Revised IMACA Safe Parking Project Has Strong Support But Objections Override Compassion: Nimbyism carries the day

Safe parking for Homeless Denied by Inyo County

Pre-COVID, IMACA’s Housing and Planning Director Larry Emerson had plans for a safe parking project for the homeless living out of their vehicles at the Nazarene Church on West Line Street in Bishop. The plans were turned down yesterday, February 16, by the Inyo Board of Supervisors. The major issue was the fact the Church backs up to the pasture used by the Bishop High School ag department.

The program would provide secure, monitored parking from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. for individuals and families living out of their cars. If the homeless issue was bad a year ago, COVID-19 has made it worse with business and restaurant closures.

Over the last year, Emerson held a community workshop, via Zoom, developed a safety plan including additional fencing between the church and the field. The plan got a nod from the Sheriff’s and Bishop Police departments and the Planning Commission. Then came an appeal of that approval by those who opposed the project.

Especially if you are poor, homeless, and living in your vehicle in Bishop

Emerson came back to the Board Tuesday. Despite strong support from public comments during the meeting, the plan was nixed again by the Board with a 3-2 vote. Supervisors Jeff Griffiths and Dan Totheroh were the two yes votes.  District Supervisors Rick Pucci, Jen Roeser, and Matt Kingsley voted no, effectively killing the project for the homeless. (Nimbyism carried the day.)

While the school’s ag program teaches a lot of good life lessons, compassion doesn’t seem to be one of them. The three nay votes, Jennifer Roeser, Matt Kingsley and Rick Pucci, all praised the concept, just not in close proximity to children. The children they were trying to protect are probably living in homes, as opposed to the children living out of cars.

The general refrain was: it’s a good idea, but not the right location. Emerson explained Eddie Davis was the only reverend in Bishop who was receptive. IMACA even got turned down by the Tri-County Fairgrounds.

The advantage of a central, monitored site, Emerson pointed out, is the presence of IMACA’s outreach specialists who could link the participants to supportive services, including a link to permanent housing. The January 2020 Point in Time homeless count identified 123 homeless in Bishop, half of whom were living out of their cars. Nine were fleeing domestic violence, eight were veterans and there was 13 families with children. “Our priority will be families and those with disabilities,” Emerson said. In addition, those using the overnight parking would be screened to the extent allowed by law and subject to a long list of regulations.

For a while, it seemed the Board was receptive. However, Supervisor Roeser said the County’s culture was based on rural values and made those values seem counter-indicative to the project.

“I’m disappointed,” says Second District Supvr. Jeff Griffiths

“County’s culture base on rural values; seems counter indicative to the project,” says Fourth District Supervisor, Jen Roeser, voting against the project.

The issue before the Board was to approve, or not, an appeal to the Planning Commission’s approval of the plan. A denial of the appeal would approve the project.

Griffiths had the last word following the vote that killed the plan. “I’m disappointed,” he said. “Now it’s incumbent on the community to come up with a solution.”

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45 Comments
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Sue
Sue
1 year ago

This is a community I brought my kids and I to live and enjoy Nature and for them to appreciate and help and be proud of their community. I am educated with 3 degrees. I fell into hard times, and we lost our home that was in January 2015, since… Read more »

RC de Mordaigle
RC de Mordaigle
1 year ago

Interesting juxtaposition, the ad for prebuilt outdoor dog houses that follows this string, which are better than what the folks have whom IMACA is trying to help. The opposition vote by the three supervisors is embarrassing, not to mention cold hearted.

Single Father
Single Father
1 year ago

I highly suggest everyone reach out to the board for public comment as I intend to do. This does not represent our community values in the slightest. You can find information to do so here: https://www.inyocounty.us/government/board-supervisors/board-meetings

Single Father
Single Father
1 year ago

I am fortunate enough to be employed. I count my blessings every day. As a single father I can barely make rent. Even at the top end of income in the valley it is a struggle. I am fiscally conservative and only buy what I need for myself and my… Read more »

Eat the young to feed the dying.
Eat the young to feed the dying.
1 year ago

Interesting fact. Even a snake has a spine, what’s up with Pucci? Has he always been afraid of his own shadow or is this a new development?

Dean
Dean
1 year ago

He certainly has done absolutely nothing to represent or assist me when I’ve reached out on a few issues.

