The experience of the homeless in Felton
by Joe Shreve
Oct 24, 2013 | 4705 views | 65 65 comments | 719 719 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jeffrey Scofield, Rob Ropes, Jonney Hughes, and Linda Miller discuss their experiences living homeless in Felton. Joe Shreve/Press-Banner
Jeffrey Scofield, Rob Ropes, Jonney Hughes, and Linda Miller discuss their experiences living homeless in Felton. Joe Shreve/Press-Banner
slideshow
The topic of homelessness in Felton is not exactly a new one, but in the past several months, it has become something of a hot topic as local community groups and organizations have made a priority of addressing the environmental and societal concerns associated with homelessness and homeless encampments.

In the wake of some extensive coverage of the efforts of the political and community organizations, a group of homeless agreed to meet with the Press-Banner on Tuesday, Oct. 8 to share their own experiences of being homeless in Felton.

“I never dreamed I’d be homeless,” said Jonney Hughes, a woman in her early fifties who described herself as being retired and on disability. “There’s all kinds of reasons people are out here.”

Hughes said that she found herself without a home in 2003, when she was suddenly widowed.

For the next five years, she said, she camped in many different places in the Santa Cruz Mountains and found herself accepted into what she described as a tight-knit family of fellow homeless people.

“They took care of me,” Hughes said. “You just don’t have any of the things you need to have, so everybody looks out for everybody.”

Hughes said that while she has lived in a fifth-wheel camper since 2008, she still maintains regular ties with her homeless friends.

“I still come here every day,” she said. “I love these people.”

Linda Miller, 54, originally hails from Virginia, but has lived in the Felton area for the past 9 years, living with her boyfriend, Rob Ropes, in his recreational vehicle — parking it wherever he can find a safe place.

Miller, a retired nursing assistant, said that she is currently on disability and found herself homeless 20 years ago in the wake of a messy divorce.

David Paul, an unemployed woodworker, has camped in the Felton wilderness since early August. He said he had been living with his brother — who has a home in the area — for several months after moving from Colorado in search of work.

While he has not been homeless in the area as long as the others, it is not his first time being homeless, either.

“I’ve done it before in Colorado,” he said. “I’ve gone through this before.”

 

‘One of these days, they could be right where we’re at.’

All of the homeless people interviewed said that they are all too aware of the spotlight cast on them, and negative reputation associated with them, in recent months.

Many said that they feel as though they are being unfairly assigned blame for issues raised by the community — such as littering, drug abuse, and aggressive panhandling.

Often, they said, issues arise when mentally ill people from local treatment facilities are mistaken for homeless people, or new — often younger — homeless people come to the area and do not understand the rules followed by the established homeless community.

“We try to police our own people,” Hughes said. “You’ve got a lot more younger (homeless), and it’s up to the older ones to teach the younger ones.”

Ropes said that most of the homeless in the area are just trying to eke out a living, and described the idea of drug abuse as “ludicrous.”

Ari Stines, a younger homeless man agreed.

“Most of the people who can afford drugs are in downtown (Santa Cruz),” he said.

Hughes said that, as far as littering goes, recycling is often the primary source of income for homeless people, and they “recycle everything they can get a hold of.”

Ropes, who has to frequently move his recreational vehicle due to lack of a legal place to park it, said he is often harassed — even when the RV was parked at an auto shop with a work order invoice attached to it.

“We don’t do drugs, we don’t panhandle, and we don’t beg,” Ropes said. “All I want to do is be left alone.”

While Paul acknowledged that a few bad apples occasionally appear, he said that most homeless people are just trying to make the most of a bad situation and the spotlight falls on the homeless because “you’re so much in the open here.”

“The people that are willing to help themselves aren’t the problem,” Paul said. “(The ones that aren’t), they just get to a point where they just go underground.”

Miller said that she was often upset by what she sees as a lack of communication and understanding between the homeless and the community.

“It really upsets me,” she said. “One of these days, they could be right where we’re at.”

 

‘I wish we could find a place’

 

The reality of the situation in Felton, Hughes said, is that with crackdowns on camping on private property, such as the closure of the Felton Meadow property by Mount Hermon, have concentrated the homeless into a few places.

“The bottom line is, where do they want the homeless to go?” she said.

Paul, who is a member of the Felton Reboot group working to clean up downtown Felton, said that he and other homeless were trying to get involved in dialogue with community members.

“Some of us are trying to do some outreach,” he said. “We’re trying to put our best foot forward.”

He said that the homeless needed to acknowledge the community’s concerns as much as vice versa.

“They have valid concerns,” Paul said. “You can’t discount people — otherwise, it’s just a wall between us.”

Ropes said that he, and others, have paid rent to down-on-their-luck homeowners who are willing to let homeless camp on their property, but that always comes with the fear of bringing a red tag down from the county.

“I paid $10,000 for this RV,” he said. “I have some money; I’d be happy to pay rent.”

Hughes, who herself lives in a fifth-wheel trailer, said that one day, she’d like to see a place set aside for homeless people to camp, and not put homeowners at risk by renting to homeless.

“We’re worried we’re going to get (the homeowners) in trouble,” Hughes said. “I wish I could find a place where homeless could go.”

- To comment, email reporter Joe Shreve at joe@pressbanner.com, call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.

