Mayor explains soup kitchen comments

Costa Mesa Mayor Eric Bever this week clarified earlier comments he made suggesting that two of the Westside's nonprofits close because they attract homeless people.

Bever said during Tuesday's council meeting that he only directed city CEO Tom Hatch to investigate, not try to shutter, the Someone Cares Soup Kitchen and Share Our Selves (SOS) for possibly violating municipal ordinances.

"That means he goes through a process of steps as outlined by our nuisance-business ordinance," Bever said. "And if, in fact, it turns out that there is a nuisance-business situation, then we prosecute and we look to resolve that situation."

Bever sought to shed light on his statement from the Oct. 2 council meeting, when he said, "My belief is that if we manage to put the soup kitchen out of business, that will go a long way toward addressing the attractive nuisance that we have in our city that's creating a huge negative impact, especially along the 19th Street corridor, not only for residents, but also for businesses."

In that meeting, Bever said the two Westside facilities are major sources that contribute to the city's homelessness problem. He then asked for the investigating and initiating of action toward "reining in the soup kitchen and SOS."

"The fallout from the soup kitchen and SOS tend to permeate several hundred acres of our city, not just one block of residential area," he said Oct. 2. "I think that, rather than trying to put Band-Aids on a bloody elbow, I think we really need to deal with the source of the problem."

Karen McGlinn, executive director of SOS, a health-care facility, said Bever's directive to investigate her facility on Superior Avenue would be wasteful of city time and resources. The 47-year Costa Mesa resident also referred to Bever being termed out of office.

"He needs to exit a very dismal showing as a City Council member with some kind of character," McGlinn said. "He should praise the agencies that are providing these safety-net services at such a critical time and walk out the door."

She added that Bever has never contacted her or made an appointment to visit her facility.

"He has never once stepped forward to find out what our agency does," she said.

Someone Cares could not be reached Thursday night.


'Good intentions'

Bever echoed his concerns Tuesday that he believes the facilities are burdensome for both residents and businesses.

"What is happening in our city is we have people who, with good intentions, are doing good deeds," he said. "They're helping people. And that's good. I think we all aspire to that."

But in the process of doing those good deeds, he said, "They're also harming the surrounding businesses, they're harming the surrounding residents, and they're driving down the neighborhood."

He mentioned a past survey of where public-safety dollars and resources were being spent. The areas around SOS and the soup kitchen used a "disproportionate amount," he said.

"Looking at the pin maps that we had, it was about six times more public-safety service dollars being spent through situations that were occurring in that particular neighborhood than any other neighborhood on a per-capita basis."

He added, "I don't know what your Bible says, but my Bible doesn't say, 'It's OK to do a good deed and screw over the other guy because you're doing a good deed.' I don't think that's right, and that's why I've asked the CEO to look over this."

Twitter: @bradleyzint

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