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Letters (June 6, 2018)

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Letter to the Editor (based on Public Comments to Ukiah City Council 04/18/2018)

Dear Ukiah City Councilmembers, in light of Mendocino County’s consultant Dr. Robert Marbut’s report, I have profound concerns about how your current plan “in concept” will help the homeless become productive citizens and decrease their impact on Ukiah.

In six months following receipt of a petition requesting a moratorium on all Ukiah homeless related planning matters with 780 signatures, you increased Ukiah’s homeless-serving day-use facilities from three to five. Per Dr. Marbut’s report, one is all we need. You have done the exact opposite of Ukiah petitioner’s request and Dr. Marbut’s expert recommendations.

After the publication of Dr. Marbut’s final report, your Planning Commission appointees oversaw a bizarre “variance process” forcing approval of the 150 Luce Avenue project. Many neighbors on Luce Avenue opposed this project, counter to what the public was told. Further, there was no public discussion of the site’s full commercial kitchen. You need not be clairvoyant to envision meals being served in the near future.

What “progress” has our community seen as a result? The 2017 Ukiah PD Performance Report Arrest Demographic shows 41% were transients (by far the largest category). Last week’s report (05/19/2018) shows transient arrests at 43%.

While approving Dr. Marbut’s report “in concept”, now you are waiting for Mendocino County officials to tell you what to do next. I can tell you what they will say – Keep doing the great job you have historically done! Look at Fort Bragg and Willits – they have shut down their homeless services and, presto, most of those folks magically reappear in Ukiah. Great for Mendocino County ‘in concept”, not so great for Ukiah…in practice.

Continuing policies counter to Dr. Marbut’s expert advice and enabling mendicants with more meals, more services, and more swag will not motivate them to become productive citizens. Not in practice, not even “in concept”. Such warped decisions are what has brought Ukiah to the forefront in per capita homeless in the nation.

Considering the facts above, please explain to your constituents how approving Dr. Marbut’s report “in concept” will actually help the homeless get back on their feet and decrease their impact on our community.

Ed Haynes

South Ukiah

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No mention of the obvious solution to the plague of purple urchins decimating the bull kelp: sea otters (“Revenge on tiny purple sea creatures,” Saturday). Once swarming our coast until trapped in the 1800s, sea otters love purple urchins.

Since they eat 20 percent of their body weight a day, and are the apex predator of urchins, it seems logical to reintroduce the sea otter to our coast. Otters near Monterey have been seen with purple jaws from eating so many urchins.

While laudable, several dozen divers won’t make a dent on the urchin population. The kelp forests below my cabin in Big Sur are robust and healthy. I see anywhere from five to 20 otters on a given day. Why aren’t we talking about the logical solution?

Peter Prunsuke


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To the Editor:

Don’t be irresponsible with Measure B.

I am highly concerned regarding the direction the Measure B committee is taking. I was asked last year to support Measure B. I was told the process would start with identifying what services are needed and then move on to what type of facility to build.

This is not the direction the committee has been taking. They are already deciding to utilize the old Howard Hospital before knowing what services are needed. This is the absolute wrong direction.

The committee doesn’t even know if an inpatient facility will be needed. Redwood Community Services is building a new crisis center in Ukiah. This center will significantly reduce the number of people in need of hospitalization. It is highly likely that there will not be enough daily patients to allow an inpatient facility to be fiscally viable.

At the same time the old Howard would be an irresponsible choice for any type of Measure B facility. First, the vast majority of people in need of inpatient services are coming from Ukiah. Secondly, the cost of transporting people the 30 minutes to Willits will be substantial. And thirdly, it is far better to build a new facility — one built to last decades — than reuse a 90 year-old facility that will need regular, costly maintenance.

At the same time, it is a medical facility. Inpatient psychiatric facilities have very specific design needs. They are nothing like medical facilities. The old Howard is a very bad choice. Major demolition and rebuilding would have to take place for it to be successfully utilized as an inpatient facility. The Howard Hospital Foundation is simply wrong about the facilities capacity to be utilized for a Measure B program.

I urge the committee to slow down, conduct a needs assessment, and understand that the facility should be located in the same community where the vast majority of its patients will be coming from.

It would be irresponsible to stay on the current course. It’s time for common sense.

