“I suspect there will be some objections to Divine Spark’s program” to provide a free lunch for homeless people for seven days a week instead of five at the Nevada City Vet’s Hall, I warned this past weekend, knowing my town exceedingly well.
“No (fill in the blank) Sherlock!”
Amid a legion of residents and merchants who showed up to protest, the Nevada City Council on Wednesday unanimously rejected a request by Divine Spark to go ahead with its program.
In fact, they took steps that could lead to booting Divine Spark out of the Vet’s Hall all together — perhaps sending them to the Armory building instead. The city’s lease with the nonprofit for the homeless is going to be explored.
Neighbors protested about the “unintended consequences” of the lunches that had turned their neighborhood into “skid row,” as one agitated neighbor put it. They complained about smelly trash, loitering and people who felt unsafe. The resale value of homes was brought up in the discussion. They brought photographs of the offending parties along with them.
Divine Spark’s leader Thomas Streicher did not show up, and his replacement was accused of being a “front man.”
It was a raucous — and sometimes ugly — debate, with the “front man” for Divine Spark (a low-key fellow) bearing much of it. He just sat there and took copious notes.
This is only the latest example of the sanctity of neighborhoods coming under fire: Whether to ban B&B’s from residential neighborhoods also was discussed earlier in the night (an issue that met our local newspaper’s print deadline — this one didn’t). On that one, the Council kicked it back to the Planning Commission for further consideration. Then it will return to the Council.
As for previous examples, I recall issues of opening a hair salon in an “R1″ neighborhood. Or the ongoing one of the liquor store masquerading as a Chevron station in town that also creates some “unintended consequences” for the neighbors. What city council voted to approve that one? You see, many of us are guilty on this front, not just a few.
One issue that didn’t come up at last night’s meeting is that the odds of unintended consequences in your neighborhood go up markedly when you choose to buy a home that is next to a Vet’s Hall or more recently, a big parking lot. It’s a fact of life.
All told, I’m reminded that Robert Frost provided some sage advice back in 1914: “Good fences make good neighbors.” And that was the New England countryside, no less.
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