This is the third straight month that we’ve gone down the rabbit-hole created by “Howard” — the mentally ill, homeless individual who’s been creating havoc in the Grand Lake business district for a very long time. In this latest installment, we’re sorry to report that Urban Indigo is closing and moving to Castro Valley. Cynthia Bragdon, the owner, said that she could no longer tolerate his sleeping and defecating in their doorway, shoving trash through the mail slot and breaking windows.
The good news is that Alameda County Adult and Senior Adult Services responded to our concerns about Howard’s physical and mental health a couple of weeks ago. After confirming our concerns first hand, they had him re-hospitalized. Since they are obligated to respect patients’ confidentially, we won’t know his status until (or if) he returns to the neighborhood. If he isn’t placed in supportive housing where they make sure he’s taking his meds, Howard will continue to create havoc and cycle in and out of the system.
Unfortunately, there are other bad actors in the neighborhood and more bad news. Just after Howard was picked up, Abebe Lemma (the Lakeshore Security Guard) told me about a guy sitting in front of Peets who suddenly jumped up and started violently kicking occupied strollers in the crosswalk. I talked to an OPD officer adjacent to the Ken Betts Chevron station where this individual had been arrested. The officer told me that they were going to take him to the John George psychiatric hospital but there were no beds available. The same officer also reported that weeks before he had received a black eye while engaged in a scuffle with someone who was severely agitated. Although charged with assault, he was released from jail the next day.
In the near future, all such incidents should be handled by the MACRO team which operates under the aegis of the fire department. For the time being, however, there aren’t nearly enough hospital beds available for assessment and treatment and the same can be said, for supportive housing once the patient is stabilized.
The current alternative as spelled out in this LA Times September 14 article is that individuals who are declared incompetent to stand trial languish in jail for months or even years. One way or the other, we have to do whatever is necessary to compassionately resolve the mental health crisis. If not for them, do it for ourselves.
On a happier note, here’s a poll designed specifically for long-time neighborhood residents? Which of the following businesses do you remember? Can you identify the current tenant? Would you like to share some fond memories?
- The Ice Creamery
- Sees Candies
- Ace Hardware’s original location
- Charlie’s Smoke Shop
- The Beehive Thrift Shop
- Dime and Dollar
- A Topless Bar in the early 70’s. Bonus points for each of the businesses that later occupied that space.