Part 2. Lunch at Plaza Park – Where the Homeless Gather

by Jack

As hoped, my next contact in the park was with Teri Dubose, the organizer for “Lunch in the Park.”

Quite some time ago, Teri began to feel a little uneasy taking her lunch breaks in Plaza Park.  This was due to a growing number of some pretty rough and dirty characters hanging out there and the absence of Chicoans and their families.

Teri told me during her lunch breaks she had observed on occasion what looked like dope transactions taking place and other times people using drugs.   The whole seedy atmosphere of transients, drugs, bad behavior, just made her feel unsafe.

This was supposed to be a public park, but the transients had taken it over as their place to loiter all day long.  This motivated Teri to do something to turn this situation around, but what could she do as just one person?   Then it came to her in a flash: Hey, don’t avoid the park – just invite some friends to join her.  The idea was to start filling up the benches and tables with local folks so the families would return. 

It was hoped their peaceful presence may slow down some the criminal activity that she had noticed in the recent past.  Thus began the idea of “Lunch in Plaza Park” every Wed. and Friday at 1 p.m.  It began with a few concerned citizens and their numbers have kept growing ever since.

I want to make this part very, very clear:  According to Teri and the other people I spoke with, nobody among them is looking for trouble.  They only want to have their lunch and to be a law abiding presence.  They do not want a confrontation with the transients or anyone else.   This is a 100% peaceful group and thus are not… vigilantes, nor does it look like they could morph into such a group.  They are, however, all about keeping the park open to kids, families or  anyone without having legitimate concerns over drug sales, drug use or other criminal activities.

My feeling is, the people of Chico have spent a lot of tax money to makeover Plaza Park, but since the arrival of these so-called homeless, the park improvements seem to be at risk.  Maybe it is time to support Teri and the community.  Come out for lunch do not be intimidated by these outsiders.

I was going to cut the following for the sake of brevity, but maybe you would be interested in just a little more?

Up till this time, there have been too many criminal incidents that have kept families away.  For example, there have been arrests for drunkenness, littering, and vandalism. The latter caused the restrooms to be locked early.  The immediate around the park has suffered from shoplifting, car break-ins, bike thefts, fighting, stabbings, prostitution, destruction of public property and other crimes up to and including murder.

Now, back to my interview:  Teri said, “if more people would come out and use our park, the less likely that kind of behavior would happen.”  I know she is right, but I’m also concerned for her safety.  This is not a risk free idea because the area is still full of chronic troublemakers.

Teri’s opinion was that Chico has been on the receiving end for problems that were given one-way bus tickets to Chico, or they were simply forced out of other communities for their bad behavior.   However, Teri emphasized she is not out to deny anyone the use of our services or run anyone off from Chico.  But, her group will not tolerate criminal behavior by homeless abusing those services and our community.   As responsible citizens they are trying to do what they can to help reclaim this blighted park that sits right in the heart of Chico and they could use your help!

From my own investigation I have determined that a majority of the homeless we see camping in the parks, washing  clothes in the city fountain, etc., absolutely do come from far outside this area.   How they got here is a little less certain, but I have heard from our police officers that some communities have resorted to buying one-way bus tickets for their problem people.  And some cities have gone so far as to give them one-way airline tickets to some place far away!  How do I know that?  Well,  I personally saw the end result of “shuttling” in Honolulu.   I’m pretty sure those homeless didn’t have the money for a plane ticket, so somebody paid for them to go there.   If it can happen to Hawaii, it can happen to little Chico.  That practice should be against the law!






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14 Responses to Part 2. Lunch at Plaza Park – Where the Homeless Gather

  1. Patrick G Newman says:

    Please see the Point In Time Study for data on where the homeless originate and how long they have lived here. You are flat wrong. Also, the downtown homeless are no threat to Teri and never have been. But, for merchants and landlords, they are not good for our “image.” So, they are demonized. Too bad almost all of those same merchants and landlords have supported social and economic policies that landed us right where we are. Poverty getting worse and social programs cut to the bone. So, we have too little public housing, mental health services, addiction recovery, etc. But, look at the taxes the super rich have saved!!! So, let’s just send ol’ Doug back to congress again and we’ll keep going down your “objectivist” road. Other developed countries wonder at our stupidity.

      • Common sense says:

        Rand, Activist and liberal also. So what’s your point.

