Restless residents demand solution to city’s crime crisis

A crowd of Susanville residents attended the Wednesday, Jan. 15 Susanville City Council meeting demanding a response to the many crime problems in town caused by people they believe are homeless.

Several residents expressed both their concerns and their frustrations during the business from the floor portion of the meeting — essentially public comment. Because the item was not agendized, most of the councilmembers were unable to respond, and because of the provisions of the Brown Act, California’s open meeting law, the council may not take action on unagendized items. The council agreed to add the item to its upcoming agendas.

A special joint meeting of the board of supervisors and the city council to address the homeless issue is in the works, but the time, date and location of that special meeting is expected to be announced at today’s board of supervisor’s meeting.

Rudy Valentine, a local businessman, led the charge, asking the council what’s being done to resolve the problems caused by the homeless and “tweakers, I’d guess you’d call them.”

Valentine said in the last 18 months his vehicle has been stolen twice, his mail has been stolen many times, his wife has been assaulted, his buildings have been broken into and he’s had three physical altercations, the last one three days ago.

When a councilmember asked Valentine if he’d reported these incidents, he said he was advised, “Rudy, why don’t you handle it yourself?”

He said in the last confrontation, the man pulled a knife on him. While Valentine, a mixed martial arts instructor and former high school wrestling coach, said he is able to take care of himself, he wondered what would have happened to a less capable individual.

“That’s kinda why I’m here … I’m worried about people,” Valentine said. “I need to know what we’re going to do about it. They’re camping at the river, they’re breaking into homes, they’re finding empty buildings, a house was burned down the other day.”

He also wondered about hypodermic needles and toxic waste in the Susan River. Valentine said he moved to Susanville from the city 30 years ago to get away from this kind of stuff.

Lance Lively, volunteer president of the Susanville Little League, said much of the organization’s budget has gone to repairing damage caused by vagrants, and volunteers have found syringes and human waste in the dugouts. Lively asked the council to agendize a possible change of venue for Little League — from its current location by the Susan River to the Sierra Street property owned by the city.

Russell Bates, a successful business owner who admitted he was a “graduate” of Crossroads, thanked the council for listening, but he suggested most of the people committing crimes have homes, and they commit crimes to get items to sell to buy or trade for drugs. He said he believes the strong have to protect the weak.

“You guys are the strength, and we’re looking to you guys for a solution,” he said. “The majority of the homeless people have mental issues.”

Valentine promised the council he would gather the public to support his cause and return enmass at the next meeting.

Clearly, the natives are restless, and they want solutions now. If you have anything to say about crime and homelessness in Lassen County, you’ll want to attend the upcoming special meeting between the supervisors and the city council.