Comments
(65)
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LGMark
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November 07, 2013
"homeless" people are the bums of today. In the 20's through 50's they were called bums and then went on to be called Hippies in the 60's and honeless in the 70's and beyond. they live this way due to it being a viable way of living. If this stop, they will have to get a job which they don't with for any responsibilities. I have dealt with "homeless" people for over 20 years and they are just as the article says , "We want to be left alone" and not participate in the economy of the ares but just live off what they can find.
Anne R.
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November 07, 2013
Now that is just plain ignorant. Most homeless people have had productive careers and owned businesses. In Felton, we have a finish carpenter, a tile setter, a nursing assistant, at least two professional chefs, veterans and former business owners who are all homeless, just to name a few. Most of those who were homeless before have resumed productive careers. Few stay homeless for long. They are generally the ones dealing with chronic alcoholism, drug addiction or mental health issues. Only very few in Felton would be classified as bums. I can only think of one who seems to be staying here. There was a group of a few who came through a few months ago, but they moved on. Most bums tend to also be transient, so don't stay around too long, and also tend to migrate to larger cities like Santa Cruz and San Jose, where they have more to gain from charity. Homelessness is not exactly a comfortable lifestyle.
Stephanie Culligan
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November 09, 2013
Any time someone says "_____ people are_____" it is usually a generalization steeped in ignorance.

It could be said that all "housed people are rich", or hypocrites, or callous, or gluttons, or lazy, or sissies, or whatever... obviously sometimes it is true but not always.

Homeless people have no legal address of their own, and that is all the term "homeless" means. I agree that some live this life by choice, but certainly not all, and to assume that every person who does not have a place to call home has the same personality and made the same choices is a very unintelligent assumption to make.
Anne R.
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November 06, 2013
That crazy lady who screams at anyone smoking on the deck is the main reason I don't meet friends there for tea. I don't think she is homeless. Those kids who sell and smoke pot live with their parents on Gushee and Plateau Streets. They are not homeless. It would be great if people did not smoke pot or tobacco on the deck, or scream at people, but these problems should not be blamed exclusively on the homeless.
Radny Carson
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November 06, 2013
"meet friends there for tea"???!!! Now THAT'S funny.
John T.
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November 06, 2013
What is so funny about that?
Anne R.
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November 06, 2013
Great article! Interresting topic! Great perspective! What is all this hate for the homeless? It is great to clean up litter, but people in homes create much bigger carbon footprints. Don't drive cars or blow driveways. Don't build homes of lumber or cover roofs with tar. Don't water, mow or fertilize your lawns. Don't use laundry detergent or soap. Don't chlorinate you pool or flush toilets. Don't dump sofas and household junk on the side of the road.
Paul Makahala
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November 04, 2013
A lot of problems in this world would disappear if we talk to each other instead of about each other.

It's interesting that the biggest purveyors of hate are the people pretending to post for the homeless here and/or Tony Tomeo.

It would have also been helpful if the PB had titled this article differently. This is hardly "the experience of the homeless", rather a narrow perspective of a group who may have portrayed themselves a certain way to a gullible reporter.

I request that the Press Banner now interview shop owners in downtown Felton for THEIR perspective about these same people...or if that is too painful, then to the general criminal transient population in Felton.

But we can hardly begin talking to each other around any kind of consensus until the BS stops.

C N.
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November 05, 2013
I don't get it. I think I read through what Tony said, but can't find anything hateful. Who is pretending to post for the homeless? Why would anyone pretend to post for the homeless? If you think that those interviewed provided inaccurate information from a narrow perspective, maybe you should talk to them instead of about them like you suggested. Many of us know Rob, Linda and Jonny ("these same people"), but don't have a problem with them. Few even know they are homeless. Why would they be any different than homed people? As far as interviewing general criminals or transients, well, that would be a whole different story about different people.
Michael H.
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November 05, 2013
OK. Now I am really wondering . . . are you just pretending to post for Paul Makahala?
Eyes of the World
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November 03, 2013
Someone brought up hazing of campers...Did anyone else who is local think that rv fire on Roaring Camp road this last summer was arson? That guy had his windows smashed on successive nights and his motorcycle thrown in the bushes on the side of the road as well it appeared. In years of living in the same neighborhood with that guy, I'm not aware of any problems with him...What's also interesting about Mount Hermon's kicking the homeless out of the field (which will soon be a big amusement park!) is that they also parked their company vehicles in the turnouts on Roaring Camp Rd to try to get the homeless to not camp there either. I understand the motivation, but those actions seem a bit incongruous with Jesus' message. Agreed, this is a tough issue. Let's hope folks can take the high road as they address it, rather than slink into the dark depths of vigilantism.
Lea Russell
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November 03, 2013
I am grateful that Mount Hermon cleaned that field, both from a fire hazard perspective and a drug abuse perspective. They found a meth lab in that meadow which was thankfully torn down.

I am leery of "kicking the homeless out" of any location. But I have no problem hearing that meth labs, drug dealers, and other criminals are firmly booted out of town.
Tony Tomeo
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November 03, 2013
There were actually two campers. The larger camper that had been in the neighborhood for quite a while had been vandalized on several occasions, which only made it more unsightly. The motorcycle associated with this camper had been vandalized almost as frequently, and was pushed into roadside brambles at least twice. Tools were also stolen. Both the camper and the motorcycle are now gone, but did not burn. The man who lived in the camper will likely be living in an apartment soon. The other smaller camper had not been in town very long when it was burned. Ironically, both this camper and a tent under the Graham Hill Road Bridge over the San Lorenzo River were burned by arson at a time when the community was expresing concern about homeless people causing forest fires. Neither of these two campers were on Mount Hermon property. Mount Hermon needed to evict other homeless people from their property because of the associated liability, and conformity to insurance specifications. The homeless were notified in a very tactful and compassionate manner and given adequate time to vacate. Unfortunately though, any drug problems were not eliminated, but merely relocated. Also, the homeless are still homeless. Any fire hazard associated with homeless encampments is actually worse now because the encampments are farther from town, in less accessible but more combustible areas.
Stephanie Culligan
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November 01, 2013
Let's remember to differentiate between homeless and criminal. One does not necessarily imply the other.