        And Teri is no threat to the homeless, She and her friends are just trying to enjoy a lunch at the plaza, and I observed she and her friends don’t leave a mess when they leave, to bad the homeless don’t do the same, maybe if they did less issues would arise.

        No one is demonizing anyone just for being homeless, Chico business are just concerned the downtown is not being respected by all.

        If you want to see for your self, join Teri for a lunch on Wednesdays and Fridaysat 1:00 PM if you can, come see for your self who’s doing what, it might be just the eye opener you need to get involved in our community like Teri has.

    • More Common Sense says:

      First let’s take a look at the “Point In Time Study” Residence section.

      1. I immediately noted the sentence “Many people who completed a survey
      were originally from Butte County.”. I think the key phrase is “who completed”. So right away the data is suspect because it is incomplete. What would the numbers look like if all the homeless responded. Unfortunately we will never know because it is not possible to include people in the census that do not cooperate. Is it possible that people from out of town might be less cooperative than people that are comfortable with the area? Keep in mind all of this information is skewed because it includes local families that are temporarily homeless due to some financial event that is resolved within a period of time. I don’t see many homeless with children downtown. These are not your Torres Shelter homeless. They are mostly males 18 to 25 that have no intention of cooperating with any program to resolve their homelessness. Their homelessness is also a result of a financial situation but the financial situation is a symptom of the real problem and is not the actual problem. Give them money for a hotel room and you are more likely to find them drunk or stoned in the park than you are to find them in a hotel room.

      2. The rest of that paragraph covers people that became homeless in Butte County after coming here for some other reason. The most common reason for coming to Butte County was to live with family who moved here; parents, grandparents, siblings, or children. Counting these homeless people as residents is a bit dishonest. If they have family in Butte County why are they now on the street. How many of them are homeless from another city that came to Butte County to live with family and then were ejected from the home due to unacceptable behavior?

      3. Is it possible that the homeless people cooperating with the census are not being completely honest? Even I know that the correct answer, the answer the census taker wants to hear, is that they became homeless in Butte County. None of them wants to be looked at as a problem coming from outside sources. Could there be a little dishonesty here? Actually there is a big red flag that indicates this is more than a possibility. The report concludes that 78% of the homeless lived in Butte County when they became homeless (based on incomplete and possibly erroneous data as stated above). However, 88% consider themselves Butte County residents. Why is there a difference?

      4. The data is for all of Butte County. The issue we are discussing here has to do with the homeless in downtown Chico. It is a bit naive to think that the homeless are evenly spread out over all of Butte County. I suspect Oroville has many more homeless families than Chico since it is the County Seat and that is where County services are. As I said, I have never seen a homeless family in downtown chico. I have rarely seen an elderly homeless person in downtown Chico. Again it is mostly young men.

      Patrick said “But, for merchants and landlords, they are not good for our “image.” So, they are demonized.”. I’ll admit the image of transients in the downtown is not a good image for the downtown area. (Notice, I said transient and not homeless. As I said in previous comment for most of the people in the downtown homelessness is a symptom of the problem, not the real problem.) But that is not what has upset all the other people in the downtown It is the crime, filth, and bad behavior that is the problem. It is the drug deals occurring out in the open. It is the fights between the transients. It is the garbage left after they leave a spot where they had settled for some time. It is the excrement in the doorways, smeared on windows, in the middle of the sidewalk. Yes, restrooms downtown are a problem. But they keep tearing them apart! How difficult is it to find a spot behind a bush where you can do your business and then bury it. When it is done in a doorway or on the sidewalk it is more of an antisocial statement than a need to relieve themselves. It is also the bad behavior, the aggressive, threatening, and violent behavior. By saying it is just about image you are trying to make the downtown merchants concerns look petty. It is you, Patrick, that is demonizing the downtown merchants and shoppers.

      Patrick said “Poverty getting worse and social programs cut to the bone. So, we have too little public housing, mental health services, addiction recovery, etc. But, look at the taxes the super rich have saved!!!”. Wow, it is always the fault of the rich? Such envy! I think Patrick knows that the rich pay far more taxes than anyone else. Their percentage of the taxes collected is huge. But I guess they make good targets because “that’s where the money is”. I never understood the logic that someone with money has more of a responsibility to pay for government programs than anyone else. Actually they already do but for people like Patrick it is never enough. I suspect Patrick would be very happy to take it all. There is a problem with that philosophy. It’s a very slippery slope. No matter how little money you have there will likely be someone that has less than you. Does that fact give you more of a responsibility to take care of that person than anyone else? If my neighbor has more money than me and I can’t pay my rent do I have a right to take his money and pay my rent because he has more than enough to live. No, it would be called theft. How about if I get a friend to go with me to take his money? Nope, still theft. How about if I get 100 friends, 1000 friends to go with me to take the money. No, again, it is still theft. How about if I get the government to go with me. Well, that might make it legal but it is still theft.

