Apr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022Liked by Leighton Woodhouse

i lived in Venice, CA, from 2013-2017 and can attest that everything said here about it is true, and maybe the truth is even worse. It really is like living in a zombie movie: at any time of day, on any street or area, some deranged Charles Manson lookalike might appear and start threatening you. (And, like a zombie movie, they even sometimes climb through your window.)

I don't know if you could call it a hack or a loophole or an Achilles' Heel, but California's admirably tolerant live-and-let-live ethos has been exploited and turned against its citizens.

I remember when 3rd Street in Venice was the main localized bum camp (excepting the Boardwalk), and it was just accepted as normal or almost an act of nature to turn over a whole city block to tents filled with drug addicts and the mentally ill.

Gradually tent by tent the whole area (much like the whole state) was colonized, and I think there are 2 main causes, both cultural: 1) there is just very little tradition or continuity here (unlike back East) and newcomers or vacationers or people who move in and out in a few years are more likely to keep their head down and not get involved, as they don't have much invested; and 2) anytime citizens did complain and a politician was forced to act, immediately an entire army of ACLU lawyers and other leftist organizers would file lawsuits and insist that any attempt to clean up the streets was a civil rights violation, that only some heartless monster would contradict a homeless person instead of centering their needs and giving them free food, free housing and free drugs. And I think these people have the tacit support of the population, because of the taboo most people here have against appearing judgmental or heartless, or even worse, conservative or Republican.

I don't know how you put this genie back in the bottle. Many neighborhoods are already unsafe, and many thousands of people live on the street, and to fix it we would need more than a Giuliani we might need a Mussolini. But any kind of real comprehensive crackdown would be deeply un-Californian, so I don't see it happening.

Expand full comment

I didn't even like Mad Max the movie. That this has become normal life in CA is--does "baffling" encompass all of it?

I live in a very small municipality in a largely rural state with harsh winters (spring ain't really sprung yet here) and a considerable drug and addiction problem, and one of our City Council members is a very progressive woman who also heads an organization providing tents and hygiene kits to the homeless living under bridges and on encampments on public land. She's got a degree from an elite college; I've got just a HS diploma, but somehow I think I can recognize idiocy pretty well when I see it.

Expand full comment

Please take the next step:

The homeless, addicted, and mentally ill are being used. It’s a hostage crisis.

Who is blocking the solutions, the expensive tough-love steps that most agree are necessary? Look at the organizations, non-profits and public employee unions using the homeless to push for more funding, government employee positions, etc to ‘manage’ the problem. All promising perfect solutions instead of real solutions.

Follow the money.

Expand full comment

Protecting its citizens is the major reason you have gov't. If gov't won't protect the people, they will start protecting themselves.

Expand full comment

As a longtime member of Narcotics Anonymous in North Hollywood, I have seen many addicts finally get off the streets and get clean because of the consequences of going to jail which they could only avoid by going to treatment. These people have no free will, they are owned by the drugs which have hijacked their normal brain function. The only way for them to get free of this prison of addiction is to go to a detox where they can safely go through the agony of withdrawal and then to stay in treatment of become members of NA where they will find encouragement, community and motivation, accountability, shared experience and the help they need. As long as they are left on the street, they will never escape the powerful hold of addiction which will only end in jails, institutions and death. Our politicians are clueless and negligent.

Expand full comment

This situation is truly dystopian and the longer it's allowed to continue, the more entrenched it becomes in our society. This can't continue to be the new normal!

Expand full comment

If government, with its armed police, refuses to fix this, people will resort to their own guns. Which commonly has been the case through much of our history, so don't think it can't happen

Expand full comment

LW: "Those who will suffer most from this dismal state of affairs are, of course, homeless addicts themselves."

I'm sorry that I just don't agree with this proclamation of `suffering'. This is projection by white liberals living sheltered & accustomed high-life. Some surely are suffering, but my money is on the more obvious fact that most of them accept this existence just fine: FREE of society's norm!

Expand full comment
May 2, 2022·edited May 3, 2022

If the comments here are reflective of the general public in CA, I'm worried we are veering closer and closer to a solution involving social cleaning of the homeless.

I'd like to say that I believe that Shellenberger's proposed Cal-Psych approach can help avert this disaster but I don't for several reasons:

a) Day #1 there will be a legal challenge. That will result in a case that needs to make its way to the California Supreme Court. Any decision by the Supreme Court will be appealed. Nobody knows the timeframe for that all to play out.

b) The Sheltering proposals will be fought tooth-and-nail. People simply want the homeless removed from their neighborhoods - there will be no apetite to accommodate them in shelters in their neighborhoods.

c) Mandatory re-hab has reasonable "short-term" success rates in getting the treated off of drugs. But, in general, longer-term success requires individualized-treatment - and that doesn't scale well. It remains difficult to deconvolve issues arising from addiction vs. those arising from prolonged homelessness. I've read some heart-breaking posts from folks whose own children are among the addicted homeless - but a large portion of the homeless addicts have no support network of family/friends who can provide assistance.

d) There is no *existing* useful state capacity to adminster Cal-Psych's treatment. Note: I'm not saying that the state isn't employing large numbers of persons dedicated on addressing the problem of homelessness or addiction; I am suggesting that they do not possess the skills (and probably not the inclination) to provide the sort of treatment that Shellenberger seems to think is required. And I don't think people could be easily recruited in large numbers to make up for the shortfall...it's not most people's idea of a good time.

e) Some of Shellenberger's proposals for Cal-Psych are just spit-balled nonsense - e.g. https://twitter.com/shellenbergermd/status/1427069498922704902 That PSA/"drug use is uncool" stuff didn't even work in the 1980s...though I'm sure the Ad Council would be delighted to take Gov. Shellenberger's phone call when he places it.

f) If a 3rd-party/non-party candidate were to win the CA governor's race - there is a motivation for both CADEM and CAGOP to try to engineer a recall.

I take no joy in concluding this - but I'm sketical that "Cal-Psych" will accomplish much other than enrich the NGOs to which the work will inevitably be subcontracted.

I would be relieved to be proven wrong. Were I a California voter, I would almost certainly vote for Shellenberger in the hope that I am.

Expand full comment
Comment deleted
Expand full comment
RemovedApr 29, 2022·edited Apr 29, 2022
Comment removed
Expand full comment