Tent Cities: Is Suburban Blight the New Normal?
Updated: Apr 10
We're used to urban blight. But now in the twenty-first century we are facing suburban blight. And we're trying not to pay attention. But maybe we should pay attention before it gets worse. This is Marin, these are all pictures taken on the morning of April 8th, 2021 in Novato in and around Lee Garner Park and the public library. We've been talking about homelessness for awhile now... But we haven't been talking about it the right way. We've talked about the harm to the environment... Trash dumped in creeks probably isn't a good thing. We've worried about property values... this is Marin... People CARE about real estate values. We've talked about crime and quality of life.... People have screamed in the streets about "compassion" and cost of living. But we've failed to talk about fairness.
Allowing and ENCOURAGING a small downtown park --a park with wheelchair accessible paths designed for people with disabilities and parents pushing strollers-- to become a residential encampment for a couple of dozen individuals is inherently UNFAIR to the hundreds, maybe thousands, of local residents who would normally use that park to walk, picnic on the lawn, play... lean over the bridge with their children and try and catch a glimpse of a fish in the stream below.
What we are seeing here is a prime example of a mis-use and appropriation of a public area for private use. Property owners pay taxes to maintain public use areas in Novato. Sadly for almost a year now the library has been providing reduced services due to Covid. (Taxes have not been reduced of course.) And... in the meantime a new "community" has built a tent village in the park and chosen to live by their own rules.
The new rules this new community is living by are an overt attack on the existing rules. Because... shockingly enough it is not merely "custom" that has kept people from throwing trash in the creek, camping out on the lawn and having cook-outs. There are rules. We even still have a sign that details some of those rules.
A picture of the sign is above. Apparently a permit is necessary for cookouts, or consuming alcohol.... No barbecues are allowed and people aren't supposed to use the park during closed hours. Well... less than 55 feet from the sign forbidding barbecues there is now a cooking tent with a barbecue permanently set up. A picture of the barbecue and cooking area is below.
There are roughly 20-35 permanent tents. And on New Year's Day of 2021 this Millennial Republican blogger witnessed about a dozen people having a party on the lawn passing around a bottle of tequila.
As for trash? Well... there is a lot of litter now. A lot. So we must ask.... is this an example of different rules for me and thee? If a mom wanted to have a party for her kids at the park she would need a permit to get a bouncy house but apparently it is now "compassion" to allow dozens of people to set up residence in the park and barbecue.
Is it "fair" to allow a public park that should be used by thousands of people to become the semi private residential area of a few dozen? Is this good for the community? For the environment? For taxpayers? Is it fair?