      Mr. Newman, you seem to have far more than the transients you claim to help. How do you reconcile that with your philosophy. I’m sure you believe you give enough. But what rule do you apply to make that determination? It is interesting that you find it acceptable that you determine the rule for you AND you determine the rule for everyone else too.

      Mr. Newman, the lack of services and public housing has less to do with the rich not paying enough taxes and more to do with out of control public employee unions and politicians who are in their pocket. A public employee in Butte County makes far more in monthly salary than a private employee doing the same job. Then there are the benefits. For many public employees their retirement consists of a monthly amount equal to 3% of their highest monthly salary for each year served. As an example, a 20 year old man entering the Fire Department might work his way up to a senior position earning $150,000 per year. At the age of 50 he can retire and receive $135,000 per year. But that isn’t all. He can now take a job in another area and with his experience work another 15 years making $150,000 per year while also receiving the $135,000 per year retirement. Assuming after 15 years he is making $200,000 per year he can then retire at 65 with the first retirement of $135,000 plus a another retirement of $90,000 per year. That’s a total of $225,000 per year for the rest of his life. Considering life expectancy is going up that is a huge burden on the government pension fund.

      Look at it from the City’s point of view. When the fireman retires they will be paying him $135,000 per year retirement. Then, they promote another senior fireman into his position. Let assume he has 20 years in service. Ten years later he retires and another person takes his place. Assume this occurs every 10 years. When the first fireman reaches the age of 80 the City will be paying a fireman actually doing the job and retirement for 4 other retired fireman just for that one job. This is insane. First, private retirement plans don’t even come close to providing a 90% of salary retirement. Most retirement plans now are 401K plans. When the person retires they are on their own with their 401K. There is no burden on the company after they retire. Right now the city, county, and state are all facing huge unfunded retirement commitments. Second, the public retirement plan is not sustainable and is bankrupting city, county, and state governments. In Chico there has been a big increase of the percentage of money spent for employees compared to other expenses. THAT is why there is is no money for social programs and housing. It is time to examine the public retirement programs but our state legislature is more into bullet trains to nowhere.

      Many of the transients have mental problems. Prior to 1975 many of these people would be placed in an institution for their own good. They received medical care, food, housing, recreation, and treatment. My grandmother was nurse at a facility in Napa, CA. I remember visiting her at the hospital and based on what I saw they were will treated. And, if their treatment was effective they were released. So what happened? An ACLU suit. See .

      “The United States Supreme Court ruled that a state cannot constitutionally confine a non-dangerous individual who is capable of surviving safely in freedom by themselves or with the help of willing and responsible family members or friends.”

      Unfortunately “surviving” means just that. If they can sleep in the streets and not freeze to death, if they can find enough food in dumpsters, if they don’t catch any diseases from the filth they might live in, if they are not killed or crippled by violent attacks, etc But at least they are free to do what they want and create as much havoc as the community will tolerate. . This decision was very unfortunate. It victimizes the mentally ill that end up on the streets and the communities they live in.

      I think Patrick needs to delude himself. Otherwise he would have to accept that his solutions are not solutions.

    • Drive By Conservative says:

      Teri said, “if more people would come out and use our park, the less likely that kind of behavior would happen.”

      This person has it completely backwards. Why should anyone with a lick of common sense risk themselves or their children by hanging out with a bunch of bums, thieves, low-lives and potentially violent or violent criminals and their their excrement and urine?

      Liberals are constantly complaining about having “safe spaces.” Put up or shut up. Clean up the park and the plaza. Make it a citizen’s safe space for visitors, residents, and our children. Do it for the children. I would say to the left that runs this town, “Stop turning Chico into a crime ridden, festering hell hole.” But it already is one downtown and in the park.

      Aside: Liberals are bound and determined to raise another generation of snowflake morons.