I have issue with the criminal behavior that is usually due to drug use: aggressive panhandling, theft, campsites littered with human waste and drug refuse, and the public intoxication that has resulted in many of us feeling uncomfortable using our parks and going through Felton Faire.

Some of the people exhibiting these behaviors are homeless and some are housed.

Some of the people trying to be part of the solution are homeless and some are housed.

It's true that there is a higher incidence of drug use and addiction, and thus crime amongst our community's homeless members, but as the article attempts to point out- that's not the case for every homeless person.
Lea Russell
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November 03, 2013
@Stephanie, I so agree! Homeless, to me, implies unfortunate circumstances. Drug dealers and thieves are clearly criminals. Yes, let's differentiate.
Tony Tomeo
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November 03, 2013
Thank you two so much for saying so! I have been avoiding this place because of all the unpleasant comments, but I was told about what you said. This article is not about all the unpleasantries that have been discussed almost exclusively in the comments below, but is instead about PEOPLE who are homeless.
Bill Ligus
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November 01, 2013
Kristi,

You said, “Do you know her street name was given to her by someone else on the street? Most likely not because this is a FACT she shared with me when I SPOKE WITH HER.

Linda said, “Angel is a nickname, not a street name. The nickname came from 'The Retirement' center when I worked in Virginia.”

You said, “The sand box was removed by Parks & Recreation according to Clyde, who actually works for that organization. Again, facts overrule your perception.”

C. N. said, “The Santa Cruz County Parks Department knows nothing about the removal of the sandbox in Covered Bridge Park.”

You said in the Bring Back Felton Facebook group, “A majority of those posed in this photo are alcoholics. How do I know? When you talk with them, they have the DT shakes.”

Linda said, “I do not drink, and Rob is not an alcoholic.”

Also, Jonny said, “You have never met me or have I ever spoke to you.”

Linda, Rob and Jonny are three of the people in the photo.

You said, “My group, Felton Reboot, is trying to keep the town clean. Meaning we clean camps that have been asked to move from the sheriff and have been given ample time to do so in accordance with specific penal codes.”

Michael said, “The group that came onto my property to remove litter was trespassing.”

Also, you and your group tried to forcibly evict a homeless woman from under the Graham Hill Road Bridge over the San Lorenzo River only two days after she had been warned that she had fourteen days to vacate. Not only is this not in accordance with penal codes, but it also involves theft of her personal belongings, vandalism of her campsite, and harassment.

Also, you posted the telephone number for Anthony's case worker on the Bring Back Felton Facebook group so that members of the group could telephone to harass the case worker about Anthony's behavior. This is a violation of HIPAA laws.

Also, what you said about Linda, Rob and Jonny is libel.

You said, “and by the way - this "gossip" that you say this information is... well, most of it comes from your Bring Back Felton postings.”

However, you have produced almost all of the gossip, at least here.

The oddest thing you said was, “There is no trash talk whatsoever. Only truth.”
Jonny Hughes
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October 31, 2013
Kristi

I'm (another) one of the people in the picture. You have never met me or have I ever spoke to you. I do not like what you're doing or saying. Your' getting close to getting into trouble. You can not slander people the way you're doing.

We are homeless, not stupid, never talk down to any one of us.
Linda (or Angel)
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October 31, 2013
Attn: Mrs. Fitzpatrick,

To slander someone you don't even know is just wrong.

Since you have published these lies about me on line, that is libel for which you can be sued without me having to prove a loss. So I urge you to retract these lies, with an apology, or contact an attorney.

I do not drink, and Rob is not an alcoholic, Angel is a nickname, not a street name. The nickname came from 'The Retirement' center when I worked in Virginia. Remember that good character comes from grace, truthfulness, and integrity. Perhaps you should work on these assetts, and set your hate and bigotry aside.
Felton Mama
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October 30, 2013
There is a disconnect in the conversation about the homeless in Felton and Santa Cruz. Unfortunately the people who talk about the increasingly dangerous transients who have arrived are labeled anti-homeless. That label couldn't be further from the truth.

For years the homeless in Felton were a relatively small group of known people. That has changed dramatically since 2011. Not 2008 with the economic crash, but 2011 with prison realignment.

Now we have drug and alcohol use right out in the open in downtown areas and property theft in most of our neighborhoods with only limited help from the sheriff department. This is not a dig at our dedicated Felton sheriff staff, it's a stark commentary about the County Sheriff department's unfortunate allocation of resources. 2 or 3 deputies for the entire San Lorenzo Valley? That's about 30 too few.

This week a severely mentally disturbed transient ran into the middle of Highway 9 waving his arms and creating a dangerous situation for drivers and pedestrians alike. This is not a rare incident by the way.

Public defecation frequently right in the entrances to storefronts is becoming the norm. Volunteer clean up crews have sprung up, but they can't keep up with the trash, drug paraphernalia and liquor bottles.

If you think there is not cause for alarm or if all you can contribute is to call this concern "hate" then you are part of the problem.
Another Felton Mama
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October 30, 2013
Felton Mama -

I saw that guy in the middle of the road. Scary. Have you driven along Highway 9 just as the sun sets? A lot of homeless walking back to their camps and it is so very hard to see them until you are right there next to them. It is so dangerous and I feel badly that this is their routine.

