Temecula council tackles panhandling as concerns escalate over homelessness


The Temecula City Council approved an ordinance that will ban aggressive solicitation throughout the city of Temecula. Shane Gibson photo
The Temecula City Council approved an ordinance that will ban aggressive solicitation throughout the city of Temecula. Shane Gibson photo

Tougher rules governing panhandling and loitering were recently approved by Temecula’s council as a way to curb the impacts of homelessness.

That action – along with stepped-up work by an alliance of agencies and local governments – heightened the city’s focus on what it calls a “pressing regional concern.”

The problem of aggressive panhandling was described at the Oct. 11 council meeting as “extremely disturbing and disruptive to residents and businesses.” That has led to, according to a staff report, “an enhanced sense of fear, intimidation and disorder” in the city.

Those steps followed an August vote to ban overnight parking in key lots that are owned or controlled by Temecula. Those actions came two years after the city joined its largest church and a decades-old nonprofit group in targeting the nettlesome problem of homelessness.

At that time, Temecula officials worried that the city risked becoming “a magnet” for transients from Riverside or elsewhere who seek social services that are not available in their areas.

Council members called for a public awareness program that would discourage residents from giving money to panhandlers.

At the recent hearing, council members cited the need for compassion as they develop additional strategies and seek the involvement of store owners and other businesses. No audience members spoke on the issue.

The panhandling and loitering ordinance – which will enable police to cite offenders – was described by city officials as “another tool for our toolbox.”

The ordinance covers panhandling on or near road medians, parking lots, bus stops, gas stations, banks and automated teller machines and businesses and their driveways.

The ordinance was patterned after similar measures enacted by the cities of Riverside, Jurupa Valley and Paso Robles. Steps were taken to protect the right to free speech, city officials said in their report to the council.

A companion action by the Temecula council focused on a resolution drafted by the Regional Homeless Alliance, which had its first meeting in December 2015. That effort calls for an “innovative, comprehensive strategy for solving homelessness” in Temecula, Murrieta, Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Wildomar.

The coalition’s five goals include monthly discussions on the issues, creating a care network and identifying funding sources for regional services.

Lake Elsinore leads those five cities in the number of unsheltered homeless residents with 53, according to a count conducted Jan. 26. Temecula was next with 37, followed by Menifee with 20 and Wildomar with 13. No unsheltered residents were spotted in Murrieta during that one-day count.

Those tallies showed slight change over 2015. A 2009 spot check of homeless in the Temecula area netted about eight people who were living in vehicles, tents or other temporary structures, many of them located along Murrieta or Temecula creeks.

In 2005, the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development began requiring such homeless “census” reports from counties that seek funding.

In 2015, Riverside County and the city of Riverside split $9.3 million from the federal government’s housing support program.

The city of Riverside has consistently led the county in unsheltered homeless residents. Several programs are being considered there. An Oct. 11 workshop on the issue brought together government officials, residents, business owners and social services providers.

The 2016 count totaled 258 unsheltered residents in the city of Riverside. The city of Jurupa Valley was the second highest in the county with 113. Hemet was third with 107.

The countywide tally showed a 15 percent decline in unsheltered homeless people compared to last year with a total count of 1,351, according to a 62-page report released in May. A large share of those counted were men from 50 to 61 years old. Many of them identified themselves as chronically homeless, dependent on alcohol or drugs or recently released from incarceration.

10 Responses to "Temecula council tackles panhandling as concerns escalate over homelessness"

  1. Jennifer   October 21, 2016 at 11:01 pm

    The city council might want to do their homework on a lady named Anne Unmachte. Under the guise of “Project Touch.” Anne came to Temecula over 6 years ago with the sole purpose of making it a hub for the homeless. She did this so she could get funded for a homeless shelter here in Temecula. She bused them in from other cities and the set all of them in a church, called Fusion. That place got shut down due to city codes in regards to not enough showers in the facility. Then she went to apartments and housed 4 to 6 people at a time in rooms. Crime went up in several of the locations. Sage Canyon in particular…she had over 20 units there. Thankfully they just shut her down. Now she is working on getting funded for a homeless shelter in Murrieta. People need to wake up! She is creating the problem and then asking for donors to fund this mess. It’s all rigged. I wish someone would put a stop to her shenanigans. It’s creating a real problem here in our beautiful city!!

    • Linda McDonald   October 30, 2016 at 11:25 pm

      You DO realize that our city council, Mike Naggar at the helm, legalized any and all homeowners ability to be paid by the government for taking in ex-criminals, homeless, and mentally ill, who otherwise would be homeless dont you? I know, because I was at that meeting, when the majority in the audience asked for a “townhall” style meeting where the ramifications of this bill (I forgot the number of it!) could be gone over and questions asked, and he adamantly opposed that stating “This WAS your town hall meeting”! and approved it right then. I had NEVER heard of this until that very night, over a year ago now, and I’d be willing to bet most of the citizens in this city have no idea either that it is now law in all our neighborhoods here.