Vote these jokers out.
Vote these jokers out.
1 year ago

So let me get this straight. We can spend millions on a county office building but we can’t allow others to take care of homeless kids, vets and the disabled in someone else’s parking lot? I think your “rural valies” excuse is running paper thin their folks. Give me a… Read more »

God is watching you
God is watching you
1 year ago

Absolutely disgusting statement Supervisor Roeser. Way to hide behind manipulated politics at the expense of children. You should be ashamed of yourself. This community also has compassionate values, just so you are aware.

Pam Mitchell
Pam Mitchell
1 year ago

More than disappointed, I’m angry – so will limit my comments for right now. The Safe Parking Project has strong community support – yet was blown-away by the difference of one vote. Emerson and the reverend had a reasonable, workable plan, with the approval of other interested entities. I’m guessing… Read more »

Ben Dover
Ben Dover
1 year ago

How many of you simpathetic liberals are willing to allow homeless to park in your driveway or camp in your back yard? Put your money where your mouth is. Go to Nazarine Church, give them your address and let them know how many tents will fit in your backyard and… Read more »

I'm not afraid if you.
I'm not afraid if you.
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dover

As many kids, vets and disabled as I can help I will. That is called human compassion. It is a whole new paradigm full of blessings and joy. You should check it out, open your mind. Stop living in fear.

dpblue
dpblue
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dover

Learn to spell.

Single Father
Single Father
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dover

Great idea, I wish I could. However I don’t havea driveway or yard because I can’t afford a house due to my exhorbant rent. So maybe send me your number, and when my daughter and I are rendered homeless you let me sleep in your driveway? Come on, put your… Read more »

David Dennison
David Dennison
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dover

Ben Dover’ One thing to have people,anyone,homeless or not living in your yard and on your property. Another thing,if it’s a Church and IMACA willing to help those with parking and maybe helping to get some people and families back on their feet,especially through a pandemic. In other words,mind your… Read more »

Stop non-essential travel
Stop non-essential travel
1 year ago
Reply to  Ben Dover

Yes, I’m a sympathetic liberal, and I have a question for you: when you use the phrase ‘homeless’ do you mean: “Nine fleeing domestic violence, eight veterans and 13 families with children.” ?

Dan Chirpich
Dan Chirpich
1 year ago

Any broad generalization about a homeless person is going to be inaccurate at times. Will some mooch indefinitely if given an opportunity, probably. However, are there others who are fine individuals in any sense, probably. Folks with views on either side have valid points. I’d expect a successful approach to… Read more »

Oldtimer
Oldtimer
1 year ago

I’m very disappointed in the “I got mine” attitudes informing this decision.
Some bad karma getting banked here…
I don’t consider myself a liberal or a Christian but I think Matthew 25 has a comment on this
worth reviewing.

Stop non-essential travel
Stop non-essential travel
1 year ago

And so, will they be shutting down The Trees Motel and Mountain View Motel ? Those also allow overnight visitors and are also in close proximity to children. I’m not certain they screen any of their overnight stays.

Philip Anaya
Philip Anaya
1 year ago

This is a difficult issue for folks, sleeping and making a home in the car . It is most difficult if you are one of the folks doing that kind of housekeeping especially if there are kids involved. As the hours go by today there remains the issue for these… Read more »

Disgusted by the supes
Disgusted by the supes
1 year ago
Reply to  Philip Anaya

That would be a great idea, except those same children we need to protect at the school farm take their animals to that vet. We couldn’t possibly run the risk of having those children even see the homeless people. THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!!!

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

The U.S.F.S. and various other agencies are smart enough to tell people to not feed the bears because they will become dependant. Might be a lesson in that

Genevieve Woods
Genevieve Woods
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

Your comment is particularly offensive. People down on their luck are bears? Children should be treated like animals? It is a gross analogy.

Healthcare Worker
Healthcare Worker
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

It’s going to be an interesting ride when you or your family end up homeless, Bob, through a series of unfortunate events. Then you’ll understand what it feels like to have someone (like you) equate you to an animal.

Dan Chirpich
Dan Chirpich
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

Although there is perhaps truth to this in some cases, it is also a small-minded comment in that it doesn’t consider whether it applies to everyone. Your underlying point is a good one, but your delivery is ineffective and revealing of your attitude.

DingDong
DingDong
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

Disgusting comment. Have a sliver of empathy for victims of domestic abuse, homeless families with children, and those less fortunate than you.