I am part of the Bring Back Felton Facebook page and I read some of the postings by Tony Timeo. He had stated that he stopped taking the trash from the homeless a few months (or more) ago. I do know that the other team has been picking up what he used to take as the garbage is left in the open for the raccoons and other animals of the forest. Some of that trash, in fact, contained medical waste.

I believe that what Timeo is doing is to further enable the homeless in our community. Tish states that he totes them all over for their appointments, regardless of their bad behavior. That is a reward for acting naughty.

The hard truth is that this there are not enough beds for the roughly 3K homeless (last count - you know that is not accurate). Take into account those who do not want to find a home and prefer to live in their tents, those who need mental health help, those grappling with addiction, etc. etc. etc. It goes on and on.

Now, what are we, as a town, to do to change the behavior of those who disrespect all that we've worked hard to establish? I'm stumped.
Jeffrey Scofield
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October 30, 2013
Another Felton Mama, Tony did not actually stop taking out the trash, but just stopped picking up trash for someone who found a home. It was only a temporary thing for that guy anyway, since his brother usually took the trash, but couldn't for a while. There should be no interruption of service.

Tony does not enable bad behavior so much as he promotes good behavior. He helps homeless people get to jobs and to see doctors. He helped someone with laundry today, and then took someone else to a doctor. Tomorrow, he will help someone get new identification and a new bank account. Tony is the one who stayed with me to keep me in the hospital for maybe a week and a half when I had my brain injury and was acting crazy and trying to leave. I mentioned that here somewhere. Other people can tell you more. We are a small community, so know all about it. What he won't do is take an aggressive panhandler and her dog to Ben Lomond Market when things dry up here.
David Thursday
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October 31, 2013
There are currently 165 sworn deputies serving a population of 135,000 residents and 115 correctional officers supervising 600 inmates incarcerated in four detention facilities in Santa Cruz County.

The cities of Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Watsonville and Capitola have their own fully staffed police forces.

Why are there only 2 deputies for the entire San Lorenzo Valley with population 30,000???!!!!
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 30, 2013
Tisha - I have zero idea who you are. There is no trash talk whatsoever. Only truth.

Sorry it is uncomfortable and if you do not want to speak to "my kind" (whatever that means), is fine. I will still be at the park, downtown and Felton Faire making sure things are kept safe and clean.

Thanks,

Kristi
Tisha L.
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October 30, 2013
Shame Shame Shame!

I come here wanting to read this good news about the homeless only to see all these hateful things people have been saying.

Kristi, Who do you think you are?! You come here all nice and pretty with your nice gifts and all like you want to help us when all along you were just getting the information you need to stab us in the back. Now you take what we say out of context and share information that some shared with you in confidence. You lie! Yeah, I heard what you said about Linda, who doesn't even drink. Shame on you! You should be trying to cooperate, but now none of us want to talk to you or your kind. Just stay away from us! You break laws like it is ok because you are helping the community. You harass, you vandalize, you trespass on the same properties you don't want us trespassing on. You, Rhonda and Dawn then go on to trash talk Tony. Shame on you! He has been helping homeless for years with food and sometimes even work. He takes us to Santa Cruz to get assistance while we are in a bad situation. He takes us to doctors, and stays with us when we are in the hospital. We already know that he doesn't like what some of us do, and that he actually dislikes a few of us, but he does it anyway. Then there's what he does for Felton, taking away truckloads of trash from the deck to bury at his own home, even while shop owners treated him like trash. He donated truckloads of plants to other towns like Scott's Valley, Los Gatos and Santa Clara and more that I can't remember. He grew and planted hundreds of trees in medians and along curbs in Los Angeles, just because a friend there asked him to. So you go on and brag about picking up litter and knowing who to blame for it. So Rhonda, you can just keep talking. Just like you said, your kind don't shut up like I can when I leave here and forget all about ever trying to cooperate with what you are up to.
Tisha L.
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October 30, 2013
Sorry Dawn. I though I saw your name in the mix.
Chris Cross
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October 30, 2013
But seriously, I don't see any trash talking at all. There are very real problems with some segments of the homeless population in Felton. When those problems are about drugs, alcohol, and mental illness then it is time to take action.

I do have a problem with rousting out camps that are along the river. That could be someone's home, and I do agree that respect is due.

But as soon as behavior turns violent, drunken or methed out, or when trash and poop are put out there in the open, then I would have to say I agree with all those comments.
Spell check
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October 30, 2013
The last time I checked, it is not trespassing if you have authorization from the sheriff and property owners.

Get your facts straight.
Chris Brown
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October 30, 2013
don't let the door hit you! there is no excuse for the attack on our environment that belongs to all LIVING creatures, not just some who have checked out and trash it! Talk about trees, go down and see all the beer bottles, needles, tents, and debris growing into the trees! I am proud of all the work that Kristi and others are doing up in SLV! Others can just stay home and deny! Just stay out of way.
Michael H.
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October 31, 2013
Spell Check,

The group that came onto my property to remove litter was trespassing. I would have given them permission if they had asked for it. They are all high and mighty when they brag about doing a good deed, but they can not abide by simple common sense laws.
chris brown
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November 02, 2013
allowing your property to be littered and polluted that extends onto others land or waterways is against the law and can be red tagged
Michael H.
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November 03, 2013
Yeah, so. The few bottles left by some neighborhod high school kids won't get my property red tagged. Who are you to say that my property was littered or poluted? What does that have to do with trespassing?
Michael H.
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November 03, 2013
If you think my property is littered or polluted, you can talk to me about it, and probably go clean it up if I don't get to it first.
Davros Winter
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October 29, 2013
No matter how anybody tries to frame it, it is not ever OK to steal. This is one of the biggest problems in the San Lorenzo Valley. Theft by transients, who are not so transient these days.

