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

  1. Sue June 9, 2021 at 5:06 pm #

    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 then my children went back to Orange County to live. My daughter went to Bishop high school and my son worked for Manor True value and I delivered newspapers to Independence and Lone Pine. My daughter took AG in school and loved it. My children always came across homeless people and I raised them to have compassion for everyone. If the people talk, they are above all the homeless or less fortunate they weren’t raised with any morals, and they definitely don’t teach their own kids it. I am a disabled female living in her car with my service dog. Because I fly a sign for gas or food or simply help, I have been spit on, rocks thrown at me, rotten tomatoes thrown at me, and foul words yelled at me and ALL MY YOUR CHILDREN. I am part of the community. I shop here, I get gas here, I have a PO Box here, I Live Here. The supervisors need to walk in our shoes for a month during the hot summer and cold winter months. You won’t make it. See how people treat you. Good and Bad. I hate being homeless. I Thank God there are Good people in this community. I Thank God there is Salvation Army and IMACA are here. I Thank God there are still good people within our community. Thank you for all that are trying to find us somewhere to park that is safe and that we are not harassed by Law Enforcement. Don’t Fear us!!

  2. RC de Mordaigle February 20, 2021 at 1:03 pm #

    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.

  3. Single Father February 18, 2021 at 11:24 am #

    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:

  4. Single Father February 18, 2021 at 8:23 am #

    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 daughter. I have been locked out of the housing market by the amount of exhorbant rent forced to pay. My credit rating is impeccable but I still can’t save enough for the required down payment and make too much to qualify for assisted loans. From no fault if my own, my daughter and I could be homeless in a month.

    What you are doing in this valley is shameful. To hear these comments and no votes from our leaders is absolutely disappointing and disgusting. I still manage to scrape up a meager sum for charity each month even in my position, even if that means I skip dinner once a week because that is what God would want from me.

    Rural values. Yeah, ok. How about no values. Just fear mongers and selfishness. Your underpants are showing. It must be nice to have so much privilege and a mindset to keep hoarding at all costs, even scaring your own constituents. I bet that works great, for you.

  5. Eat the young to feed the dying. February 18, 2021 at 7:40 am #

    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 February 19, 2021 at 10:11 am #

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

  6. Vote these jokers out. February 18, 2021 at 7:26 am #

    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 frigging break. That is abold statement for you to make from your place of privilege. I wonder if any of the 3 have ever experienced hunger or homelessness? Doubtful, probably just good ole boys nepotism disguised as “rural valies.”

  7. God is watching you February 18, 2021 at 7:10 am #

    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.

  8. Pam Mitchell February 18, 2021 at 5:00 am #

    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 the Nazarene members were not in opposition, nor the kids who are involved in the ag project – unless their parents instructed them otherwise. I question the Board of Supervisor’s interference, and their ability to render such a biased, discriminatory decision. The fact that one – only ONE – church stepped up to offer a safe place for homeless people sleeping in their cars may be indicative of Bishop’s “rural values” – or maybe more accurately – their Christian values? I don’t believe for one minute that this decision reflects the values of the majority of Bishop’s citizens.

  9. Ben Dover February 17, 2021 at 10:27 pm #

    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 how many cars will fit in your driveway. Now I know this will trigger alot of you to be angry at me for posting this, but if you really do care about these homeless people, then prove it.

    • I'm not afraid if you. February 18, 2021 at 7:50 am #

      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 February 18, 2021 at 8:14 am #

      Learn to spell.

    • Single Father February 18, 2021 at 8:26 am #

      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 money where your mouth is?

    • David Dennison February 18, 2021 at 9:18 am #

      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 own business what the Nazarine Church as IMACA wants to do.
      It’s not your property or yard.
      You sound the type,if your nearby neighbors did want to open their yards or homes to the homeless,my bet is you’d say it’s endangering YOU( me,me,me ),and complain about that too.

    • Stop non-essential travel February 18, 2021 at 2:15 pm #

      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.” ?

  10. Dan Chirpich February 17, 2021 at 5:36 pm #

    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 be flexible to consider each case and the underlying values of folks sharing differing viewpoints here (e.g. compassion, but also not facilitating enabling).

  11. Oldtimer February 17, 2021 at 4:37 pm #

    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.

  12. Stop non-essential travel February 17, 2021 at 4:26 pm #

    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.

  13. Philip Anaya February 17, 2021 at 3:02 pm #

    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 folks. Jeff Griffiths is correct in his statement “Now it’s incumbent on the community to come up with a solution” and I would add in this purple tier covid pandemic “as soon as possible” I am thinking of a site maybe it’s a empty DWP tin building and an empty lot on North Sierra Highway adjacent to the Bishop Vet Hospital that could accommodate this needed IMACA proposal. It is somewhat isolated away from everything. It looks like there is water and power, just what the DWP does so well and maybe with some modifications there could be some showers, a laundry facility, a kitchen and all the rest of basic needs folks need to live in some kind of dignity, to get back on their feet. There are plenty of us with skill sets to share and volunteer and it is exactly if all things can come together, hopefully what our community needs.

