EDITORíS DESK: The wildland transient interface
We don't all see things the same way (obviously). Some people, in reading about the transient campsite fire in this edition of the Westside Pioneer, may spontaneously feel hot tears of compassion running down their cheeks as they contemplate the heartless world that could lead people to such a state. Whose fault
was the fire? Does it matter? (A compassion-filled person thinks.) The important point is that whoever lived there evidently lost everything and now stands in need somewhere. And here I am with a house, a car, an iPod and so much more. As soon as these hot tears stop blinding my eyes, I'll hurry down to Naegele
and 25th with a goody bag for those poor, poor victims.
OK, I'll admit it, I have a slightly different viewpoint. My first reaction to seeing that fire, as it threatened to kindle into Big Fire Number 3 (numbers 1 and 2 of course being Waldo Canyon and Black Forest), was why hadn't that camp been cleared out already? With the government lecturing us everyday citizens about fire-mitigating and respecting the wildland urban interface, why is such a clear threat to our community allowed to thrive on public land? Beyond that, the squalor is appalling. Random paraphernalia lying all over (probably still there, if you want to see for yourself). Two shopping carts. And that baby stroller but no baby items. Hmm, hasn't there been some panhandler in recent years using a stroller as a prop, to help her look properly beseeching at shopping-center curb cuts for morally conflicted motorists?
You say I'm being too cynical, you with the hot tears? The fact is, the story I wrote left out the worst of the problem. It was supposed to be about the fire, but I actually got more than I bargained for in talking to Gold Hill Police Commander Pat Rigdon. As reported, police really do try to enforce the city's no- camping ordinance and yes, the furtive "cowboy" campers are part of the problem. But Rigdon also pointed out that several of the campers are sexually violent predators. In a kind of Catch 22, police can only bust them for illegal camping if alternate legal housing is available. But it often isn't for SVPs. So they're allowed to remain in our public places, buddying up around campfires with others working the system, many of them with drug, alcohol and/or mental issues. Still want to run teary-eyed with your goody bag down to Naegele and 25th?