Tuesday night, more than 130 people packed the Chico City Council chambers to take part in a brainstorming session. Law enforcement, homeless advocates, and concerned business owners and citizens wanted to hear what people had to say about Chico's Clean and Safe Program. As the meeting got underway, homeless advocates presented ideas to the council which included adding a plan to help people give donations through organizations, hiring a goodwill ambassador, and having street pastors roam the streets, offering the homeless a listening ear. They also suggested setting up a shelter for homeless people who would be turned away by the Jesus Center because they were drunk or on drugs. They suggested this shelter should have few barriers and put transients in touch with service providers.
Law enforcement officials told council members the Chico Police Department needed more officers, and they said they hope the council will make that happen by December 31, 2013.
Chico Police Chief Kirk Trostle made some homeless advocates happy with remarks that it was a "constitutional conflict" to cite transients for sleeping in the streets when others are doing the same.
The meeting became heated when Mayor Mary Goloff said citizens would only have one minute to voice their opinions. There were more than 20 people who put their name on the list to speak. Some left the meeting without speaking, and most went over their designated minute. One local college student said he grew up in Chico and has never felt threatened by the transient population, but he's been assaulted by drunk college students looking to pick a fight. He says that's where the council needs to focus it's attention, and blaming the homeless population is misguided.
This is the first of many meetings on the subject. Stay with Action News for information on the next public meeting...