    • Disgusted by the supes February 18, 2021 at 9:11 am #

      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!!!!

  14. Bob February 17, 2021 at 10:50 am #

    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 February 17, 2021 at 1:23 pm #

      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 February 17, 2021 at 3:22 pm #

      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 February 17, 2021 at 5:27 pm #

      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 February 18, 2021 at 6:22 pm #

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

  15. Stop non-essential travel February 17, 2021 at 10:09 am #

    “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 are HS kids, participating in a HS program not supervised during this time by an adult?), and concern for patients at BCC as well as NIH …. seriously ? STOP CRIMINALIZING THE HOMELESS.

  16. bishop local February 17, 2021 at 9:41 am #

    “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.

  17. Healthcare Worker February 17, 2021 at 9:21 am #

    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 Roeser, Rick Pucci, or Matt Kingsley. Housed people aren’t entitled to more respect/dignity/human rights than unhoused people. It’s a shame that Bishop leaders mistake prejudice, cruelty, and apathy for “rural values.”
    When unhoused people end up in the Emergency Room for conditions that could have been avoided if their safety were a concern, I guess those leaders will probably blame the unhoused folks again. Forgetting that it’s a “rural value” to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes before making judgements, or before enacting boundaries that are counterproductive against public health. I sure hope the three of them never end up homeless during the winter months. “Rural values” folks might be unwilling to help them, although real rural people probably would be willing to help them. Twisting words and definitions is a weak way to justify their entitled prejudices.

  18. Korina February 17, 2021 at 8:44 am #

    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 atrocity!!! My gosh these are homeless people, for who knows what reason, just hoping for a safe place so they can sleep their their car. Read that again, SLEEP IN THEIR CAR because they have no where else. That is their home. “Rural values…” What about human decency, what about compassion, what about grace? What a disgrace. 🙁

  19. dpblue February 17, 2021 at 8:41 am #

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

  20. InyoArabians February 17, 2021 at 8:21 am #

    “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.

  21. Quilting Gramdma February 17, 2021 at 8:19 am #

    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 a pandemic that is forcing people onto the streets. Shame on you, Supervisor Roeser!

  22. Jubie February 17, 2021 at 8:18 am #

    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.

  23. Genevieve Woods February 17, 2021 at 8:11 am #

    Thank you for your reporting on this.

  24. VillageWitch February 17, 2021 at 6:15 am #

    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 up and offered free food and services. These people need mental health and drug and alcohol programs. Giving them 2 weeks free camping in a parking lot is not going to turn their life around or house them. I also learned during my own employment at IMACA that if you build it they will come. Word of mouth spreads like fire among the homeless and they flock to any free help. Kudos to the three Supervisors for voting against this terrible concept and backing the residents and students of the city of Bishop.

    • No Homeless Problem???!!!! February 17, 2021 at 9:42 am #

      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 IMACA? Just because they weren’t on Main Street so often? And I think the point many of the more compassionate people are trying to make is these are NOT just people with substance abuse and mental health problems! There are families and children, veterans and elders for goddess sake!
      How many hundreds of people has the IMACA food bank helped in this year alone? Over the decades I have known so many elders, most widowed, that were/are barley surviving after paying their rent and heating bills, let alone trying to pay the outrageous grocery costs that plagued Bishop before the recent competition. IMACA, and especially their food bank have been a lifeline for them, keeping many from starvation.
      Do you have any better solutions or just want to blame and stop the agencies that are trying to help?

    • dpblue February 17, 2021 at 10:32 am #

      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 February 17, 2021 at 11:18 am #

      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 February 17, 2021 at 11:51 am #

      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 February 17, 2021 at 3:17 pm #

      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 the rise is because we were “testing too much.”

    • Harold February 17, 2021 at 6:11 pm #

      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 can be proud.
      Also, teenagers including those at the farm need to see what the real world is like, that there are homeless everywhere, that it is a PROBLEM. I know ignorance is bliss but it doesn’t create solutions. Real world life lessons should not wait until they move away to college.

      • Lydia February 17, 2021 at 9:22 pm #

        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 an adult literacy instructor with low income and homeless adults and it was hugely rewarding, and certainly gave me an appreciation for the privilege of education.

    • Stop non-essential travel February 17, 2021 at 8:08 pm #

      “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 a sad generalization you make.

    • God is watching you February 18, 2021 at 8:47 am #

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

  25. Scott February 17, 2021 at 4:51 am #

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


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