Stop non-essential travel
Stop non-essential travel
1 year ago

“Meet the Candidate” Sierra Wave, March 2020, Jen Roeser: “She sees government as a facilitator in matters like the housing shortage.” Or not, apparently. Ridiculous arguments made in the other article on this same issue: concern for the kids at the farm (apparently minors who are not supervised ?, why… Read more »

bishop local
bishop local
1 year ago

“Griffiths had the last word following the vote that killed the plan. “I’m disappointed,” he said. “Now it’s incumbent on the community to come up with a solution.”

Well said, Jeff.

Healthcare Worker
Healthcare Worker
1 year ago

Jen Roeser says the project goes against “rural values”? I interpret rural values to include caring for your neighbor/fellow human being, but I guess some people disagree with that idea. Anyone can become homeless in a very short amount of time due to a series of unfortunate events, including Jen… Read more »

Korina
Korina
1 year ago

WOW!!! Can someone, mainly the 3 Supervisors that voted NO on this, please tell me why a homeless person, family, child possess such a great risk to the population that they can’t even have a safe place to sleep while in a secured, patrolled church parking lot? What a an… Read more »

dpblue
dpblue
1 year ago

Apparently some supervisors “rural values” don’t include compassion or empathy.

InyoArabians
InyoArabians
1 year ago

“Rural values” means not helping those in need? Ok Jen Roeser, I’ll remember that. Kind of ridiculous that 3 Supervisors whose districts are not even close to this project’s boundaries are able to kill it.

Quilting Gramdma
Quilting Gramdma
1 year ago

Easy to say that the county’s “culture” is rural when you live on a giant parcel, set apart from all of our communities in the Eastern Sierra. How can Supervisor Roeser know what the needs of the homeless in Bishop are? This isn’t 1915, it’s 2021, and we are in… Read more »

Jubie
Jubie
1 year ago

While this piece of journalism is far from impartial or balanced, I agree with the author.
Compassion and empathy need to come first. The problem of homeless citizens won’t go away just by voting no. Disappointed in our leaders.

Genevieve Woods
Genevieve Woods
1 year ago

Thank you for your reporting on this.

VillageWitch
VillageWitch
1 year ago

This article is biased. Just because a lot of us lifelong residents don’t want a homeless encampment doesn’t mean we’re not compassionate, it means we have more concern and compassion for our children, families, neighbors and our community. Bishop never had a homeless problem until IMACA and Salvation Army opened… Read more »

No Homeless Problem???!!!!
No Homeless Problem???!!!!
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

What!!!???? I think a more accurate statement would be something along the lines of Bishop didn’t have a visible or an acknowledged homeless problem before IMACA and Salvation Army. How many generations have you been living here? How have you not come across the local homeless in the decades before… Read more »

dpblue
dpblue
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

Village Witch you state these people need alcohol or addiction therapy.
Some may yes and this program would try to direct them towards that help.
Your comment lacks compassion and common sense.

Jubie
Jubie
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

Village Witch- what a simplistic reply. This is a complicated and multi-faceted issue and to lump all homeless as drug addicts and mental health patients is inane. Even those people need compassion though. How heartless. Sigh.

Piner
Piner
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

Village Witch, to quote you, ” …it means we have more concern and compassion for our children, families, neighbors and our community…” These homeless people ARE part of your COMMUNITY.

Healthcare Worker
Healthcare Worker
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

Villiage Witch thinks there is no problem until basic services are offered? Folks show up because they were already in need….research is done about the need for the services before the services are even offered. She probably agrees with the ex-president when he said the reason COVID cases were on… Read more »

Harold
Harold
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

Lifelong resident? I am a 4th generation resident and I care about the whole community, especially homeless children. And I also live in Suvervisor Roesers district. You should resign for the comment about your rural views, it is clear you are not representing this district in a way that we… Read more »

Lydia
Lydia
1 year ago
Reply to  Harold

Well said Harold, and I would add that High School students are required to engage in “community service” activities as a graduation requirement. Perhaps an opportunity is being missed here for something that could be meaningful for all parties. Many years ago as a high school student I volunteered as… Read more »

Stop non-essential travel
Stop non-essential travel
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

“These people need mental health and drug and alcohol programs.” You might be surprised at the number of people living in really nice homes with really good jobs, and that you might even know and respect, possibly your neighbors, who also need “mental health and drug and alcohol programs.” What… Read more »

God is watching you
God is watching you
1 year ago
Reply to  VillageWitch

No, VillageWitch, you are biased. Also very ignorant. Your comments are very revealing of your character.

Scott
Scott
1 year ago

Perfect title for this story. Nimbyism seems to trump compassion more often than not, sadly.