      Young student, “If a simple name change could make students feel safe, then why are we holding back?”

      Good lord that is ridiculous. Teach children the difference between a noun and a verb and maybe toss in a little local history while you are at it. Teach them what the verb means. Any kid with an I.Q. above 80 should be able to grasp it.

    • Tina says:

      Patrick why do you think it’s okay to expect nothing, not even common decency and respect, from transient people? What right do they have to defecate and urinate in the doorways of businesses? I don’t have that right nor do you!

      People were homeless in the nineteen twenties too. Most of them had learned some manners growing up and were humbled enough in their position to offer work in exchange for a place to sleep in the barn or a sandwich. Attitudes today are much different and not in a positive way. A bad attitude will not get anyone very far in life. Why do you defend bad behavior?

      Your own attitude is also disturbing. State and local spending on welfare alone in 2016 was $34.6 billion. There are a number of resources available to people who are in need beyond this spending. In addition to government sponsored programs there are charitable organizations. It appears that most of the people Jack is talking about are not willing to use the resources available to them.

      We do not tax wealth…we tax earnings. Wealth is property. The “super rich” are taxed at 50% of their earnings, state and federal. The top earners are also required to pay in advance…to make quarterly deposits ahead of filing rather than paying at the time of filing as the rest of us do. So our government makes money on that tax money throughout the year.

      Nearly half of working people pay nothing in federal (or state) taxes. Quite a few receive a subsidy.

      In 2015 CBO found the top 1% paid 24% of federal taxes and the top 10% paid 53.3% of federal taxes. See here (charts no longer available).

      In 2014 CBO found, “Top 40% Paid 106.2% of Income Taxes; Bottom 40% Paid -9.1%, Got Average of $18,950 in ‘Transfers'”

      The lefty slogan about the rich not paying their “fair share” is BS.

      Human nature is never figured in to the equation in the progressive mind. If you tax something you get less of it. Taxing those who make a lot of money and invest and start businesses is therefore quite stupid. It depresses the very thing that the average working stiff needs to keep him working! Who wants to put money at risk, or expend a lot of energy building something, if the government is going to take half of the profits right off the bat! How can a company grow if it’s profits are confiscated year after year?

      How can a family grow it’s wealth, for that matter, when it is taxed to death?

      If you want a strong economy and good jobs with good wages you have to be smart about taxation. Tax policy should encourage investment, creativity, and risk taking. It should encourage the middle class entrepreneur who wants to become wealthy. Dynamic activity creates broad opportunity and will result in more revenue flowing (willingly) to the government. This isn’t a right wing partisan opinion. It was the opinion of John F. Kennedy, and it was the shift that Bill Clinton took to get the economy roaring:

      The Clinton years provide lessons on the effects of tax increases and decreases. The American left attributes the successful economy of the Clinton years to the former and ignores the impact of the latter in order to justify their appetite for the increases they would have us believe will provide additional tax revenues today.

      The effects of increasing taxes on Treasury receipts can be seen in the Clinton and Democrat-controlled congressional tax increase of 1993, one of the largest in history. Despite a more robust job market following a recession, the 1993 tax increase didn’t accomplish what Democrats expected. The tax increases added very little to treasury receipts despite their magnitude. Reports from the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Internal Revenue Service all agree.

      In fact, the balanced budgets of the Clinton years didn’t occur until after a Republican Congress passed and the president reluctantly signed a 1997 tax bill that lowered the capital gains rate from 28% to 20%, added a child tax credit, and established higher limits on tax exclusion for IRAs and estates.

      The Bush tax cuts also illustrate the point (from the same article):

      To find a pure, easily illustrated example of tax decreases boosting the economy and Treasury receipts, one need only look at the current rates on capital gains and dividends. When Congress passed the 15-percent tax rate on capital gains in 2003, and again following the 2006 extension, Democrats protested that large deficits would result.

      The new leadership in Washington and those who support them would allow this tax cut to expire to “generate revenue” for the federal government. Based on data from Congress’s own budgetary agency, they should consider whether expiration will have the effect they desire.

      For anyone willing to read it, the January 2007 Congressional Budget Office annual report settles any debate. Citing the original CBO forecasts of capital gains tax revenue of $42 billion in 2003, $46 billion in 2004, $52 billion in 2005, and $57 billion in 2006, Democrats who opposed the rate reduction in 2003 claimed that the capital gains tax cut would “cost” the federal treasury $5.4 billion in fiscal years 2003-2006.

