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MADELINE LETCHFORD, Dana Point
In September 2008, Dana Point Times published an article with this quote regarding the Welcome Inn/ACLU win against Doheny State Beach. “The settlement will allow the service organization to feed their guests as long as they follow park rules that apply to everyone. ‘We’re elated,” said Jim Seiler, Welcome Inn’s treasurer and founding president. ‘Now for the first time in 20 years we will not be impacting schools, residents, daycare centers—simply those that come into the park.’ He said there’s often fear in the community that the group will grow out of hand. ‘Our group size has not changed in 20 years,’ he said.” This is no longer true, if it ever was. The feed is clearly impacting many people, but it’s falling on deaf ears by the Welcome Inn organizers. A new residential complex is nearly complete across the street from Doheny State Beach. There are daycare centers within walking distance. There are businesses, restaurants and parks impacted. The people who are eating at the feed don’t stay there. They leave and go off to do the very things that have left them in the troubled situation they are in. There is true delusion about the domino effect of problems after the Welcome Inn servers go back home; homes that are far away from the feeding zone. Homeless numbers have increased in Orange County significantly, and have been well documented during the recent Anaheim riverbed fiasco. Part II crimes were up in Dana Point 27 percent over 2016—mostly in narcotics violations and vandalism, according to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department database. Calls for service were up 11 percent over the prior year and averaged 2.6 per hour versus 1.8 per hour five years ago. The homeless have been living on the roof at the public library. They are breaking into homes, sometimes naked. They’re using community park bathrooms for drug abuse and, sometimes blatantly, at bus stops. They dominate tables and the limited fire pits at the south end of Doheny State Beach for the majority of the days, usually intoxicated, waiting to be fed. It’s apparent to anyone that is watching that the number of meal recipients is increasing at the Welcome Inn feed. Not in my backyard? Yes, NIMBY. I care deeply about what’s going on in town, and who is doing what to help it or hurt it.