William French


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I just returned from several weeks in Ireland and France. What was particularly noticeable to me were the clean streets and lack of homeless people or beggars on the streets of Dublin and Paris. I understand all urban downtowns have their challenges, but what do these local governments know and do that we don’t in our beautiful San Francisco? I asked locals about their homeless, and uniformly I was told that their taxes go to finding housing and services, as well as they have laws keeping people from living on the streets. Among other things, it’s a health issue, both mentally and physically. While many of these countries have higher taxes, they get a lot more back in services, and certainly a more pleasant environment. When will we ever wise up here?

Geri Spieler

Palo Alto

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I am offering my own personal experience of being a former homeless person to counter the biased and stereotyped view of homeless people as lazy, irresponsible drug addicts who are suffering from mental illness. I am a professional jazz musician and a former public school teacher. I also became a homeless person in 1983 after I lost my job teaching music in Cleveland’s public schools, and so could no longer keep up my rent payments for my apartment. For almost three years I had to endure sleeping outside—either on the cold and wet night-time streets or in the nearby woods. Every day was a constant challenge for me to find enough money to buy food and to find a place to sleep at night: A place where I wouldn’t be either arrested by the police or possibly attacked by some frustrated and angry person. I also had to endure the frequent insults of the many average citizens who couldn’t understand that good-paying jobs are not available to everyone on demand. I had to tolerate the rude comments of many others who became almost hysterical when they saw someone who they viewed as a failure in life. Most homeless people are much like I was in the 80s. They are merely trying to cope with an extremely competitive society that cares nothing for people who are not working every day and who don’t fit the description of a normal and average citizen. And compared to this nation’s most wealthy and powerful people, homeless people are of little danger to anyone. When was the last time a homeless person threatened to “totally destroy” a small country like North Korea with nuclear weapons? And what homeless person goes on television to brag that everyone who doesn’t agree with him is just spreading “fake news”? 

Rama Kumar

San Rafael

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The push by the wireless industry to end copper landlines is irresponsible. Copper landlines work when the power is out, fiber optic VOIP systems don’t. In an emergency, with no phone and no 911 services, people will be at risk for life threatening situations.

Who will pay the price? Seniors, businesses, people with electrical sensitivity, low-income people, rural residents, the hearing impaired and people who want a choice.

Cellphones aren’t safe substitutes for corded copper landline phones.

The California Department of Public Health issued a cellphone advisory stating research shows cellphone use may impact human health and children are more vulnerable. To reduce exposure, the department recommend:

  • Keeping cellphones away from the body.
  • Reducing cellphone use when the signal is weak
  • Reducing the use of cellphones to stream audio or video.
  • Keeping the phone away from the bed at night.
  • Removing headsets when not on a call.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer at the World Health Organization classifies cellphone radiation as a possible carcinogen. Cancer can take decades to develop. It’s important to reduce exposure to cellphones and other wireless devices. Saving landlines is an important solution for our future.

Sandi Maurer

Director, EMF Safety Network

Santa Rosa

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Is being homeless a crime? No, but the problem is far worse than a blanket on the sidewalk and obstructing pedestrians.

Mind you, most in the community, including myself have sympathy and would like to help the homeless family/person, but there is a huge difference between them and drug- and alcohol-induced people floating around our streets, and until we can discern, separate and have different solutions, the problem will only grow.

What we are doing isn’t working, and the general public is tired of it. I have witnessed, as I work and shop around town, hypodermic needles at schools and in parks. I’ve seen assaults and personally stopped two. Shoplifting. Public urination, defecation. Trash everywhere. I have seen over-aggressive panhandling, bordering on strong-armed robbery. I see open drug use and public intoxication.

It is getting so bad that I fear for my wife and children to be out after dark. If people are unwilling to accept a hand up and work with the resources to get on their feet, then we need to get tough with loitering and vagrancy laws and get them off the streets and make our community clean and safe.

Robert E. Ingham

Santa Rosa


  1. Jeff Costello June 6, 2018

    Too bad the northcoast is too rough to dive for urchins. They sell for big money in Japan.

  2. Zeke Krahlin June 6, 2018

    Rama Kumar:

    So sorry you had to experience homelessness. But thank you for your compassionate and down-to-earth take on this matter. Those who stereotype the homeless as lazy bums and drug addicts are disseminators of bigotry and fake news. I wish you the very best, Rama.

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