Recall election candidate introduces homelessness policy
John Cox, who ran against Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2018, held a press conference at Girsh Park in Goleta Thursday as part of his campaign in the Sept. 14 recall election.
He infamously traveled with a brown bear early in the campaign but has traded in Tag (the bear) for a ball of trash towed by a truck and trailer.
“With the ball, we’re just demonstrating the idea that this state is just full of trash — the people aren’t trash; the trash is trash,” the Republican candidate said when asked about the prop’s symbolism.
His speech didn’t touch on the environmental issues one might expect with the image of a pile of trash. Instead, he spoke about the homelessness crisis.
Perhaps the incongruence reinforces a point he repeated: He’s a businessman by trade, not a politician.
Addressing media professionals in a city he pronounced “Guh-let-ta,” he outlined a four-pronged approach to solving homelessness.
“Now that (Gavin Newsom)’s been governor, the homelessness crisis has gotten worse, not better — despite billions and billions of dollars spent,” Mr. Cox said.
He called Gov. Newsom’s Project Roomkey and Project Homekey, which provide rooms in hotels and apartments to homeless individuals, a “temporary fix.”
“It’s not a long term-solution,” he said. “I’m a businessman. I look at causes of problems; I don’t just treat the symptoms.”
The largest problem is the cost of housing, he said. He blames lengthy processes stretched by government mandates, lawsuits, the California Environmental Quality Act and layers of approval.
“What we need to do is lower these costs, streamline the process, streamline the regulations and make sure that we build housing that people can afford, just like I’ve done in my business life,” he said.
He builds houses primarily in Indiana, where he said he gets approvals within six months to a year.
He noted two differences between the Hoosier state and California: leadership and provision of resources. He plans to talk about the access to energy and water later in the campaign.
Another key to his homelessness policy is a “treatment-first” approach. He clarified that he doesn’t mean he’d deny housing to those struggling with addiction or other obstacles.
He plans to utilize private organizations to assist the homeless population with the goal of helping them achieve employment. He believes private entities would lead to more humane treatment than government-run facilities.
Enforcing restrictions, which he labels “tough love,” is part of his approach. He wants law enforcement to reduce the number of people sleeping on beaches, sidewalks and benches.
When asked by a reporter how he’d stop a cycle of homeless individuals going in and out of jail, Mr. Cox saw a solution in conservatorships — including amending the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act signed by California Gov. Ronald Reagan in 1967.
He suggests short-term conservatorships established by the court system to ensure homeless individuals reside in treatment facilities until they’re well enough to work.
The last step in his plan is oversight of government spending.
“The money that’s been spent, most of it has been spent in an unwise and inefficient manner,” he said. “It has got to be spent wisely and efficiently because the taxpayers work hard for that money.”
His campaign staff anticipates returning to Santa Barbara County or nearby San Luis Obispo. He will incorporate a new prop and new theme for the next leg of his tour.