Two months ago, a methamphetamine-addicted, maskless, homeless woman barged into a Main Street store. Along with violating coronavirus guidelines, the transient, who arrived on a bus from over the hill, violated rules of civility and probably a couple of state laws. She defied the business owner’s entreaties to wear a mask inside and his plea to leave the shop, verbally abused those around her, and acted in a physically aggressive manner before finally being forced out.

From this interaction, the store owner will at least reach these two conclusions: first, that the homeless woman needs help, and, secondly, that it is not his responsibility to provide it. The first conclusion he believes with all his heart. But he is just as resolved in defense of the second: He has no duty toward his abuser, not simply because she abused him, although that can’t be ignored, but because she is not a member of his community. Just as a hotelier is not obligated to lodge a non-paying guest, the store owner has no duty to accommodate the belligerent in his community.

For this reason alone, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors must scrap its plan to buy and convert the Coastside Inn into a homeless camp when it meets on Dec. 8. Because Coastsiders, such as the store owner, have no obligation toward the person in question, the county government can’t justify forcing us to house her.

County officials and some readers will object, of course, that the example I have given is not representative of all homeless people. This I readily concede, and I intend to make no mistake about it. Many of the county’s homeless are fine folks who just need a helping hand. Casting unfounded aspersions on them is not my intention.

But the example is nonetheless appropriate considering the county’s promises. “I want to be clear,” said San Mateo County Housing czar Ken Cole at last week’s City Council meeting, “that in the shelter system, up to this moment in time, we have not had a geographic component to selecting which shelter someone goes to.” Translation: The Coastside shelter will accept homeless from all over the county.

An implacably smug Supervisor Don Horsley, who bragged how “it wasn’t really possible for us to take months of time and involve the communities,” revealed the county will fund an additional police presence in Half Moon Bay to patrol the new shelter, a facility that county officials indicate will have drug treatment and mental illness programs.

While everyone has empathy for mental and drug problems, Coastsiders deserve an answer. Why is this plan to implement a homeless camp that merits an increased police presence being pushed through without our consent?

Maybe it’s because of a potential increase in crime or an uptick in drug addiction on the coast. But perhaps it’s due to the shelter’s close proximity to Hatch Elementary and Cunha Intermediate schools, or a massive impending loss of local hotel tax revenue, or imminent crashes in nearby property values. It could even be that the supervisors don’t want you to know they’re misusing federal coronavirus relief funds on a pet project.

As usual, Horsley is aggrieved. “Everything on the Coastside is controversial,” he moped at the council meeting. Quite a charge. Perhaps he’s right. He can look in the mirror if he wants to find out why.

Quinn Ebert is a resident of Half Moon Bay.

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(7) comments

jjm

Prop 36 was a bad idea. Drug addicts, combined with COVID, are roaming free. They can miss court multiple times and won't go to jail. Misdemeanors' escalate into felonies. Even if its a one month jail sentence., they should go out and pick up garbage along the beaches. and parking areas . Since COVID, I see garbage in plastic bags, plastic bottles, masks laying around. toxic smoked cigarettes. Can't understand why people can't be bothered to take their garbage with them when they leave. Someone left a case of empty water bottles with all of its plastic packaging, by the ocean. For addicts to accept or want rehab, they have to detox. Its illogical to expect these addicts to choose to detox on their own, or to be clear headed enough to find rehab centers. At least in jail, picking up garbage with the Sheriff, will be a 'forced' detox. and they will be contributing to society. Great job to the DA, and law makers for letting these people roam free with no consequences, even for missing court and implementing $0 bench warrants. The public have less rights and is at higher risk for safety than homeless and drug addicts. Is this logical??? why do they have more rights while we are at risk?? They can roam free even with multiple misdemeanors.

TheOtherGeorge

I understand that reasonable people can disagree on this issue but I personally view this as a terrible idea from a policy perspective: It turns a regional issue into a local issue. HMB is not big enough or healthy enough fiscally to take on this burden.

Scott McVicker

The Concept: For anyone who wishes to contribute, imagine that YOU have been evicted from your residence because you lost your job due to COVID. You have some (but limited) savings. Where do you go to live? Family? Friends? Maybe you have neither locally. Perhaps your car...assuming you have one...as the last "private" space available to you. Then what? All you own can be either carried on your back or heaped into a shopping cart. Then the first night outside. Then the first month outside. Your humanity is now second to your survival. You act out. You don't even think a way back exists.

Now, is the attempt by the County to reach down and pull some individuals out of the darkness really such a bother to the rest of us? No, not profoundly. Miramar was definitely not the place. Closer to the town center is.

Your thoughts?

John Charles Ullom

"It could even be that the supervisors don’t want you to know they’re misusing federal coronavirus relief funds on a pet project."

Nailed it. The county is real close to committing fraud. Just like Half Moon Bay committed fraud when it used Build America Bonds to pay a judgment. That did not work out well:

https://www.hmbreview.com/news/city-explains-deal-to-prevent-irs-penalties/article_7c4b6946-681a-11e1-b464-0019bb2963f4.html

This is what the money they want to use is supposed to be spent on:

The CARES Act provides that payments from the Fund may only be used to cover costs that—

1. are necessary expenditures incurred due to the public health emergency with respect to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID–19);

2. were not accounted for in the budget most recently approved as of March 27, 2020 (the date of enactment of the CARES Act) for the State or government; and

3. were incurred during the period that begins on March 1, 2020, and ends on December 30, 2020.

https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Guidance-for-State-Territorial-Local-and-Tribal-Governments.pdf

They intend to spend millions buying a property meant to address a problem that existed well before Covid and will exist long after Covid. The money is supposed to cover Covid costs incurred before 2021.

Does anybody think the County can buy that property and move in homeless folks in the next 30 days? If Covid and Homelessness is the issue, would not a better use be to rent hotel rooms for the next six months? And even at that, there is no reason to think the homeless will behave differently, with respect to Covid, just because they are living in a hotel room. Are they going to be confined to their rooms? I doubt it.

Here is a link to guidance provide by the Feds as to what can and cannot be done with Cares Act Funding: -- https://home.treasury.gov/system/files/136/Coronavirus-Relief-Fund-Frequently-Asked-Questions.pdf

Our county is about to commit fraud. Like a looter, the supervisors want to take advantage of a crisis. K&N is going to score millions. Not sure how the county knows that K&N wants to dump these properties. They are not listed for sale anywhere I can find.

A PRA request with the county revealed lots of objections sent in by Coastiders but not one communication or document was provided that explained how the County found out about this opportunity.

"It could even be that the supervisors don’t want you to know they’re misusing federal coronavirus relief funds on a pet project."

Yep.

JustinStockman

"because she is not a member of his community"

Well isn't that quaint. If I don't view the business as part of my community, should I ignore this whole example? If I don't view Quinn as part of my community, am I okay to ignore this whole letter?

August West

Poor Justin. Looks like this angered him.

Quinn IS a member of our community. He grew up here. He went to school here.

You can ignore anyone you want - it doesn't make you right.

Another Concerned Citizen

Thank you August. Quinn was born her, lived in HMB all his life, went to the HMB public high school, worked for the HMB Feed and Fuel, has been active in both City and County politics, wrote multiple pieces for the HMB Review, and now goes to a nearby college. People who insult individuals with whom they disagree should do so privately, not on public comment boards.

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