Opinion » Letters

We do need panhandler handling in SLO



Dear Shredder, The Shredmeister, His Shredness, El Shredderino, if you're not into brevity:

While I agree with your opinion of downtown security being the pedantic and litigious I'm-in-charge-till-mom-gets-home eldest sibling babysitters of the city (“Over a double barrel of ale,” July 15), I must also agree with their efforts to minimize the homeless/panhandling population here. I write to you not as a happy, rich resident of SLO, but as a disgruntled, bourgeois, twenty-something downtown employee.

I was born and raised in SLO, and I was taught to work for my money. I am downtown every day, working, and I get asked, every day, if I have any spare change. Spare change. I live in a shitty apartment, I pay almost my entire income to live there, and I can't even afford a car, which means I get to rely on our public transportation, which, during the summer, is an absolute joke, considering the buses stop two hours before most businesses close, which means I get to walk by a panhandler almost every block on my way home. So no, I don't have any "spare" change.

Another reason I would appreciate the situation being handled is because a vast majority of the homeless population is mentally unstable, and will sometimes be volatile to any passersby. I do not find it to be an unreasonable expectation to be able to walk alone somewhere and not get yelled at.

So, what I'm asking, if you would be so obliged, is that you please spare a thought for us working-class chums downtown. We make your coffee, we sell your ironic T-shirts and $5 sunglasses, we pour your beer. Our groceries are bought with tip money, and we hate the entitled trust fund kids and their yuppie parents just as much as the next guy. We just also don't want to deal with bums every day, asking for our money or coming in to our establishments to use our bathrooms to bathe in, especially considering that this town has a copious amount of homeless services, including showers and food.

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