an average of 12 hours of hard labor per week. Some of that may have been spent napping, but I don’t believe in quibbling over details. At least not until you have a solid grasp on the bigger facts, and let’s face it, neither myself nor anyone else in this Central Coast “paradise” seems to have a very direct connection to reality.
We smugly bicycle to Farmers Market where we smugly buy locally grown produce for our smug dinner of ratatouille. Which we eat in our $600,000 historic homes. Our biggest source of stress is remodeling the master bedroom—Angel’s Kiss White with an Arizona Tan Beige trim or vice versa?—and choosing among seven downtown SLO cafes for our morning soy no-whip mocha.
So it was a bit of a shock for me to discover that there are homeless people living in SLO County. Previously, when I saw people sitting on benches or wandering the streets I just thought they were making bad fashion decisions inspired by Mary Kate and Ashley Olson. How could the happiest place on Earth—where wine and pretension flow like manna from the gods—possibly harbor so many disenfranchised people?
Then, over a cup of white ginger tea paired with a rose-walnut scone slathered in lavender butter made by monks in the Pyrenees, I read that Judge Charles Crandall had ordered Dan De Vaul to evict 13 people from his property. The order was delivered with a self-satisfied lecture attacking De Vaul’s point that “any housing is better than no housing.” After his sassy turn at laying down the law, Crandall retired to his $764,522 property in Avila Beach where he presumably ate organic produce and reflected on the wisdom of his decision.
A number of other people, freedom fighters who worked tirelessly for years to liberate the otherwise homeless residents of Sunny Acres, can also sleep more soundly at night. Art Trinidade, a county codes inspector, can sleep in his four-bedroom, 2 1/2-bath home in Paso Robles, valued at a piddly $289,832. And Christine Mulholland, who flung rhetoric and metaphorical Molotov cocktails at De Vaul during her stint as SLO city councilwoman, dreamt sweet, sweet dreams in her 1987 $364,244 San Luis Obispo home. Occasionally, when her thoughts turn to those poor, poor wretches living at Sunny Acres, she twitches and kicks like a puppy trying to outrun injustice.
Nina Negranti, the attorney who represented the county’s witch hunt against the dangers of shacks, probably has the sweetest deal of all. A $1.55 million home in Cayucos and a $567,075 pad in San Luis Obispo. I’m guessing that’s where everybody meets up for sleepovers.
I didn’t have time to spy on Board of Supervisors Frank Mecham, James Patterson, Bruce Gibson, and Adam Hill, but they’ve got at least five homes and three additional parcels of land between them, so I’m guessing they sleep pretty soundly. No creek beds for them.
I’d harp on Supervisor Paul Teixeira, except he’s so meek and inoffensive even I’d feel bad picking on the guy.
Although, if pressed, I’ll bet they’d tell you that sleeping outdoors is actually beneficial to your health. How else do you explain the fact that tens of thousands of hardworking, well-to-do Americans elected to sleep outside during Labor Day weekend campouts? It’s for your own good, homeless people. Your elected representatives and their lapdog lawyers and judges love you better than they love themselves. That’s why you get to sleep in the creek while they juggle their multiple homes.
When Becky Jorgeson announced she would stage a peaceful protest on the courthouse steps, Hill went after her like a bulldog protecting a much-beloved bone. In response to the protest announcement, he sent out a reminder to the media about the people who would provide the other perspective on homeless services—what he would probably consider the correct perspective.
Which made me consider a wonderful solution to this dilemma: Hill could pledge one of his three bedrooms to one of the Sunny Acres residents he helped condemn to homelessness … again. You know, as a show of good faith that all his talk about empathy for the homeless isn’t just lip service.
I’d never argue that De Vaul has been entirely flexible, but then again, I’m not the one telling 13 people it’s better to camp in the creek than on a ranch because the water isn’t entirely up to snuff. Maybe they didn’t take into account that the creek is primarily comprised of recycled piss water this time of year.
But what really shocked me was the county’s attack on the rights of property owners. I mean, they’re all property owners themselves, so how could they be expected to sympathize with someone who doesn’t even have a shack anymore? And the county wants to be appointed a receiver of Sunny Acres, which is a fancy way of saying it wants to tear down a lot of the buildings.
I’ve never been much for “damn government, stop interfering in my rights” rhetoric, but the idea of the government getting pissed off at someone and depriving them of control over the property they paid for is absolutely ludicrous. What’s next? Is Mullholand going to storm my bedroom because she doesn’t like the décor?
Just to be safe, maybe I should consult the county over my Angel’s Kiss White/Arizona Tan Beige dilemma. I’d hate for them to appropriate my Dumpster. Mr. Hill—may I call you Mr. Hill? I hate to be presumptuous—you seem like a know-it-all. Would you care to weigh in on the debate? And maybe while you’re at it, you could scribble out a few suggestions to the former Sunny Acres residents for how to make a cardboard box more inviting. Please do, Mr. Hill, I’m just pining for your pearls of wisdom.
Shredder’s waiting for the county to approve a permit to paint a cardboard box Monarch’s Kiss Orange. Send brushes to firstname.lastname@example.org.