We've poked a bit at the Kennedy family in this review of NIMBYism, especially for their opposition to the Nantucket Sound wind farm off Cape Cod in Massachusetts. It's the sort of proposal Kennedys ought to be for; when it impinges on the seaward view from Hyannis Port, another viewpoint emerges.
So it's a pleasure to report that a continent away in the Pacific seaside city of Santa Monica, Calif., a Kennedy recently elected to the City Council is trying to make a difference. This activist is Bobby Shriver [click here for a photo of the City Council; you'll spot him instantly in the back row, second from the left]. He's the nephew of JFK and RFK and Sen. Ted Kennedy, the son of Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver, the brother of California First Lady Maria Shriver, and, of course, the brother-in-law of California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Shriver is trying to tackle the mission of providing services, somehow, to Santa Monica's large population of homeless residents. His thought: a regional L.A.-area plan to serve the homeless -- a topic many Southern California communities would just as soon forget. (Click here for an earlier NIMBY Monitor article on that subject.)
It's an idea that is meeting with resistence, the Los Angeles Times reported on May 17, 2005.
But Bobby Shriver is persisting. He's traveled to San Francisco and elsewhere in California to study homeless services that work, the L.A. Times reported in an article by Martha Groves.
The Times reported that NIMBYism plays a strong if not overbearing role in Southern California policy on the homeless (or, perhaps, the avoidance of policy). Indeed, some LA communities are reputed to be taking "Not In My Back Yard" literally by physically exporting their problems. Read this excerpt:
Despite hefty investments of time and money to curb homelessness, the seaside community [of Santa Monica] remains a haven for hundreds of individuals who daily set up cardboard shelters or sleeping bags in parks and on sidewalks.
Shriver's mission statement is this: The city must consider new ideas and embrace a regional approach to solving this seemingly intractable problem.
"Let's try something new," Shriver said. "If it doesn't work, it doesn't work. The one thing we all know is the citizens in the street don't think we're doing a good job."
Julie Rusk, Santa Monica's human services manager, said that despite public frustration, the city has been making progress on the homelessness problem.
"Hundreds of people have been helped," she said.
But Rusk acknowledges that a solution has proved elusive, given the region's "challenging political structure," the lack of funding, a dearth of housing and rampant NIMBY-ism.
Many communities in the region have typically resisted adding homeless facilities and services. Because of a zoning issue, Los Angeles recently squelched a plan to locate an urgent care center serving the mentally ill near Brotman Medical Center on Venice Boulevard, on the border between Los Angeles and Culver City.
Santa Monica officials have long suspected that police in Beverly Hills and other communities give homeless people bus fare and point them toward their city.