Dear Honorable Mayor Voepel,
I am writing you with my concerns with Town Center Park and the transients within the park. I want to enjoy the park as a community member and I feel that they are disgracing our parks! Today I went for a run around the park only to be welcomed with pot smoke as I was trying to fill my lungs with fresh air.
Not to mention the transient that was sleeping in the bathroom at the softball field last month! Kids are at the park daily! It is a disgrace that the community paid so much for a park only for it to be de-faced by the transients. The rumors around the "mom" community it that it is called "homeless" park. How EMBARRASSING for Santee! Please help this park! Santee needs it.
Thank you for your time.
Reply from the Mayor:
You are exactly correct. I/your City Council, City Staff and Law Enforcement/Fire have been battling the Homeless problem in Santee for over 30 years (16 for me).
For years there have been 12-15 homeless in the Riverbottom, mostly older folks and long time Santee Riverbottom dwellers. Those homeless were about 1/3 mentally impaired, 1/3 drug or alcohol impaired and 1/3 down on their luck.
Today, unfortunately that has changed for the worst. There are now 30-45 homeless, with a majority of them younger methamphetamine (methheads, tweekers, etc.) and also more young women. Many of these people are up from the San Diego river area, ironically the violence levels are higher in San Diego and many feel safer in Santee.
This adds greater danger to our children and more petty crime to support their drug habits. Our Deputy Sheriffs sweep through the Riverbottom fairly often. I go on sweeps with them periodically (I am a Vietnam combat veteran). These sweeps are muddy, dangerous, smelly (human waste & worst) rough going.
Here is the drill: We cite them for illegal camping or other violations. After three citations they are often arrested. These arrests receive various short/medium jail terms.
Some get Court orders to stay out of Santee. However these homeless have constitutional protections just like you and I have. Due process and their human rights must be protected by law.
The City is also suffering from higher copper thefts, RV batteries and other property thefts. The homeless are mainly petty thefts. There are organized theft rings that specialize in RV batteries, copper and other items. This is a never-ending struggle for Santee.
We are STILL one of the lowest crime rate Cities in the County (surrounded by much higher crime rate areas) but as they say in the US Navy at sea; "Eternal vigilance is the price of safety". So Ms. Knierim, Our City and our Deputies will continue to work very hard at keeping a "zone of control" over the Riverbottom. Remember, this homeless problem has been with us since biblical times.
Mayor, City of Santee
COMMENT: Have you heard Town Center Park referred to as "Homeless Park"? Do you feel safe using the park?
See related stories:
- Santee Crime: Juvenile Stickup, 17 Camping Along River Cited
- San Diego River Restoration Involves Clearing Homeless, And Their Trash
- Cartgate 2014: Santee Council Tackles Abandoned Shopping Carts
- 'Tweekers' Steal Copper Using Government Aid Cell Phones, Says Santee Mayor