Disguising a Public Safety Crisis as a Housing Crisis
May 30, 2019
By Ron Bassilian
Special to the Observer
Another day, another camp. The latest vagrant camp has emerged on Inglewood Blvd. under the 90 freeway, by the very upscale Sunkist Park. First, it’s a couple of tents, then more, then it becomes a city in its own right - entitled to city services such as sanitation clean up, and soon we have a permanent camp with property rights.
These camps are a breeding ground for petty crime, drugs, and disease such as scabies and staphylococcus. Recently, Dr Drew warned us of the “epidemic typhus” which we haven’t seen since the civil war. Even measles has started to make its way into camps. The circumstance only promises to get worse because our current government has put its hands up and declined to enforce vagrancy laws, creating a city where anyone can take up residence anywhere.
The camps are also a breeding ground for crime. They host a resident burglar population that brazenly displays the bounty of their thievery in camps. Hundreds of bicycles and fixtures from resident homes festoon their tent blocks that are in reality open air chop shops where the belongings of local citizens are traded for cash and drugs. Local residents and police are powerless to do anything about it because they have become a population of criminals immune from the reach of the law. This unchecked criminal activity is dangerous because it serves to embolden what may have been a one-time offender, encouraging burglary as a way of life, and why not? We all but invite it.
So how did we get here? Is it an issue of “affordable housing” as the Democrats claim? No, there’s something deeper going on.
This issue began in 2006, when the ACLU won a case against law enforcement. The 9th circuit court of appeals argued that police can’t break up homeless camps if the vagrants “have nowhere to go.” They hailed this victory as an “end to criminalizing homelessness.” This is an outright lie. We have no interest in keeping vagrants in jail, we just want them off the streets, away from where we live and work. It’s a public health issue and a public safety issue.
Any impartial person can see where this ruling would go. If anybody can sleep anywhere, with no repercussions, then that’s exactly what people do. And that’s what’s happening – this policy attracts more vagrants to come and settle here. Their camps pop up everywhere – in rich neighborhoods, in poor neighborhoods, on the beach in front of multi-million dollar homes.
As if the ACLU ruling wasn’t bad enough, the state of California has watered down its penal system to make petty crime impossible to combat. A few years ago, California’s prison system became so bad that the federal government sued the state to reduce prison overcrowding. Rather than build prisons to match population growth or find better ways to keep residents safe from criminals, state Democrats instead released everyone they could.
Enter Props 47, 57, and AB109. Let’s recap how state Democrats hoodwink well-intentioned voters to pass laws that work so disastrously against us:
Prop 47: reclassifies drug and property crimes as misdemeanors rather than felonies. This is what’s made the criminal element of these vagrant camps impossible to prosecute. Shoplifters and bike thieves, and drug pushers now act with impunity, because they know nobody is coming after them. As constituents have told me, there are legitimate homeless in these camps, but the criminals hide among them. As long as we can’t prosecute the criminals, these camps remain a hotbed of crime.
Prop 57: Grants early release to “non-violent offenders.” The catch is the drafters never defined which offenses were non-violent. This has led to the release of some rather violent people. “sex traffickers, rapists, abusive spouses and even drive-by shooters have qualified for early release under the state’s nonviolent parole process.”
AB109: Amends more than 500 criminal statutes, reduces penalties for parole violations, and shifts thousands of convicted felons from state prison to county jails. This is the big one. Democrats love to talk about how the mentally ill shouldn’t be put in jail. But our old jail system actually had programs to take care of the mentally ill and get them the help they need. Now petty criminals have to share county jails with hardened criminals who belong in more secure facilities. This kills our ability to treat people and burdens jails with a function they can’t handle.
In all three laws, we see how state Democrats hoodwinked voters. This is their modus operandi. They use pretty phrases like “rehabilitation”, “victimless crimes”, “don’t criminalize homelessness” to hide the reality that they’re just backing out of the public safety business. They simply don’t care about your safety, or mine. Meanwhile, they have no problem keeping where they live and work safe and clean.
Even our public health system is under siege. Our representative Karen Bass brags about the Community Coalition she created. She funneled $3 million from the Center for Disease Control to this organization – which is basically out campaigning for Democrats. That money could be better spent, maybe, studying the various diseases that threaten to overwhelm our district? Diseases that we thought we eradicated a century ago?
Democrats have watered down our penal system, and this is the result. Now they’re taking this public safety crisis of their making and are using it as an excuse to take over people’s homes and neighborhoods.
They pretend it’s a problem with housing costs, and they need to regulate our homes to solve this problem they created. SB50, statewide rent control, the repeal of Prop 13, they relentlessly push all these issues in the name of “affordable housing” and point to these tent cities as a problem this will solve.
Yes, that’s right. Every vagrant who wanders into our city is owed a free house and stipend, and needles, and we have to give it to them. Meanwhile Democrats pass more taxes on working citizens, like Measures H and HHH, to pretend they’re solving the problem. It’s been over two years since these measures were passed and we’re seeing no signs of the money being spent anywhere they promised.
Under the current state administration, this problem is on the fast track to madness and ruin. I legitimately think California can’t take two more years of this trajectory. That’s why I decided to step into the political arena. I wanted to represent the besieged resident, the overburdened taxpayer, who plays by the rules and abides by the law, whom state Democrats have abandoned.
For confronting this problem, for contradicting the state Democrat party line and saying we have a legitimate law enforcement and public health crisis, I have been smeared as a (very Jewish) Nazi, a white supremacist, a greedy fat cat, a Trump/Putinbot … more smears than any private citizen would care to deal with. It’s what I expect from a one-party monopoly, and it’s enough to make me want to move out of state. But I stay, and I fight, because I love Los Angeles, my wife and I want to keep it our home, and we want it to be great again. I do hope you will join me in fighting to take back California and our local cities.
Ron Bassilian was the GOP candidate for CA’s 37th congressional district in 2018. You can read more about his take on the homeless issue at ronfor37.org/homeless