We don’t know the answers to solving the growing issue of homeless. But it doesn’t seem trying to lay it on local charities and churches is a solution.
That’s just what a newly-elected Brookings City Council did last Tuesday in a hand-washing performance that was disappointing at best.
They were asked to create a task force. Instead they instructed Father Bernie Lindley of St. Timothy Episcopal Church to return and “overwhelm the city with ideas” at some unspecified future workshop to be held on some unspecified date.
This utter failure to act from a city leadership that just dodged the proverbial bullet for weeks outside the library.
Make no mistake, the homeless encampment in the library parking lot was a dangerous situation. From the obvious health issues to the almost nightly harassment of the homeless — some with serious mental health issues — by hooligans and vigilantes trying to incite.
It was a situation defused without someone getting hurt only through the diligence of Brookings police and an overwhelmed library staff, who worked hard to come up with some new legal and enforceable rules.
Homelessness is not just a Brookings problem. Or an Oregon problem. It is a nationwide issue complicated now by the 9th Circuit Court’s recent ruling banning police from arresting someone for sleeping on public property.
Since that federal court ruling, the situation at Brookings library is being played out in communities across the country.
The federal court ruling caught everyone by surprise but it didn’t bring more homeless to Brookings. They have always been here, living in their cars or makeshift encampments in the woods. Out of sight and out of mind.
It’s been two months since that court decision, now law of the land. It’s time for some local leadership.
A first step here might be following the example of Brookings library staff. City and county leaders — the folks we elected to make such decisions — need to get with their respective legal advisers, determine what can and can’t be done and set some rules.
Trying to pass responsibility isn’t leadership. Actions are.
Editorials are the opinion of the Curry Coastal Pilot Editorial Board, which consists of Publisher Kim Fowler, Editor-in-Chief Robin Fornoff and Features Editor Bill Schlichting.