Menifee Mayor Scott Mann Clarifies Position on Homelessness

Editor's note: The following is a letter from Menifee Mayor Scott Mann to members of the Interfaith and Community Service Council. Mann ...

Editor's note: The following is a letter from Menifee Mayor Scott Mann to members of the Interfaith and Community Service Council. Mann shared this with Menifee 24/7 in an attempt to clarify for our readers his position on homelessness. Recently, the Menifee City Council unanimously approved a letter of opposition to Assembly Bill 5, which would increase homeless persons' rights in public places and require cities to provide 24-hour hygiene facilities. The Homeless Person's Bill of Rights and Fairness Act, introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), was introduced last December.

April 1, 2013
Menifee Interfaith and Community Service Council

RE: Mayor Scott Mann's Opposition to AB 5 (Ammiano, D-San Francisco)

Dear Chairwoman and Council,

This letter attempts to clarify my personal position on homelessness which, I feel, may be misunderstood in light of the City Council's decision to unanimously oppose AB 5. Let me be clear that the views expressed in this letter are mine, and mine alone. I have not changed the view I expressed on several occasions during the 2012 mayoral campaign and previously in the 2008 inaugural city council campaign: I am in favor of a homeless shelter in, or near, Menifee.

I am, however, opposed to AB 5 (Ammiano), the “Homeless Person's Bill of Rights and Fairness Act." The Los Angeles Times says “While we sympathize with its (AB 5's) spirit, we don't support it. The solution is not to sanction the culture of homelessness or to offer blanket approval for a way of life that society generally agrees should be ended." (1/11/13)

This bill, which even its author, Assembly Member Ammiano, concedes is "aspirational," would impose unfunded mandates upon cities while adding homelessness to a listing of protected classes. Under the bill, “life-sustaining activities that must be carried out in public spaces because of homelessness," such as eating, urinating, amassing possessions and collecting trash to recycle, would be protected. The bill is silent as to the rights of residents, businesses and taxpayers to clean streets and safe, habitable neighborhoods.

As a public official, I feel that I must be compassionate and responsible at the same time. Assembly Member Ammíano's bill takes the wrong approach -- one which is goodhearted toward the homeless and hardhearted towards the rest of the community simultaneously. Round-the-clock public bathrooms and the "basic human right" to panhandle alone have huge implications for local budgets and law enforcement. The costs of AB 5 have not yet been counted, but I feel confident the State of California will not appropriate funds to support mandates imposed on cities and counties.

For all of the reasons outlined above, I oppose AB 5. I do not oppose giving our homeless a ‘hand up' through faith-based organizations and non-profit service organizations. I am in favor of a homeless shelter, especially one that has mental health, drug and alcohol counseling, and job placement components to help restore individuals and families to safe, productive lives. I would work with you toward that goal.

Lastly, I would call your attention to the UT-Californian's recent editorial under their "Roses and Raspberries" column of April 1, 2013. Let's work together in the spirit of our several religions to try and help the unfortunate among us. Let's not make community vitality more difficult by imposing expensive, unfair legislation upon our cities and their residents.

Very respectfully yours,
Scott A. Mann
Mayor, City of Menifee