Mailbag: Newport Beach and its residents should do more to help the homeless

A homeless man sleeps with his belongings in bags next to him at the Newport Pier in February 2019.
A homeless man sleeps with his belongings packed in bags next to him at the Newport Pier in February 2019. A Daily Pilot reader says not enough is being done to help homeless people.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

Why, oh why do churches collect food but do hardly anything to house the homeless? I have called churches, and they give me a lot of excuses like they cannot be sure a homeless person is stable. Maybe they could donate money for a hotel room. But if a homeless person is stable, why if there is an unused room wouldn’t they take someone in for a certain time?

A church has hundreds or thousands of members, and it seems they aren’t willing to be Christians and take care of the homeless. Newport Beach has no shelter and yet has a lot of millionaires who are not willing to help the homeless. I read all the “solutions” and am horrified at what is not done.

Darlene Letnes
Newport Beach

Rouda withstands attacks

In an apparent effort to confuse voters, Republicans persist in trying to paint Congressman Rep. Harley Rouda as an extremist, but it won’t stick.

Rouda’s commitment to bipartisanship earned him the Abraham Lincoln Leadership for America Award from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In presenting the award the Chamber President Suzanne Clark said, “Now more than ever our nation needs elected leaders with the courage to pursue common ground and bold, bipartisan solutions to America’s greatest challenges.” These awards, she said, “honor the deserving members of Congress that are forging common-sense solutions, working across the aisle, to enact meaningful reforms.”

Regarding Rouda’s voting record the best comparison is with the nearest Republican, Rep. Ken Calvert (CA-42, Corona). According to ProPublica, Rouda and Calvert have voted the same 42% of the time. Far from being a “radical,” our congressman is the finest example of a principled, hard-working public servant who reflects the hopes and values of his constituents.

Bob Taylor
Newport Beach

Trying to be neighborly

I recently took a little foray into Nextdoor out of curiosity. I had heard some interesting things about the app and wanted to see if they were true. There are many different parts to the app, and I am sure that some of them are very helpful and positive. People in a neighborhood should be friendly and helpful to each other, which is probably the case most often on Nextdoor for Newport Beach.

But do not go into the general conversation room where politics are discussed because if you are not of the same opinion, watch out. It is an opportunity for people to fully vent without concern for etiquette or personal feelings, and it is also an opportunity to offer up some personal retribution as I soon discovered.

Pity for the faint of heart for those who do not agree with the majority of people in the conversation area at that time. I would like to think that this was uncharacteristic behavior but I could only stand the abuse for 24 hours after my initial introduction was made in the form of a positive statement about Newport Beach City Councilman Jeff Herdman, who is running for reelection. Also, big mistake in mentioning the two political get-togethers that were being advertised that day regarding candidate Noah Blom or in offering an opinion on them. You would be, as I was, the focus of invective launched from many angles. So much for courtesy and polite introductions.

In all fairness, I must say that there were a few people who made positive comments, and I thank them for their courage; but the majority were unfriendly, and sarcastic. To those people who feel compelled to entertain the type of discussions that I encountered on Nextdoor that day, I would like to suggest a reading assignment. It is a play by Jean Paul Sartre called “Huis Clos” (“No Exit” in English).

I am curious to see if you identify with the theme or intent of Sartre. Fortunately for me, there was an exit out of Nextdoor, but I couldn’t get away fast enough as I fumbled with the app.

Lynn Lorenz
Newport Beach

Thoughts on the anti-mask mob

The ongoing mask conflict is still underway here in Orange County, specifically the city of Huntington Beach, and even more to the point, Basilico’s Pasta e Vino restaurant on Brookhurst Street. Basilico’s owner, Tony Roman, says that the state shutdown was unjustified and un-American, and to further illustrate his stand on a mask-free restaurant he has placed a sign on his property reading, “Leave the mask, take the cannoli.” This clever aphorism is of course derived from a still popular line in the “Godfather” movie of “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

Maybe Roman has a point as he claims that no one working in his restaurant nor any of his customers have ever been diagnosed with COVID-19. He could be very lucky, or perhaps he is not aware of any sickness that originated in his restaurant. The wearing of masks I admit is a pain, makes it hard to breathe and is just downright uncomfortable. A mask, however, has been scientifically proven to thwart the dreaded coronavirus over and over again.

It appears that despite the science behind this horrendous sickness, this restaurant owner is sticking to his guns and will stay mask-free even though people have died and are still dying. Keeping in line with lines from the “Godfather” series, perhaps this restaurant owner might employ another relevant movie line of “Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” In this case the enemies could very well turn out to be stubbornness, bullheadedness and inflexibility.

Bill Spitalnick
Newport Beach

Contributions raise questions

Fundraising for a city council election reveals critical information about the candidate’s supporters. Unfortunately, fundraising is a requirement of the job, and it’s necessary in order to get your message out to the public, especially to those who are not directly involved in city issues. Most citizens don’t contribute the allowed $1,200 maximum per candidate, but those with a business interest frequently do.

Most of Noah Blom’s contributions are from out-of-town donors and/or those with ties to short-term rentals (his website lists an endorsement from “Newport Beach Short-Term Rentals Assn.”). I don’t see many small contributions from individual citizens, contrasting with Jeff Herdman’s list. (See the Newport Beach City Council website for complete lists of donors.)

Are Mr. Blom’s donors hoping the new council majority will overturn the recent short-term lodging ordinance, which caps our number at 1,550? Jeff Herdman’s opponent has said he thinks we should have them all over town, allowing unlimited short-term rentals in every neighborhood in our city. Staff estimate that number could be as high as 10,000 units in Newport Beach if left unregulated. There is a difference between individual homeowners renting their property versus corporate interests. Perhaps we should change the city seal to say “Hotel Newport Beach.”

Why are three of my council colleagues endorsing an unknown candidate who has never shown any interest in local issues, has never attended a city council meeting or served on a board or commission or even a homeowners association?

If the three members who endorse Mr. Blom get their way, the four will have a majority vote. Furthermore, if Diane Dixon wins her race for an assembly seat, that majority bloc could appoint someone to fill her seat, giving them a super-majority. Will this appointed council member represent the interests of the bloc that appointed him or her rather than the interests of the city and District 1, Lido and the Peninsula specifically? And will this super-majority gut the short-term lodging ordinance?

At that point it would not matter what the citizens of Newport Beach think, because the majority on the council would have the votes to do anything they want. I like all my colleagues as people but not as politicians. And I’m so disappointed that they have taken this endorsement action. They underestimate the ability of our citizens to see through it.

Joy Brenner
Newport Beach City Council

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