A hit and miss with the El Cajon City Council

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I took a few days off last week after my son’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding held at Flynn Springs following an intimate reception at Mimi’s Café in Santee. It was an East County wedding and the weather cooperated with us to make it a life event that will never be forgotten.

I took a few days off last week after my son’s wedding. It was a beautiful wedding held at Flynn Springs following an intimate reception at Mimi’s Café in Santee. It was an East County wedding and the weather cooperated with us to make it a life event that will never be forgotten.

But in taking a few days off, I seemed to have missed a rambunctious El Cajon City County meeting that dealt with the Grand Jury report that recommended that the mayors and City Councils of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee initiate coordinated homelessness-related efforts to increase prevention, shelter, and transitional housing services in East County. It also recommended that they joining the Region Continuum of Care Council and participate in its work.

After reading reports from my fellow peers on the meeting, which seemed to focus more on the hearted discussion rather than the issue, it seems that El Cajon is missing the point. Although a response is required to the Grand Jury, that should not be the focus. The report does not say that these cities are doing nothing for the homeless population, but that it is not enough. That being said, the focus of the meeting should not have been a defensive argument of what the city is doing to help the homeless population in El Cajon, but what more can it do to help solve the situation. And yes, it comes with a price tag. Every single person that is taken off the street, given the opportunity to work and a stable place to live edifies the community at large and saves the city money in the long run. The cost of local police dealing with homeless is staggering, costing hundreds of thousands a year. Again, each person taken off the street can lessen the financial burden on the El Cajon Police Department and other local law enforcement agencies.

So instead of treating this as a high school student that believes they deserved a B grade rather than a C grade, the Council should be looking at what more it can do to help with the homeless population. The report indicated the many wonderful things that El Cajon does do, but indicates that it is not enough to meet the demand and the San Diego County guidelines. So I encourage not only El Cajon, but also our other incorporated cities to revisit this issue, not with offense and rebuttal, but rather with newer solutions and programs. Although it will cost, in the long run it will save. Would you rather spend hundreds of thousands a year dealing with the homeless problem or spend that money in helping the homeless issue? It seems obvious which one is a more productive use of city funds. With a majority of these cities having unincorporated areas, the burden does not fall only on the cities, but the San Diego County law enforcement and Board of Supervisors.

The El Cajon City Council also rejected a Citizens Commission to be founded to independently investigate complaints against the Police Department. I am happy they adopted the use of body cameras, but this rejection is foolish. El Cajon has had its own scandals and internal turmoil within the Police Department over the past couple of years and by rejecting this recommendation does nothing but diminish the trust of El Cajon citizens in its own law enforcement. This is another item that the City Council needs to revisit. In the current days where the mistrust of police is so rampant that people are retaliating against the police, you need all of the back up that you can have and an independent Citizens Commission can help build the local trust so that we do not face the extreme problems that we are seeing almost nightly on national news. If you have nothing to hide, then this should be a no brainer.

Look, even city council members are human and many times react to a situation. That is fine, and that is a part of democracy. But stop rejecting and start acting. Both of these issues are important to the community and rejecting them only adds fuel to misconception and distrust.

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