Wednesday, August 3, 2016

To Those Who Wonder What to Do,

My wife and I had the privilege of being a part of Worth Street Reach close to the beginning of its inception.  While we had deep sympathy for those in Santa Barbara without homes, we were not sure how to navigate the streets and be confident we were going to be helping in a way that was safe, but more importantly, helping effectively and not contributing to existing struggles.

Meeting Deborah Barnes was no chance encounter.  We are certain it was an answer to our prayers that we would find guidance in how to serve.  If you've heard the expression, a heart of gold, Deborah's name is currently being added alongside that definition.  More importantly, it is her faith in a loving God that cares deeply about every person that guides her, allowing her to give generously, and with deep love for marginalized people, relying on Divine appointments.

We began volunteering with Worth Street Reach in Alameda Park on Thursday evenings in Santa Barbara.  What became clear right away was that we had a lot of misconceptions about the type of people that live on the streets, Urban Nomads as Deborah calls them, such as the stereotype that, they want to be homeless. While there are some common themes, each person has a story and deserves the same respect as anyone else.  We started out by striking up conversations with those we met and built trust by truly listening and being consistently available each week. 

What did we learn?  There is no cookie-cutter as to the kind of person you'll meet on the streets.   Nomads find themselves in desperate situations for a number of reasons, ranging from natural disasters, broken relationships, car/motorcycle/bike accidents, loss of a loved one, broken families, medical conditions, and addiction.  Addiction is the one that is so common and easy for us to think of as the reason behind all loss of home and financial stability.  It is sometimes the culprit, but many times a by-product of the aforementioned circumstances. The need that helps them sleep in unsafe places; to stop the fear; to stop the voices. What starts as an aid becomes an addiction.

From our time serving with Worth Street Reach, we learned a lot about life, others, ourselves and God.  We saw how afraid people are of those living on the streets, mostly because they stand aloof and allow their stereotypes and/or fear to permeate their thoughts and ideas.  We met kind, talented, amazing street nomads who had much to offer but had found themselves without a way to get out of their deteriorated circumstances.  We realized how much we take for granted each day.  A few of these include not having to worry about what our next meal will be or where we’ll have to walk to get it, the freedom to walk into businesses without feeling looked down upon or being turned away, and the luxury of having a clean, comfortable, safe and consistent place to stay each day and night; an address--a safe place where our most personal effects will not be stolen from us.  

During our time serving with Worth Street Reach, we had the incredible privilege to not only serve with amazing people, but to serve and be served by street friends.  We hope you will step out of your comfort zone and fear to see what joy there is in being able to offer street nomads a smile, a little kindness, respect, encouragement, and provide simple things like a pair of socks, a meal, and guidance to community resources. But also the gift of listening and recognizing street people as human beings and by not providing your answers or judgements, you will grow in astounding ways as we did.

Serving with Deborah taught us in ways we now use every day. We were open minded, which is what is needed, but we needed the guidance that was provided by Deborah and Worth Street Reach. Don’t be afraid, just get in touch and go!

Nolan & Elizabeth Hunt, Los Angeles   

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Deborah Barnes met with Mayor Helene Schneider on Thursday to request a delay in the RV Ban coming up on the agenda Sept 27th until solutions can be offered. By banning Motor Home dwellers from our city, it will cause a large amount of street homelessness that is unnecessary. Solutions can be found such as allowing a few to park in city lots, at Earl Warren Showgrounds, County lots on Foothill, an in yards or compounds in the industrial areas, etc. Also allowing Worth Street Reach to work with several on housing. Housing in our area is a crisis at .01% and with colleges and ESL programs coming back in soon, there will be even less housing. "We need to find solutions first", says Barnes. No one knows the number of RV Dwellers. So WSR is gathering all the data they can. The Mayor asked what other cities are doing, how can we know the numbers, and more excellent questions that no one has answers to. The Mayor came out into the hall to meet some of the Motor Home residents who were waiting to meet city council members. She welcomed them and we had the opportunity to put a face to who the dwellers are. City Council members were not available or did not show up for requested appointments. But meeting the Mayor was a key!
Parking Enforcement During the Fiesta Parade
updated: Jul 29, 2016, 11:55 AM

Source: Santa Barbara Police Department
To accommodate the needs of spectators at the Fiesta Historical Parade, the Santa Barbara Police Department will suspend enforcement of 75 and 90-minute curb parking on Friday, August 5, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the areas bounded by the following streets (including the perimeter streets). This does not apply to City parking lots.
Above the freeway: Valerio Street on the north, Bath Street on the west, and Laguna Street on the east.
Below the freeway: Cabrillo Boulevard on the south, Castillo Street on the west, and Garden Street on the east.
All other parking regulations will be enforced.

