How much are you willing to give up so the city can defend its effort to prevent the homeless from sitting or lying on sidewalks?
How much of the city’s character would you sacrifice to spare visitors the embarrassment of discovering that even in our cute mountain town, we also have a few people who for one reason or another have nowhere else to go?
Would you give it all up?
Would you throw good money after bad, kill the goose that lays the golden egg and flaunt all other known folk wisdom?
Because that is what City Council is moving to do. It is proposing to continue and enforce a hitherto unenforced ban on sandwich board signs.
You’ve seen them. You can’t stroll Main Avenue without catching sight of their welcome and whimsy – that big Crossroads Coffee cup touting a Sassy Polar Bear; the sign for Durango Animal Chiropractic, which always makes us smile imagining a golden retriever getting a nice massage; the Cream Bean Berry board informing you that you could be eating vegan cinnamon ice cream right now if you like that sort of thing; the bizarrely painted cow sculpture in front of The Mac Ranch, of which we’ve grown inexplicably fond.
If the city’s anti-homeless forces have their way, all must be gone by April 3. Yes, even the peculiar cow.
Why? Because in order for the city anti-homeless crusade to maintain that people with nowhere else to go are not merely unfortunate but are an obstruction and must be removed it is going to remove anything else on our sidewalks that is not a sheltered person with disposable income – and who knows if it will end there.
It is just as though the city dug itself into a hole and then, not finding daylight, it determined to keep digging and to put a fence around the hole.
It is the mindset that kept America bombing in Vietnam for years after the government determined the war was not winnable. The thing takes on a life of its own and all is sacrificed to it.
People come here from all over the world to walk our downtown streets. Almost to a one, they call it a charming town.
They do not find it cute because our streets are sterile or because they find the same chain stores and fast-food joints that blot every other burg. What they like is our individuality, our spirit, our idiosyncrasies, flowering prominently on those hand-written boards and beckoning them.
City Council wants to bust our mojo.
If that all must go to protect the council’s desire to roust a few sad people, what will be the next obstruction to be sacrificed in the name of safely naked streets?
People pushing strollers? People in wheelchairs? People who pause at corners to ponder where next to spend their tourist dollar?
Has it escaped the city’s fine minds that these are the same people who pay the sales taxes that make their lives and ours possible? Will they be satisfied with a ghost town as long as they do not have to see the homeless?
The council will take public comments at its meeting at City Hall on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. For the love of pete, would some of you please set them straight?