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Readers React: Orange County’s homelessness plan unravels, but Gov. Brown might have the answer

A bicyclist rides past trash piles from the Santa Ana River homeless camp after it was cleared and more than 700 people relocated in Anaheim in February.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: After reading the California section of the Los Angeles Times today I experienced an epiphany.

Page B1 contained an article about the failure of California to provide homes for the homeless even though money had been allotted for that purpose, and page B2 contained an article quoting Gov. Jerry Brown eloquently defending the cost of his high-speed rail program. Obviously Brown’s plan is to reserve passage for the homeless on the trains out of the sight of any NIMBY liberals, paid for with travel vouchers drawn on the funds already allotted for the homeless. (“Billions of dollars to help California’s homeless population are piling up — and going unspent,” March 25)

When Brown criticized President Carter 30 years ago for advocating putting ballistic missiles on rails to protect them from Soviet attack little did we know that the rapid transit system for ballistic missiles would evolve into the high-speed rail system for the homeless.

Sidney Tinberg, Ventura

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To the editor: Re: Laguna Niguel Mayor Elaine Gennawey’s callous comment that she was “stunned” that the County contemplated sheltering homeless people near where “innocent children play,” calling it, “a public safety tragedy waiting to happen”:

Wake up, Ms. Gennawey. When did the homeless stop being “the public,” and since when did their safety become secondary to those who are fortunate enough to have permanent housing? The “public safety tragedy” is here, playing out daily in front of our eyes, and innocent children are living on the streets. Maybe if we allow our very blessed children to actually live close enough to witness their plight, they will grow up to live lives of compassionate action, and put to shame those whose consciences have fallen asleep.

Sheila Gilmore, Irvine

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To the editor: Lili Graham, director of litigation for the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, thinks it would be better to let the homeless return to the Santa Ana River bed. Of course everyone in Irvine, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Niguel would approve. After all, as Ms. Graham notes, “Someone in Laguna Niguel, Irvine, or Huntington Beach would never understand what some of these men and women go through.” Maybe it’s time they do.

Leslie Kato, Santa Ana

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To the editor: Build it and they will come. The more you subsidize homelessness, the more homeless there will be. If the price of a valuable product is zero, the demand will be infinite. You’re only seeing the beginning.

Whenever someone sets up a shelter on public property, they have privatized it for their own usage. The only way to limit the homeless problem is by requiring people to give something back for that privilege.

Boris DeWiel, Prince George, Canada

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