  2. Ed   October 22, 2016 at 11:07 am

    Time to implement a UBI (Universal basic income) The 1% can afford it. That would eliminate so much government social services.

    • Linda McDonald   October 30, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Sounds good to me, I know it works for the native Americans, Pechanga tribe does quite well I believe, unfortunately most of them simply squander what they don’t have to earn themselves don’t they? I believe the UBI WOULD BE just another goverment social service actually though, how else would you implement it?

  3. Linaja Lambeth   October 25, 2016 at 7:24 am

    Ann has been importing homeless to Temecula for Six years from Los Angeles, from Riverside, from local carnivals that blow through town. She enables turkeys to get out of the rain in the winter and deal drugs while in the Extended Stay winter shelter. No storage, no lap tops, no resources whatsoever. Young ladies are admitted and CPS proceeds to kidnap their children. Brother Randy means well…but the importation of homeless to Temecula Must Stop. If you fostered a kid and put that kid on aderol…you fostered and created a drug addict. Your responsibility is to feed that unfortunate child’s addiction. Send cash to them somehow. Finally show them the love of Christ….Not the boot at 18. Church, this is your mess. Grow hearts of compassion. Quit sending people to the welfare office. God is not pleased and the poor are a test that you are all failing. Tin hearted men and women ….I have no cash…Will not fly as an excuse. You want the homeless disappear? Give them a five dollar bill….they will smile and disappear.

  4. Linda McDonald   October 30, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    Normally, people in need, homeless, etc. do not bother me when in need, I am happy to share what little I have with them but this last week, AFTER this article came out, I experienced something quite different at parking lots here in Temecula. The first encounter took place in the Sprouts parking lot on Hwy. 79 S. A woman wearing a long skirt, head covered, and pushing a child in a stroller was right next to my car as I got out asking for money, I looked around only to see ANOTHER woman dressed similarly, also pushing a baby in a stroller looking for somebody to also ask for money from I assumed. I went inside and told an employee about it and suggested they contact the police since that is what we’ve been told we should do. Whether they did or not I have no idea. Two days later, I’m getting out of my car at the Wal-mart center on Hwy 79S, another woman, dressed similarly, pushing a stroller with a young child/baby in it came up and asked for money (note: these women have heavy accents, possibly Russian, light skinned though, not middle eastern) and I could barely get out of my car because of her agressiveness. Again, I looked around and lo and behold there was another one just like her, pushing a stroller about two rows over. I decided I needed to take action. I called the police myself, reported what was happening, then went inside to shop. Whether they ever came I don’t know, but I spoke to the Asst. Manager who stated that they were aware of these women, had asked them to leave previously, and had also called the police but had no response, so three of these employees went out themselves and I assume, got rid of these women. My major concern here is that this is not the “typical” homeless person pan handling, these women looked well taken care of and the fact that they had babies in strollers was a little unnerving to me. The next day I called the police department directly myself and spoke to a Sgt. Christaolon (hope I spelled that right), he said he knew nothing about what had been going on with these women over there and would “cruise” through and check it out. I told him if those women are there and just waiting for you, I’d be very surprised, as soon as they see a black and white cruising through the parking lot they’ll vanish. I believe this situation really really needs to be looked into, I think there is somebody “behind” this and the police need to do a full investigation, otherwise there will be MORE of these women and they will just move from one parking lot to the next.

  5. Linaja Lambeth   December 1, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Sounds like something only an illegal muslim. The dumb a** lazy man sends the wife and kids out because he’s chicken sh** and too lazy to work. It’s also reminiscent of when they used women and children as human shields. Shameless and wicked.

  6. Paula Almquist   December 17, 2016 at 11:14 am

    I was at the Temecula mall a couple of days ago. As I approached the Apple Store, a lady distracted me while I was talking on my phone and asked for money. My response was simply: “Get out of here!”

  7. John H.   July 28, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Why is there a group of homeless people hanging out in the red hawk town center off Margarita/temecula parkway in the parking lot of kohl’s? They are there every day, same spot with their shopping carts on their sides using them as chairs. I have complained to Kimco Property Management, I have spoken to Kohl’s management and yet nothing happens. I drive right by that spot and they are literally there in the same spot of kohl’s everyday. No one collects the shopping carts, I never see one sheriff from Riverside talking to them, now I am seeing POS motorhomes and people living out of their cars in the same area of the parking lot. Why isn’t Walmart, Kohl’s and these other retailers collecting their shopping carts? Everyone seems to just pass the buck onto someone else.

  8. KIM R   October 29, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    John H why don’t you just mind your own business. Do your shopping and leave. Simple. Or you can start drama because you have nothing else to do. It’s really simple stupid.


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