Recovery 101, Part Duh
Well, the De Vaul Ranch's "Sunny Acres" is back in the news. Property owner Dan De Vaul has been at loggerheads with the county over having un-permitted residents staying in a non-permitted structure while they are part of a privatelyoperating, self-supporting Drug and Alcohol Recovery Program on his ranch on Los Osos Valley Road & Madonna Rd.
In the latest Tribune story, it's noted that Mr. De Vaul "won't go through the $200,000 permit process the county is demanding. The final step is a public hearing, and he believes neighbors will persuade the Board of Supervisors to reject whatever project he presents."
Well, he's certainly right about that. The De Vaul Ranch, like so many ranches, had the misfortune to be trapped and surrounded by encroaching high-end homes. And people who live in million-dollar homes don't like looking out of their million-dollar windows to see rusting farm equipment and, for God's Sake, homeless people across the road or across a marsh from them!
It's all a matter of proper zoning, really. Expensive homes and upscale businesses go here. Slaughterhouses, recycling operations, sewage treatment plants and the mentally ill, sick, drug-addicted and/or homeless people go over there.
The problem, of course, comes when there is no "there" there because the County's broke, the State's broke, the Nation's broke, we have decided as a nation not to have national health coverage for sick, addicted people, and property values, not human values, determine how and where a community will grow. And homeless people, especially sick, addicted or mentally ill homeless people, have no value in our society so are always in the category of Also Rans -- a constant problem for local governments and police and neighbors to deal with piecemeal, as budgets and the political will allow.
When I first posted a blog entry on this dust-up between De Vaul and the County, I noted that another live-in detox program, Project Amend, was chugging along in SLO-Town, getting all their permits, making sure their buildings were up to code, & etc. And I noted that one of the first rules of Recovery when dealing with addicts is to Accept Responsibility, Deal With Reality, No Excuses, No Games, and further noted that Mr. De Vaul's snook-cocking game with the county -- which has been going on for years -- is the wrong example to set for people who must stop game playing, bite the bullet, play by the rules, fly right.
To which I got an email from a person involved with "Sunny Acres," asking me to consider "what Project Amend charges for their detox program and then check with Sunny Acres as to the cost of their program" and to understand that "a conditional Use Permit on AG land costs much, much more than a small 16 bed facility that is looking for a handout to help pay for it. Sunny Acres uses no taxpayer funds . . . it is self-supporting; the people are self-supporting."
All of which are certainly important points while missing my point. But the author, like Mr. De Vaul, continue to pose a question that still remains unanswered: So, what shall we do?
Taxpayers don't like homeless addicts, neighbors don't like homeless addicts, our real estate market has no place for homeless addicts, even self-sustaining ones. So we keep coming back to that questions: What do we do with the people at Sunny Acres who are trying to turn their lives around? Send them back to the creeks and railroad yards and highway underpasses? Let our tax-supported jails and prisons serve as a catch all for our lack of proper medical treatment? Tax ourselves to build decent medical de-tox facilities to treat the many medical issues often faced by the homeless? Ignore the whole thing and hope some churches will continue to offer teaspoons of heroic charity when cupfuls are needed to address the problem?
Back on square one.
Rabenaldt Rides Again
This morning, the Tribune reports that Pismo councilman Bill Rabenaldt will ask the City council to reverse his censure and apologize and return his city laptop computer and city credit card.
Mr. Rabenaldt made an interesting and serious point in the story, saying, 'We are all equals on this City Council, and by taking away my ability to communicate with the public or denying my right to go to additional meetings where I can learn new things to better serve the city is ridiculous."
Hmmm, is it time to take a look at the City's by-laws concerning councilpersons? As in, Censure is O.K. for Behaving Badly, but if it's anything more than a verbal/written hand-slap, if the censure involved limiting the ability of the councilmember to fully serve his constituents, then should the proper step be impeachment or recall by the voters? Short of being convicted of committing a crime, or being suspended pending an investigation into illegal activities, how can a Board limit the ability of one of their co-equals to function without disinfranchising the councilperson's constituents?
Well, maybe if the issue is put on the agenda, that will be part of the discussion. And people thought Los Osos' CSD's were lively.