The Los Angeles Times has a fascinating article on the City of Hesperia’s ongoing crusade against outsiders, including residents of halfway homes, who are believed by some to be causing an uptick in crime in the city. It’s the ultimate NIMBY (“Not in My Backyard”) argument taking place in the high desert city, with Mayor Bill Holland even comparing the city’s campaign to the extermination of cockroaches.
The efforts include a new law requiring landlords to evict any tenants suspected of criminal activity, as well the revival of some once-forgotten ordinances that make the operation of transitional homes difficult. The campaign has placed the city in legal limbo. In July, a U.S. District judge issued a preliminary injunction in a federal lawsuit brought by a halfway house owner against the city. It placed on hold evictions that had occurred as a result of this ordinance and barred the city from enforcing its group-home and rental ordinances against the nonprofit that runs the homes.
“The criminals have all the rights,” said the mayor. “We’re trying to do what we can to minimize the impact on our community. We’re trying to take a stand, trying to do what we can to protect the good people.”
There are deeper implications for the city’s efforts, however. As the Los Angeles Times notes, “the case underscores the challenges bedeviling California's ongoing attempt to dramatically reduce its prison population. The success of the state’s strategy, which diverts low-level offenders from state prison and into county-run programs, rests heavily on having transitional home… helping ex-inmates reintegrate into society.”
But some on the city council say early release programs are exactly what has gotten the city into its current situation. The state is releasing a bunch of “deadbeats” into the community, said Councilman Russ Blewett.
Councilman Eric Schmidt agreed:
“The people that aggravate us aren’t from here. They’re from somewhere else, and they come here to hide, they come here for our affordable housing. … We all know there is a significant number of them that come here with their tainted histories.”
Read more about Hesperia’s campaign against outsiders and the legal implications here.
Image Credit: Flickr User ramyraoof, https://flic.kr/p/9eB1o8 via (CC BY 2.0)