SANTA CRUZ- Police arrested A 52-year-old man this morning after receiving reports that he was walking through a parking lot of a motel attempting to open car doors.

The caller told officers he saw Jeffrey Scofield try his car door and he confronted him. An argument ensued. Officers arrived at the Ocean Street motel and took Scofield into custody on suspicion of vehicle tampering.

http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/ci_20549690
Jeffrey Scofield
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October 29, 2013
I was born and raised in Felton, and grew up on Cooper Street, so I am not a transient. About a year and a half ago, I was hospitalized with severe brain injury and skull fracture, and was almost in a coma. After a few days, I was awake, but not coherent. While I was not being watched, I left Dominican Hospital and went missing for several days. My friends were very worried and could not find me, until I was arrested and then hospitalized again. I was severely dehydrated and had not eaten in a long time. I almost did not survive. I have no idea what happened during the several days that I wandered around Santa Cruz, and do not remember much more about what happened during the few weeks afterward. A friend stayed with me full time for about a week and a half to make sure I did not leave the hospital until I was ready. As far as I know, I did not steal anything. I honestly can not say what I wanted in the car, but probably just wanted to lay down. I still suffer from my injuries. I have lost the sense of smell and taste. I used to be very athletic and played baseball regularly, but now have difficulty just running. Problems with mobility have made it difficult to find work. Doe this make you happy?
Chris Cross
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October 30, 2013
No, it's very sad. I wish you the best and hope you are on the road to healing in all respects.

It's also very sad for the people who have had stuff stolen out of their cars. I can imagine what that poor man must have felt like when he saw someone trying to get into his car.
Gary H.
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October 30, 2013


Are you the same guy who was to wasted to care for himself last week and had to have the paramedics, fire trucks and sheriff tend to you?

Hope you have good insurance!

I, too, suffered severe head trauma 20 years ago. Brain hemmoraging, loss of hearig and balance. Big chunk of memory missing, too. Does this give me the ok to break into people's cars? If so, I have missed out on a lot of big scores.
Jeffrey Scofield
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October 30, 2013
Nope, that wasn't me. My insurance is none of your business. I wouldn't know about breaking into cars, since I don't do it. Even when I was incoherent and probably trying to find someplace to get out of the weather, there was never any indication that I got into a car. But none of that matters, since you have already made up your mind about me. Chris, fortunately, the guy who found me did not seem to be too upset about what happened. He used to check in on me on his way home from work while I was in the hospital.
Rhonda Kesler
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October 28, 2013
Tony and Robert are either intentionally or unintentionally twisting words here. There is not complaint that I have heard about unfortunate people who are currently without homes. Quite the opposite actually, many of us are very concerned about their safety and warmth through the winter months.

What IS unacceptable is the transients who scream and attack shoppers at Felton Fair and Quik Stop, who are drunk or methed out in public, who smoke pot or cigarettes in no-smoking areas.

So, please. Keep the story straight.

Good post Kristi.
Tony Tomeo
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October 28, 2013
That is exactly the point. "Keep the story straight." This is about the homeless in Felton. That is all. It is not about "the transients who scream and attack shoppers at Felton Fair and Quik Stop, who are drunk or methed out in public, who smoke pot or cigarettes in no-smoking areas."
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 29, 2013
Tony -

You fail to see the forest before the trees. This is about Felton.. period. You do not even live here, yet here you are firmly ensconced in the issues that have arisen with the rise of the homeless population.

Step back and realize that people who pay taxes to live in this paradise of Felton are concerned as to certain behaviors. I realize that the crime in your home town of Los Gatos is virtually non existent.

The majority of the issues has to do with a few of the homeless, not all of them. We also realize that there are teenagers who are stepping into a tolerance level of drug ingestion from illicit products purchased from those who make the deck and park their personal drug shoppers paradise.

All I ask is that you step back and truly look at the behaviors. You, yourself, have said in numerous postings that you are disgusted by the activities of some who fall into the category of "homeless." Quit being so quick to defend comments that are based in truth that you have acknowledged.

Thanks.

Kristi
Rhonda Kesler
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October 29, 2013
Tony, why are you trying so hard to keep the topic narrow? The article can read one way (which it obviously does), but the comments here are still relevant to the homeless, transient problem in town. The big problem in town IS "the transients who scream and attack shoppers at Felton Fair and Quik Stop, who are drunk or methed out in public, who smoke pot or cigarettes in no-smoking areas."

So we are going to keep talking about it no matter how badly you want us to shut up.

Geez, control issues or what?
John T.
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November 06, 2013
Well, so much for not shutting up.
Michael H
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November 29, 2013
Yeah, so much for not shutting up. Rhonda and Kristi need to get a room!
Joe B
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December 18, 2013
All this hate is why your Felton Reboot group died out and no longer exists on Facebook. Your efforts to clean up trash around Felton are commendable, but blaming the homeless for all the problems is deplorable. You earned your own demise. . . and YES, you DID shut up!
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 28, 2013
First and foremost, I have no issue with the homeless folks. It is their behavior that causes me concern. The media piece is meant to evoke emotion (whether it be pity or animosity) toward their plight. Allow me to further expand.....

