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Letters to the Editor:

Ultimately civilized society must be judged by how it treats its poorest and most vulnerable people. Santa Monica’s recent homeless survey focused on 277 homeless people sleeping in public on the street with no support of any kind. Instead of giving immediate aid to these desperately ill people the surveyors gave them a $5 hamburger coupon. For three days the surveyors scrutinized the minutiae of homeless suffering. They promised to get back with help at some undefined time. To me this survey represents basically a public display of concern with no immediate plan to deal with the catastrophe that sleeping on the street really is! The City as well as LA County’s approach for the last 10 years has been to focus on permanent housing for less than 10 percent and ignore the rest!

I have a solid plan that does address the lack of shelter beds for the homeless that exists today. Organized Overnight Camping with Caseworker Support will do just that. Until permanent housing becomes a reality society can afford and accomplish why not organize the unhealthful sprawl of human beings who sleep in shameful neglect on hostile streets every night and connect them with caseworker support? How can society condone this neglect year after year?

Just to set the record straight, I see my concept as a way for LA County and its homeless agencies to oversee and fund this program. I do not want or need to have money. I will be no more than a consultant in any of this. If successful, this program would be managed by all the caseworker agencies involved as well as the County Sheriffs and County mental health services, etc.

These modules are for homeless support and I intend to ensure their humane use. I have publicly declared I give up all royalties of my module patent for homeless use for the full term of the patent’s enforcement. Civil defense emergencies need equipment that is less bulky, heavy, hard to transport, and too large to store. This concept is best used for the purpose I intended, which is to provide safe basic support for the homeless overnight.

It’s a shame that these government and nonprofit homeless support agencies have basically only one plan – permanent housing. The failure of the County to protect 57,000 or 83 percent of the county’s 73,000 homeless at night is sad proof of our collective moral deficit. I have a plan that faces up to this sad situation with an immediate alternative that links the homeless to caseworker management and helps to clean up both our public places and our claim to be civilized. Existing agencies will be able to expand effective support and transition many more people off the street, everybody wins. Santa Monica can at least stop ignoring the concept and endorse its potential as a countywide program.

Every new concept is before its time but Organized Overnight Camping with Caseworker Support is not before its need. Where there is a will there is a way.

Randy Walburger

Santa Monica

* * * *

I sense that the Santa Monica City Council would truly like to save the trees on 2nd and 4th Streets, but are genuinely worried that they may be hazardous. A legitimate concern. I suspect that’s why the city brought in independent arborist Cyd Carlberg to inspect the 23 trees slated for destruction. She spoke at last week’s Council meeting, which I attended. When I got home, I looked at her report to see what her findings were. (They were posted on the SM City site on February 14, 2008.)

To say my jaw dropped is a gross understatement! Ms. Carlberg conducted a study of each of the 23 trees slated to be destroyed, and rated each tree individually on a chart. First, she rated each according to its “Physiological Condition,” which is overall health. EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE 23 TREES SCORED “4-5” FOR OVERALL HEALTH, WHICH IS THE HIGHEST, THUS BEST, RATING.

She then rated each according to its “Failure Potential,” which is a measure of its overall structural condition. Only three trees rated a “high.” THIRTEEN TREES RATED A LOW FOR FAILURE POTENTIAL, WHICH IS THE LOWEST, THUS BEST, RATING.

Should any trees be removed at all? I certainly don’t think so. And on page 10 of Ms. Carlberg’s report, she even states that the 23 ficus trees could remain in place and the risks could be minimized “by vigilant hardscape replacement or repair and canopy pruning performed annually.”

So, as you can see, we Treesavers are not merely impassioned protesters who are willing to turn a blind eye to hazards. We are in fact people who are seeing these kinds of findings over and over and asking “Why? WHY?”

Please review these findings for yourself! You can access this information by Googling “City of Santa Monica Official Homepage,” and then searching for: Walt Warriner AND independent arborist. A document will come up entitled “2nd and 4th Street Chronology.” It’s a long document. Go to page 10, and you’ll see Ms. Carlberg’s chart.

I still have faith that City Council will do the right thing, and avert the Santa Monica Chainsaw Massacre. It’s not too late.

Thank you,

Andrea Drever

Associate Creative Director, RPA

Santa Monica

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