      Those forecasts were embarrassingly wrong. The 2007 CBO report revealed that capital gains and dividends tax collections were actually $51 billion in 2003, $72 billion in 2004, $97 billion in 2005, and $110 billion in 2006, the last two years nearly doubling initial forecasts.

      In other words, forecasts in earlier CBO reports were low by a total of $133 billion for the four-year period. This tax rate reduction stimulated enough additional economic activity to more than offset forecasted losses.

      Wise up…your resentment is unreasonable and your position is unhealthy for the average worker. Eight years of the rich getting rich, as they always do, with the middle class disappearing and the poor getting poorer should cause you to question your taxation belief system.

    • David Walton says:

      Re “Poverty getting worse and social programs cut to the bone.”

      That is absolute nonsense.

      Re “So, we have too little public housing, mental health services, addiction recovery, etc.”

      You may be right about the public housing in Chico. It is over loaded. The rest of this statement is pure, unadulterated horse pucky.

      Re: “But, look at the taxes the super rich have saved!!!”

      So your point is that the super rich are directly responsible for the critical mass of bums in Chico? Try a different tack, someone might actually take you seriously. Really, folks might actually start wondering if you are not the demented, self aggrandizing hot head most think you are.

      Re: “So, let’s just send ol’ Doug back to congress again and we’ll keep going down your “objectivist” road.”

      Works for me.

      Re: “Other developed countries wonder at our stupidity.”

      Like Venezuela for instance?

  2. J. Soden says:

    Suggest Teri and her friends carry Bear Repellant. No permit needed and works great!

    Nevada used to do the bus ticket to CA to get rid of their bums until Taxifornia went to court to stop it.

    You get what you vote for, Chico . . . . . .

    • Patrick G Newman says:

      If you interacted with the homeless, you would know your “bear repellant” idea is ridiculous. (But, why let experience get in the way of bigotry?)

      On point two, Nevada, please supply a reference. I know of one case of the City of Reno sending mental patients to San Francisco. Is that what you are trying to describe?

      Yes, Chico voted for homeless haters and more and more police and private security, on contract with the city. Instead of dealing with poverty and disability intelligently, we will try to demonize and deprive our way out of the crisis. It won’t work and good luck keeping the Bill of Rights; it no longer applies to the poorest people. Who is next?

      • J. Soden says:

        Accusations of bigotry or racism without proof is the mantra of those on the Left who cannot argue facts. Was willing to listen to Patrick G until he started that dreck.
        Sorry, Patrick. Your opinion no longer matters.

      • David Walton says:

        So, Mr. Neuman, do you really think demonizing people who are concerned about the terrible state of the plaza and park, who are concerned for their own and their children’s safety, who are concerned about mountains of trash and excrement, who are concerned about violence and crime; do you *really* think your constant demonization of them helps your cause?

  3. Teri DuBose says:

    It was very nice to meet you Jack! Thank you for making the effort to come to lunch in the plaza. Hope to see you again!

    • Post Scripts says:

      Thank you for the kind words Teri, I really appreciate it and I appreciate what you are doing for your community! It was a pleasure to meet you too and your group. I hope to have lunch in the Plaza just as often as time permits!

      As a side note, this homeless problem sure is a real tough one, isn’t it? It’s heartbreaking and frustrating. I known guys like Patrick mean well, so I can appreciate him too. I know he really thinks he is helping. But, in my opinion, all that “help” is just enabling…feeding an addiction and in some way contributing to their self destruction. Worse, I see the dropouts taking away from our very limited resources intended for our local needy. But, when our transient population balloons as it has, those resources get diluted. We’ve both seen how hundreds of transients can put a lot of stress on a little place like Chico. The downtown businesses, the community parks, our welfare services, etc., and that’s not right. We have enough people to care for without taking on the problems of a dozen other places.

      I believe the younger transients are still reachable, even though they are currently reject our values and are deliberately making bad alternative lifestyle choices. My hope is that the sooner they figure out they are on a destructive path, the better chance they will have of turning themselves around.

      Patrick’s method is making them more dependant, so I can’t support that. I firmly believe the people he is “helping” with free food will be less capable of recovery for every day that passes because some do-gooder is enabling them to stay on the street and away from the people who can really help them recover.

      Good luck Teri, I support you 100%!

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