The gal from Virginia, whose street name is Angel, keeps telling everyone "I'm just waiting for my check so we can pour gravel on the spot we are renting. That check should arrive in two weeks." This was about two months ago. When talking to the sheriff, she was told the same thing six months ago. I see her and her partner parked behind Covered Bridge with an open bbq shooting flames up to the trees they are bbq'ing under. Often times, this bbq is left unattended while they stay inside their RV. That frightens me. Also, where are they dumping their tank of waste when it fills? If they want to be left alone, then they need to find a legal place to park their RV vs. parking it in Felton Faire, behind the park, in the park or at Rite Aid. There are plenty of RV parks in Felton and they both receive disability payments. Why not do that so they can have their peace?

Why did the twin men not get interviewed? One lives at Rose Acres, while the other chooses to remain homeless. He would rather self medicate vs. live in a home with rules (which he has stated to my face). He often goes without his meds (to treat the voices in his head) and his brother is not willing to keep him on track. They both receive disability payments, yet the homeless twin's case worker holds on to his money and only doles it out piece meal so he won't blow it all entirely on booze and drugs. Just three weeks ago, when walking by a table of homeless smoking a joint at Covered Bridge Park (right near where the children's play area is located), I overheard homeless twin say to his brother and another friend from Rose Acres, "Stay here. I'm going to go buy mushrooms from that guy." Were those mushrooms for an awesome pizza they would be enjoying? Doubtful.

Where is the interview for the known trouble making homeless (the younger ones)? They should have been interviewed as well. I've cleaned up a few meth pipes from their specific camp and within Covered Bridge Park. These are the folks who will hassle you at Felton Faire.. or basically anywhere.

My group, Felton Reboot, is trying to keep the town clean. Meaning we clean camps that have been asked to move from the sheriff and have been given ample time to do so in accordance with specific penal codes. We also pick up the general litter that has been done via crow, raccoon, etc., but also the litter of the homeless. Last I checked, crows and raccoons don't smoke cigs or drink 40 ounce beers/hard liquor in the overgrowth of Covered Bridge Park.

The group pictured does their best, now, to pick up the space near the picnic bench by the gas station. I applaud their effort, however; all it takes is one illegal maneuver by one of the younger homeless to put the spotlight on their area. One bad apple does spoil the whole bunch. This group has acknowledged this.

What about the Heritage deck? Where there is a mix of homeless, homeless advocate and some of the Rose Acres smoking cigs (where it is posted no smoking), drink alcohol and everyday at 4:20p, decide it is ok to smoke marijuana? This tiny town's businesses rely heavily on the tourist dollar (as well as local) to survive. Would you want to go to the downtown to be harassed by the smells coming from the deck and the general language used by these folks. The deck is supposed to be a welcoming spot for all to use. I do not begrudge anyone from using the deck because it is a really lovely spot. However, use of the deck to get high and drunk absolutely against the law. Just because you have your Prop 215 MMJ card, does not mean you can smoke marijuana wherever you please.

The sand box at Covered Bridge was removed for two reasons: the wood surrounding it was rotten and the fact that a resident of Felton witnessed a homeless man pull out his penis to urinate in the sand box in full view of her. I've often witness the older homeless population that stays at the picnic table urinate in the bushes surrounding that area.

The fact of the matter is that with each camp site comes human waste. No matter how clean the spot appears, they are relieving themselves near their sites. That makes it an environmental issue that we all should be concerned with.

This article was a great "feel bad for the homeless" article, but the truth of the matter is that a majority of these folks would rather remain homeless than get help for their addictions, mental health issues, etc. This is a fact. When you go out and meet these folks and you listen to their stories, including their addictions (which were not spoken of in this article), that is where the true story of the homeless lay.

I have nothing against the homeless population. In fact, I've brought them donuts, toiletries, large industrial trash bags to keep their treasures clean and dry, and bags of food when I can afford it (I am unemployed). But when one of the homeless men approached my 8 year old daughter drunk out of his skull telling her "I wouldn't walk here alone" (even though I was two paces behind her), then I have to step in and ask what the hell is going on here?

Why is it we, as a community, are afraid to take our children to a park that is meant for children to play in? As stated to homeless team member David Paul, you have to give respect to gain respect. It has to be a two way street.
anonymous
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October 28, 2013
Where to begin?! I will try to be brief.

Linda's nickname is 'Angel', which I believe is how she was known professionally when she worked at Dominican Hospital. (This is a trivial issue, but 'street name' sounds like something a cheap hooker would have.) She and Mr. Ropes have been able to park their camper a few times, only to be forced to leave each time. They have not been parking around Felton continuously for the past few months, but presently happen to be in transition (although they may be parked now.) Finding a relatively permanent location is not as easy as it might seem. Staying at a campground is only a temporary solution, and spaces are not always available. Getting to the dumping station in Scott's Valley to dump the waste tank is not a problem though. Their barbecue is no more dangerous than what so many of us have in our backyards. The box elder and sycamore trees are high enough to not get damaged.

