Santee: The Lone Absenter

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Santee: The Lone Absenter

In my story today, I mentioned that the county and all of its cities except Santee had supported the work of the United Way and others to develop the regional Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. That plan’s development officially began in 2004 and was adopted by the San Diego City Council in October 2006.

I thought I’d check in with Randy Voepel, Santee’s mayor, to find out why his city abstained from endorsing the plan’s development. He said he’s unabashed about his aversion to funding homeless services, though he said his city does give some of its grant allocation to Neighborhood House, a local nonprofit agency.

“For all the money we spend on homeless services, you’d probably be better off writing them a check,” he said this afternoon.

And he said taking care of the region’s homeless population is not Santee’s problem.

“Basically we don’t have a homeless problem (in Santee), except down by the river, and those people are camped illegally and destroying the environment,” he said. “I’m not a homeless advocate in any way, shape or form.”

Voepel said he’d received very few complaints from his constituents on Santee’s abstention from supporting the plan I wrote about today.

“I believe that the more homeless programs we fund in Southern California, the more people come here and be homeless,” said the man who refers to his city as the La Jolla of East County. “I have a very hard-nosed viewpoint, a very conservative viewpoint. Some people say it’s very un-Christian, but I am a Christian.”

And he didn’t stop there, though that was all I’d asked for. Voepel pulled out a lecture on global warming: He’s for it.

Global warming is good, Voepel argued, because “our enemies are on the Equator” — (it’s good when they fry) — and warmer weather gives the region warm days in November like today, and better access to crops from Canada and Alaska.

He said he’s used to articulating the contrarian view on these issues. He’s the wind society needs to keep the sailboat from veering too far to the left, he said.

KELLY BENNETT
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