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Attempted Murder & Hate Crime Arrest 29 Jun

Sergeant Riley Harwood from City of Santa Barbara
Photo from Sergeant Riley Harwood
Francisco Antonio Diego, age 40, of Miami, Florida was arrested for attempted murder and violation of civil rights (hate crime) after he attacked a 34-year old homeless Santa Barbara resident with a knife. Diego is Hispanic and the victim of this crime is African-American. An off-duty officer from the Santa Barbara Police Department witnessed the altercation and intervened, likely saving the victim’s life.

On June 28, 2016 at 8:02 p.m., SBPD Sergeant Todd Johnson was off-duty in civilian clothes and riding his bicycle home following his shift as a patrol supervisor. While on the 00 block of E. Anapamu Street he observed a confrontation taking place on the south sidewalk between Diego and the victim. While shouting racial epithets Diego was repeatedly attempting to stab and slash the victim with a knife while the victim was shielding himself with a backpack. It

was apparent to Sergeant Johnson that the victim was about to be killed or seriously injured, and that the safety of numerous bystanders at a nearby bus stop could also be in jeopardy. Sergeant Johnson stopped and with gun drawn intervened in the altercation, halting the attack on the victim. He detained Diego at gunpoint and instructed bystanders to call the police. Moments later other officers arrived and Diego was taken into custody.

Investigation revealed that Diego had arrived in Santa Barbara earlier in the day and met the victim in the vicinity of the Santa Barbara Public Library at 40 E. Anapamu Street. Diego came to believe that the victim had taken his cigarettes, prompting Diego to attack the victim with a knife. Investigation indicates that this assault was also racially motivated.

Diego was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on the aforementioned charges with a bail amount of $1,000,000.00. Booking photo provided by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
This is ongoing from what I have seen! BE AWARE!
• Walk facing traffic and as far from traffic as possible if there is no sidewalk.
• Pay attention to the traffic moving around you. This is not the time to be texting or talking on a cell phone.
• Make eye contact with drivers as they approach. Never assume a driver sees you.
• Wear bright clothing during the day and reflective materials (or use a flashlight) at night.
• Look left-right-left before crossing a street.

Funding for this program is provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

For additional information please contact:
Sergeant Mike Brown
Patrol Division, Traffic Unit
Santa Barbara Police Department
Office: 805-897-3720
Fax: 805-897-2434

Friday, July 22, 2016

To Motor Home Owners:                                                                                   26 July 16
The Santa Barbara City Council may pass a law preventing you from parking your vehicle on city streets. The City Council is tentatively scheduled to vote on a ban of oversized vehicles on Tuesday, September 27 at 2 p.m., City Hall, 2nd floor.
Important points: There will be exemptions, such as commercial vehicles and RVs or vehicles with a disabled placard or handicapped license plates. Also, the City will adopt a definition of a vehicle that is too large. See the City Attorney’s proposed dimensions below:
“Oversized vehicle” means any vehicle, as that word is defined in state Vehicle Code Section 670, or a combination of connected vehicles, which exceeds twenty-five (25') feet in length, or eighty (80") inches in width, or eighty-two (82") inches in height, exclusive of such projecting lights or devices as are expressly allowed pursuant to the state Vehicle Code as it now exists or hereafter may be amended. Oversized vehicle shall not mean or include a pickup truck, which is less than twenty-five (25') feet in length and eighty-two (82") inches in height.
Worth Street Reach has organized a group called Wheels Liaison for residents who live in their Motor Homes – seeking you to join in a united voice asking the City to consider alternatives, such as expanding the Safe Parking Program, giving protection to people on the Safe Parking waiting list, allowing daytime parking for families and handicapped at the Carrillo Commuter Lot, Earl Warren Showgrounds and elsewhere.
We will ask the City to recognize Motor Homes as “emergency homes” providing shelter and safety with ability to stay off the streets while housing has been as low as .01%. We will ask the City to find sanctioned places for Motor Home owners to park overnight and during the day when our children go to school and we go to work.
People who live in their Motor Homes must unite and step up and speak to City Council members – either by meeting with them privately in their offices, or attending City Council meetings (before the September 27 hearing!) to make statements during the public comment period that begins at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays. The City Council meets on these upcoming Tuesdays: July 26, August 2, August 9, September 6, September 13, and September 20.
Wheels Liaison will help you write a statement. They are coordinating meetings with City Council members. It is important that policy makers know that you are good people who live, vote in, and work in Santa Barbara.
Please join our meetings and our email