In regard to Anthony and Robert (the twins who are not actually twins), only Anthony is homeless and relevant to the article. I suppose that he was not interviewed for the same reason that another exemplary homeless man who does not drink alcohol and has never used drugs was not interviewed; - not all of the homeless people can be interviewed. Besides, he does not represent the homeless any more accurately than Robert represents those who live in homes. (All this gossip provides plenty of information about him anyway.) The other trouble making homeless are probably difficult to catch for an interview, but would likely provide some really enlightening information. However, the abundance of meth pipes is a mystery to everyone directly involved. I have helped some of those addicted to meth move and clean their camps, but have only seen meth pipes in pictures in the Facebook group, including the meth pipe so prominently displayed in the playground. Meth addicts to not often lose pipes because pipes are rather expensive, and without their pipes, they can not use meth. Many of the cans and bottles are likely left by the homeless who drink alcohol excessively, but are also collected by the homeless who recycle them, which is why some of the homeless are so often seen carrying big bags that collectively exceed the volume of trash collected by people who are not homeless. What about the Heritage Deck (Community Deck)? The problems there are certainly not exclusive to the homeless, and actually involve quite a mix of people, so can not be blamed on the homeless, whom this article is about. The sand box was removed because of rotten wood and because Anthony (who we talked about earlier) peed in it. (Actually, it was removed without permission from the Santa Cruz County Parks Department, which would have been considered to be theft and vandalism if it had been done by a homeless person.) As I already mentioned, Anthony does not represent all homeless. Out in the forest, human waste is no more of an environmental hazard than if a mountain lion poops in the woods. Really, human waste decomposes much more efficiently out on the surface of the soil than if flushed into a septic system that eventually seeps into the San Lorenzo River. The only problem is that it is unpleasant if it is noticeable from the outside (like on trails in the parks). The idea that the majority of the homeless would prefer to remain homeless than to get help for addictions or mental health issues is just plain incorrect. In many situations, mental health issues and addictions are simply too debilitating. All these problems are certainly very serious problems. There are no easy solutions. In the end though, this article is about the homeless; not about providing solutions, blaming, justifying bad behavior, or even making anyone feel bad for the homeless. It is information, so that those who are not familiar with homelessness can learn a bit more about it.
Tony Tomeo
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October 28, 2013
Oops. I neglected to put my name on that.
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 29, 2013
Tony -

Have you talked with Angel? Do you know her street name was given to her by someone else on the street? Most likely not because this is a FACT she shared with me when I SPOKE WITH HER. She is a nice lady and I have zero qualms with her or her boyfriend as human beings. They are nice folks. What I have issue with is 1) being lied to about the having a permanent spot and 2) parking wherever they feel like. The parking lots, public areas, etc. are not their personal camp ground and it is against code to do such. What is it about that you cannot fathom?

The sand box was removed by Parks & Recreation according to Clyde, who actually works for that organization. Again, facts overrule your perception.

Upon speaking with Robert and Anthony - Robert chooses to stay at Rose Acres when he feels like it. Many a time I have talked with both of them while they share a mattress at whichever spot they choose to call home for the time. Have you talked with either of them? I'm thinking most likely no. I never said Anthony is the epitome of what the homeless community represents. Again, this is you taking a dark path of mis-interpretation. Anthony needs very serious help before he hurts not only himself, but someone else. You, yourself, have stated that you steer clear of both of these due to their thieving, etc.

I've gone through this town and have noticed an abundance of liquor, beer and soda containers that have been in the park for some time. Not all items left behind are recycled, which is a shame. I have given huge industrial trash bags so the homeless can police their own trash and recyclables. I would like to think this is working.

The meth pipe so prominently displayed on FB's BBF page seems to have struck a chord with you. It is not prominently displayed as it should be. This was a meth pipe located right next to a children's party with the kids getting ready to conduct an Easter egg hunt with the pipe within four feet from an egg. Get your facts straight.

The issue with the Heritage Deck is primarily an issue of those I highlighted in my response: homeless, homeless advocate and some of the Rose Acres folks. Sure, there are locals who like to go there and score their pot and smoke it there, but those are few and far between. Talk with the sheriff's office about the calls placed and who the parties are.

Tony - you fly off the handle with what are fact based statements about the issues that are occurring within the town of Felton. Now tell us what are you doing to help curb these actions? You state kids are coming up to you at Felton Faire to purchase marijuana, which you do not use nor sell. Did you call that into the sheriff?

Look, if you really want to help the town change the perception of the homeless, homeless advocate, etc., then do something other than try to circumvent every fact I have mentioned.

and by the way - this "gossip" that you say this information is... well, most of it comes from your Bring Back Felton postings.

Again.. thank you.

Kristi
C N
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October 31, 2013
Kristi,

The Santa Cruz County Parks Department knows nothing about the removal of the sandbox in Covered Bridge Park.

You said, "The sand box was removed by Parks & Recreation according to Clyde, who actually works for that organization. Again, facts overrule your perception."
Michael H
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November 29, 2013
Kristi,

Look at what Bill Ligus said above. You are wrong on so many levels. How can you be so nasty? Why are you so mean? You obviously don't care about Felton. You just hate people and label them as 'homeless' to justify hating them! Go back to Morgan Hill!
Michael H
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November 29, 2013
Gee, what a B!
Robert Norse
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October 27, 2013
Thanks to those posting here for giving their names--unlike many of the trolls on the Sentinel's website, who spew hatred against the homeless anonymously.

It also takes some courage to counter the current fires of hatred against the homeless being stoked downtown by groups like the Downtown Association, Take Back Santa Cruz, and the Santa Cruz Neighbors with real stories about real people instead of demonic stereotypes.

Santa Cruz Mayor Bryant's Task Force on "Public Safety" (where the homeless are being billed as a chief menace) could learn a thing or two. This group meets every Wednesday 6-9 PM at the SCPD's Community room downtown. I'd suggest avoiding a heavy meal before you go. Their "research' can be found on line at http://www.cityofsantacruz.com/index.aspx?page=1924 .

