Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 8:48 am | Fog/Mist 51º

 
 
 
 

Goleta Grapples with Homeless Challenges of Its Own

In wake of Camino Real Marketplace shooting, businesses keeping closer watch on transient panhandlers

Six weeks ago, Goleta had a worst-case scenario of aggressive panhandling: A transient allegedly shot two people with a high-powered pellet air-gun when his demands for money were rebuffed during a confrontation at Camino Real Marketplace.

Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies caught up with the suspect, 42-year-old Charles Quinn, in a vacant lot across Hollister Avenue from the shopping center. In an exchange of gunfire on a bustling Saturday afternoon, the suspect hit two of the three deputies, who then shot him four times.

Quinn was hospitalized for several weeks as a result of his wounds and the deputies were treated and released, then placed on administrative leave while the incident was under investigation. Quinn has been charged with 17 felony and misdemeanor counts.

Camino Real Marketplace has a consistent presence of homeless people and transients on the 54-acre property at the corner of Hollister and Storke Road. The private shopping center has a specific enforcement policy in place: call on-site property manager Mark Ingalls, who is summoned by tenants throughout the day — every day — to confront people and ask them to move along.

The Goleta Police Department, which is operated by the Sheriff’s Department under a contract with the city, has a substation at Camino Real Marketplace, but Ingalls’ method is to only get law enforcement involved as a last resort.

Although he’s used to approaching transients who are holding signs, asking people for money, chaining their luggage to bike racks or camping out in the landscaping, the violence of the Jan. 15 incident was — and still is — a big shock.

“It’s a daily, daily task for us here,” Ingalls said. “And now, I’m a little apprehensive of approaching — in light of what happened — those people with the same confidence that I can rationalize with them, and be kind and courteous and ask for their cooperation. I mean, I’ve got a family. It could happen. And I never thought about that, it was never in my mind … Now it is.”

Most commonly, people hold signs near the “money spot” at the shopping center’s exit to Storke Road and they spend the rest of their time camped out somewhere nearby. With about 15,000 visitors a day, the marketplace is rich with opportunity.

Angel Lopez, a member of Camino Real Marketplace’s maintenance and grounds staff, knows the long-timers well, but even when new ones replace them, mannerisms are often the same. Sometimes groups of people ask for money together, each taking turns one-by-one holding a sign while the rest “hang out,” he said.

Ingalls said he was disappointed that neither the city nor authorities contacted him about the shooting on his company’s property. He said he only heard about it the next day from a tenant.

“It isn’t what happens, it’s what you do about it, I think, that really qualifies leadership of the city and policymakers,” he said. “I think there’s been a real absence of dialogue and action.”

Ingalls’ concerns are well-known to the city, as he has been meeting with city staff on the issue of homeless and transient panhandling and camping for years, he said.

“We shouldn’t be in reactionary mode, we should be dealing with this proactively,” he said. “I think it deserves some discussion. It’s not a debate, but no action is not the action either.”

Camino Real Marketplace will also soon have “code of conduct” signs posted on the property to clearly articulate the rules of the center and help enforcement efforts.

“It’s not a result of the incident, but something we want to follow through with,” Ingalls said.

Most people already comply, he was quick to add.

Some behavior prohibited on the private property includes disorderly conduct, such as yelling or throwing objects; skateboarding, rollerblading or obstructing pedestrian traffic; littering; defacing property; possession or consumption of alcohol, illegal drugs or other controlled substances; and loitering.

Nearby, University Village Plaza, 7127 Hollister Ave., doesn’t have on-site management but does have daily grounds staff and merchants with initiative who call law enforcement when they need to.

“I’m just so grateful that we’ve never had any problems with violence,” said Betty Jeppesen of Islay Investments, the shopping center’s property manager.

Although it’s probably never been used, there is an arrest letter on file so deputies have the authority to arrest people on the plaza’s private property.

“To my knowledge, we don’t even have panhandlers,” Jeppesen said. “We have a terrific response from the Sheriff’s Department to get them to move along and a great group of tenants who help report it.”

What The Plaza does have is sleeping, loitering and the occasional odd use of shopping center resources.

“There were a couple of outlets not in use (on the outside wall of Albertsons) and the homeless were charging their cell phones there,” Jeppesen said. “The manager said they would sit there and wait for their cell phone to be charged up, causing an annoyance, so we put a cover over it and locked it. Things like that are a surprise.”

Most of the South Coast’s services for the homeless — including shelters, warming centers and community kitchens — are in Santa Barbara, although they serve the entire region.

Goleta Police Chief Butch Arnoldi said he can count on one hand the officer-related shootings during his 37 years on the South Coast. He said panhandling enforcement is based off citizen complaints — unlike in Santa Barbara, where there are no panhandling-specific ordinances but incidents are reported and responded to just the same. 

Within an hour of the Camino Real Marketplace shooting, Arnoldi notified Goleta municipal staff and the City Council, according to Councilman Roger Aceves. While there was a public safety meeting, he said, there was no council discussion of increased enforcement efforts for panhandlers.

Aceves’ 30 years of law enforcement experience with the Sheriff’s and Santa Barbara Police departments has made him a valuable resource on the council, and the police are about to help implement his newest suggestion.

“One thing I’m encouraging (Arnoldi) to do is a business watch program similar to a neighborhood watch program at all our shopping centers so when there’s an incident, they’ll have basically a communication tree by e-mail or Web site or something to tell each other of incidents,” Aceves said.

“It can be a bad check, a panhandler or a shoplifter, but it’s just a way to keep them all in the same loop.”

The program will be headed by community resource Deputy Greg Sorenson and will be launched soon. Authorities have already held meetings with various shopping centers in the Goleta area.

“We have a very involved community and they really love that the number of neighborhood watches went up,” Aceves said. “I’ve been to many meetings and it’s really how we leverage our limited resources to have our neighbors talk to each other and be alert when things are happening.”

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >