Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – June 9, 2021

No more prophetic words that appeared on a sign carried by a protester
to the intention of the County’s Board of Supervisor’s to allow DHHS to
purchase the Coastal Inns and Suites located at 665 L Street for the
purpose of converting the motel to permanent housing for the County’s
homeless.  At the time the City was encouraged to object to this action,
instead sat on their collective hands.  Nothing to see here folks.  Just
a future blight in the middle of town, nothing to see here folks.  It
wasn’t but a few months before the first major event occurred at the
“homeless shelter” where City police arrested an armed drug dealer. 
Perhaps it was at that point that the City’s police chief knew he had a
problem that was only going to get worse.

We were told at the time that it was already being utilized as temporary
shelter for DHHS clients by Director Heather Snow.  We were to learn
further that it was currently housing 43 occupants which represented 26%
of the County’s homeless.  Since Director Snow is only the head of DHHS
and her office directly deals with the many problems of the homeless it
shouldn’t be much of a surprise when others in the Community that
actually have contact with the County’s homeless report a much higher
count, 400 to 500. Naturally, at the time when it was pointed out that
the Coastal Inns and Suites as a homeless shelter in downtown Crescent
City was a terrible idea, both the leadership in the County and the City
went ahead without so much as a care in the world.

After a grand total of eight months as the County’s permanent “homeless
shelter”, Police Chief Richard Griffin of the City had a slightly different
take on the decision.  In a report to the City Council, Chief Griffin
reported that in 2019 the police were called to the Coastal Inns and
Suites a mere 71 times.  In 2020 that figure jumped to 194 times.  In
2021 the count is at 96, with the Chief’s staff reporting that the
department could conceivably see well over 200 calls to that location. 
Businesses in the area report increased drug use, petty crime, and theft
on the rise.  No surprise there.   The stated intent by Director Snow’s
department is to provide kitchen facilities in the units for food
preparation, and maybe a little meth on the side.   Fire insurance
anybody?  Currently several of the units are vacant as work progresses
on making kitchens a reality.  And the money for this comes from where?

It is not often that such blatant disregard for common sense comes into
play so rapidly.   While the City leaders did nothing to halt this clear
disaster in the making, both Director Snow and the County’s Supervisors
can’t seem to get out of the way of this train wreck.  It simply does
not matter if the police and the residents of Coastal Inns and Suites
“get along”, it will not eliminate the growing possibility of a major
catastrophe.  Crime, incident reports and the indifference by the Del
Norte Sheriff’s Office  will likely continue on the path forward.  The
City Council will have to pay for the mistake of not doing something
about the problem when they could have.  Chalk another one up for our
illustrious Mayor at the time, Blake Inscore.   It is curious that the
City’s residents are still “Okay” with this behavior within the City’s

4 thoughts on “Heather Snow’s Future Vacant Lot”
  1. Great Answer SAM … Heather Snow has no business running a Homeless Shelter she has absolutely no EXPERIENCE when it was purchased by the County … now we are all seeing the RAMIFICATIONS of her Decision! Plus I would like to understand how many bids did she obtain to build the Kitchens and where is she getting all the appliances? Is she getting a Deal because of the number of kitchens would be getting Kitchens! This is another situation that is going to be a major headache for the County because it wasn’t handled properly!

  2. We don’t have to look any further than former supervisor Cowan, Howard, and Hemmingsen that allows Heather Snow to make horrendous financial decisions and get away with it.

    First the county paid for her $168,000 indiscretion when suddenly she wanted to move out of a building where she herself signed a 10 year lease without an escape clause. Where was County Council during that fiasco?

    Then she wanted to move the child support division and rent from Hartwick who had child molestation case filed against him but got out of it because of time constraints.

    Finally a $2.8 million dollar purchase of a hotel for 30-46 people out of 500. Really? People of this county don’t have to look any further than the people they place in office. Don’t you think it is time to make a change? Hemmingsen has been in office for 20 years Chris Howard 8 years. We got rid of Cowan. Time for new blood.

  3. The situation is worse than this article states. Drug use is rampant, bad behavior is allowed, and Del Norte County Health & Human Services is its usual incompetent self.
    If you have not watched the Board Meeting where this mess all started, take a look at
    The first hint that this was not going to work out well came during the public comments on the program when someone asked what policies and procedures the Del Norte County Health & Human Services had in place to guide the program. This question was ignored by both the Board and Del Norte County Health & Human Services. Why? Because they did not have any policies and procedures in place (and if they do now, they are either not being followed or are very flawed).
    The next hint was during the meeting when Del Norte County Health & Human Services Director Snow could not clarify if the project is a “Homeless Shelter”, a “Transitional Shelter” or “Permanent Housing”.
    That was in October of 2020. Six months later do we know (does Del Norte County Health & Human Services know?), the answer to that question?
    When you challenge Del Norte County Health & Human Services on their incompetence, they will blame the State and sight “Housing First” regulations as being the problem. If this is the case, why was this issue not brought up at the Board meeting? Why have there been no solutions surfaced to deal with these problems?
    Those that worried about the negative impact of a “Homeless Shelter” have been given proof that they were right. While I support the idea of dealing with homelessness in our county, I cannot support Del Norte County Health & Human Services’ incompetence as they are making a bad situation worse.
    Time to pull this project away from Del Norte County Health & Human Services and find an organization that is more competent to run it.

    1. You will very rarely solve homelessness in the form most locality’s offer it. Most people do not place the same value on something that they themselves have no investment in. This offering by DHHS does not have the same kind of value for the homeless that a home they own or invest in some way, hence it will be treated in the way this property will be treated and is being treated. People like Heather Snow have no real understanding of human nature and should not be in charge of formulating programs like this one until she learns what she is dealing with. That is if it is even possible.

      There is a point where even stupid doesn’t get it. As for having some other entity take over the program, good luck with that. Plus it would very likely result in the same kind of operation because it would very likely be subject to the same kind of issues that result in homelessness in the first place.

      Homelessness for some has become a way of life and as long as this life style can be sustained it will continue. It then becomes the sustaining part that has to change. Most people who confront homelessness do not understand this and try to inject themselves into that dynamic likely prolonging the state of homelessness indefinitely.

      A homeless person will most likely continue to be homeless as long as they are “given” the “tools” to continue to be so. Take away the “tools” and the dynamic changes as well as the behavior.

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