As one who has made scores of trips to the Quik Stop (over a period of 6 years), I've never seen these sinister shadowy figures that one commenter writes of. Sometimes one bad experience can color one's subsequent perceptions quite strongly.
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 29, 2013


I have never been hassled at the Quick Stop, but my understanding is that the level of criminal activity has cleared up at that part of town. The only static I receive is at Safeway or CVS from people who are looking for some money to eat. If I had it, I would share. I have provided dog food and other fresh food items to the table at Covered Bridge Park. One of my team members provides new thick socks, which I think is super important to the maintenance of any semblance of health (the feet are the doorway for so much bacteria!).

I'm reading some of the Task Force papers. Interesting and informative to be certain. I'd rather not attend the meetings, though. I've helped clean out huge camps with The Clean Team and I've seen just about everything and anything imaginable.

My thoughts, though, Mr. Norse are if you see the push of homeless out of spots like Pasatiempo and the Pogonip leading to added numbers up here in SLV?

Kristi
j fleming
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October 26, 2013
I've worked all my life, bought a home in Felton, took care of my Mother, then she passed away. I found 50 yr old self without any job opportunities, forced to sell my home and 1 month from homelessness. I was fortunate to get a job but if I hadn't, I'd be grateful to hook up with these folks who seem responsible and caring. god bless.

Dawn Lorthrop
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October 27, 2013
That is a nice picture, isn't it? Those people look kind and not a drop of alcohol or meth in sight. They have my sympathy and I ponder how I can help them.

Now, go to the park when a photo op hasn't been set up and tell me what you see.
Bill P.
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October 27, 2013
Mrs. Lorthrop,

The Park is a public space, and you are certainly welcome to come visit the homeless who might happen to congregate there at any particular time; but please refrain from doing so while inebriated or after using meth, as you have expressed an interest in. Many of the homeless find such behavior to be quite objectionable. Generally, you will find that the majority of the homeless about Felton are remarkably kind, just as you mentioned. Many might even be pleased to indulge you with a photo op, so that you have illustrations if you would like to share your experience with others. Although your sympathy and desire to help are appreciated, your understanding would likely be more important. Anyway, it is indeed a nice picture.
Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 28, 2013
Bill P -

Ms. Nortrup has not expressed an interest in being inebriated or under the influence of alcohol. The fact of the matter is that 8 out of 10 homeless are self medicating in one way or another.

What you have accurately stated is that yes, the park is a public space. Anyone is welcome to use it and I love that about the park. However; using the park to smoke a joint, drink a beer or smoke profusely is against the codes stated within the park. It is common sense.

There are members of the community (homeless, with a home or a mental health facility) who find it acceptable to go to the park and use these drugs/drinks in front of children, etc. It makes it an uncomfortable environment for all.

The photo is lovely. I like to see happy faces and I have talked with a majority of these folks. The homeless who have grown up here, gone to the SLV schools, etc., have some of the best stories to share. If anyone has a chance to stop by their table to chat and ask about the town of yesteryear, I strongly encourage.
Tony Tomeo
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October 28, 2013
Again, why are we talking about this? This is about the homeless.
Rhonda Kesler
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October 24, 2013
This is a touching article. And it's super important to get a variety of stories from people in order to form a better picture. I have much sympathy for the people who Joe Shreve has interviewed.

However, it paints a one-sided picture. Just about anybody who has shopped at the Safeway center or made the mistake of stopping in at the Quik Stop after dark, has had direct contact with extremely hostile, methed-out, drunk, violent characters.

So, go thank you for showing us this tender side of the transient problem, but please either show the other side, or follow up with an article that is closer to reality.

Otherwise, you're just sounding like the Sentinel.
Tony Tomeo
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October 25, 2013
Actually, this article seems to be the 'other side' to the 'one-sided picture' formerly portrayed by the various former articles about the problems associated with the homeless. I believe this information to be 'closer to reality' than the belief that all homeless are 'transients' or 'extremely hostile, methed-out, violent characters' who loiter at Safeway and Quick Stop.
Carl Camden
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October 25, 2013
The comment above did not say that all homeless are that way. She said that one can encounter those types at Safeway and Quik Stop. If you are going to engage in discussion, please read accurately first.
Tony Tomeo
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October 25, 2013
I did not say that the comment did say that. Perhaps you should read accurrately. Perhaps the characters mentioned are not so important to such discussion, since the article is about the homeless.

Kristi FitzPatrick
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October 28, 2013
Tony -

You are over reading into the post by Ms. Kesler. She has stated that just about anyone who has gone to the Quick Stop or Safeway after dark has run into some "characters" that can safely be deemed as hostile, violent, methed-out or drunk.

I know that you are doing a great job being the town's advocate for fair treatment of the homeless and I really appreciate all that you do for our town.

Ms Kesler is accurate, though, that there have been incidents of people behaving badly at these specific locations in the past. She is also accurate that there is only a small portion of the homeless population that was interviewed for this article. You and I both know there are four to six of the younger homeless population that have been behaving badly.

Thank you,

Kristi
Tony Tomeo
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October 28, 2013
I am aware that there are such characters who loiter in the particular locations, and that some of these characters happen to be homeless as well. However, this article is not exclusively about these few characters. It is about the homeless in Felton. Almost all of the kids who loiter and engage in illegal activity in the lower parking lot of Felton Faire at night are not homeless. Most live in homes with their parents. Yet, they do not represent everyone who lives in homes in Felton. Those who harass the homeless, and vandalize and burn their campers and campsites likewise do not represent residents of Felton who live in homes, and are contrarily an embarrassment to the community.


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