The City of Anaheim has been removing benches from bus stops around the Anaheim Resort area because they’ve been taken over by homeless people, the OC Register reports:
Since October, the city has taken out bus benches at the four stops at Harbor Boulevard and Katella Avenue, and another bench further north in front of the Captain Kidd’s restaurant.
City spokesman Mike Lyster said having benches had “outlived its purpose.” Some homeless in the area, he said, often used the covered stops as a makeshift shelter and the benches as beds. Illegal activity was common, he said.
“It pains us to have to remove bus benches,” Lyster said. “We know many people use them to get to and from work, or to visit the resort. But the reality is bus riders lost use of these benches a long time ago. Bus riders would end up standing in the sun waiting for buses as the benches were taken up.”
While necessary, this is also an illustration of local government failure to uphold its primary duty of protecting the safety of the public. Furthermore, it should be a reminder that government action cannot end homeless, any more than it can end social ills like poverty (we’ve spent 50 years and trillions of dollars attempting the latter, and the poverty rate is unchanged from the mid-1960s).
Local government can and should focus on enforcing the law and attending to its duty to preserving public order and liberty. The liberty of local citizens is circumscribed when they aren’t free to use the public amenities for which they pay, such as parks and bus stops and sidewalks – when their homes and businesses are exposed to criminal activity. Progressives tell us local government cannot do anything until it “addresses the root causes of homelessness.” Homeless encampments most be tolerated until homelessness is solved. That is a recipe for the permanency of the former due to the impossibility of the latter.
Now, Anaheim residents are told to wait while a homelessness working group proposed by Councilman Jose F. Moreno and approved by the rest of the council (with the notable and wise exception of Councilmembers Kris Murray and Lucille Kring) convenes to ruminate on the “root causes” of homelessness. What do Moreno and his allies think they’ll discover about the local homelessness epidemic that we don’t already know? Progressives love to dialogue and “engage” about root causes and propose government policies to “address” them; since they rarely work it creates endless opportunities to palaver about the need for continued ineffectual government attempts to solve the human condition.
The most likely result of the homelessness working group is a recommendation to repeal the anti-camping ordinance combined with the creation of city-sanctioned homeless encampments around Anaheim, which Tait and Moreno can use as “expert” cover to move their adoption. If it comes to that, the real question becomes whether Councilmembers Denise Barnes and James Vanderbilt vote with their allies and set off a revolt among their district constituents.