A Lesson to Learn

Open Letter to Santa Barbara City Council and County Government:

A recent article (Los Angeles Times, April 22, 2021) informed us about the resistance of the Santa Rosa, California, community to the location of a tent city for homeless people in a community center parking lot.

The city council listened to the neighbors’ strong objections and basically remained strong, saying that this has to be done, and we need to do this, period. The community then threatened to end their political careers. The mayor said, “Go ahead vote me out. It’s important for government to listen but these are our neighbors and we have to help them.”

The Santa Rosa experiment, which is a huge success, is one way for cities to move forward. Clearly, it takes leadership to push against NIMBYism. With good planning and a collaborative effort between the city, county and social service agencies, the residents who live near Santa Rosa’s “green tent” city are now engaged and supportive, and people who had been homeless are getting their lives back together.

We don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Let’s take a lesson from Santa Rosa.

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