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The board of Occupy Madison Inc has submitted the following answers to community questions. The answer are, however, work in progress and may change as we get additional community feedback and as we find out more information. Additionally, the village will be a cooperative and the rules are primarily developed by the members of that cooperative living on the site and will be adjusted over time. If you have additional questions, please submit them below.
Police department statement about our project as of 2/13/14
I have spoken with Interim Chief Randy Gaber, and he tells me that our Command Staff is currently talking with Occupy Madison about the proposed project for E. Johnson St. The MPD believes area homeless people should be treated with dignity and respect, and we will continue to work with other city agencies and community partners to address their needs. Certainly, the potential for having a tiny house village is a concept worth studying, and that is part of the ongoing discussion we are having with Occupy Madison.
Why are the police opposed to this? What data are they referring to?
We are not sure. See statement above. We have had positive working relationships with the police since our inception. However, our meeting scheduled for 1/29 with Captain Lengfeld did not go well. He refused to look at our specific proposal and existing policies and procedures, but remained opposed without looking at the proposal. We attempted to meet with him prior to the neighborhood meeting at James Reeb; however, he did not respond. Captain Lengfeld said he based his comments on data from 800 E. Washington, Lakeview Hill and Portage Rd. and the after action report from 800 E Washington, objections from PDQ and the objections from the school. This project is not a protest or occupation. It is not an encampment. This will eventually (1 – 2 years) be
11 9 tiny houses on private property – private property is key to our success as we can control who is allowed to be there, which was not the case at the other locations. We have been doing the same thing at 4235 Argosy Court since June 2013 and we have not had one police call. We have people sleeping legally in that area and there have not been issues. Our recent meeting with the Madison Police Department have been productive and proactively focus on ensuring safety and well-being of all members of this neighborhood and community.
How will you work with the police?
Despite a bumpy start, we are currently having productive discussions with the police to ensure that everyone in the neighborhood is safe and feels respected. We have had positive relations with the police department at the other locations we have been present in; Sheriff Dave Mahoney (Token Creek), Captain Carl Gloede (Central – 800 E. Washington), Captain Mary Schauf (East – Argosy Ct) and Captain Cam McLay (formerly North – Lakeview Hill and Portage Rd). We have consistently found the the police are often our biggest allies in many of the issues related to homelessness in our community and we have worked well with them in the past and look forward to continuing to work well with them in the future.
Drugs and Alcohol are already a problem in the neighborhood will this add to it?
Tiny Home Stewards and their guests are expected to follow the terms of their contract and these rules. If the stewards or their guests break their contract they will risk losing their tiny homes after hundreds of hours of work.
There are already disturbances in the Demetral Park and problems east of police department garage/Burr Jones. Will this increase the calls for service?
We will work with the neighborhood to resolve these issues as we want a neighborhood free from disturbances as well. We have no reason to believe that it will increase services as we’ve had no calls for services since starting OM Build. We expect the same rules to be followed in the surrounding neighborhood as on our property.
Will people loiter at PDQ?
We do not believe people will hang out at PDQ any more than anyone else in the neighborhood. Unlike Lakeview Hill, our site will provide the facilities needed by the people living there. Cooking facilities, heat, restrooms, showers, access to water, coffee, soft drinks, etc. will all be provided on the site.
Will people use the bathrooms at PDQ?
Initially we will have 1 men’s and 1 women’s restroom. During phase two, when we have 4 houses on the site we will have 2 men’s and 2 women’s restrooms on site in addition to the composting toilets in the tiny houses as well as showers. There should be no reason to use the restrooms at PDQ unless people are customers and then no more than anyone else living in the neighborhood.
Will there be panhandling outside of PDQ?
PDQ sells alcohol. Will people be purchasing alcohol there and will it create more problems in the neighborhood?
People on the site are expected to follow the terms of their contract and these rules. Drugs and alcohol should not be a problem and if they are, people will risk losing their tiny homes after hundreds of hours of work.
Will my son be safe riding his bike in the neighborhood? Can we let our kids outside, will they be safe?
While it is up to the discretion of the caretaker of any child to make the call whether or not they feel that any activity is safe for their child, we have absolutely no reason to believe that children, or anyone for that matter, are in increased danger due to the Tiny House Village being located in this neighborhood.
This is close to a high school and elementary school. Is that safe?
Please see above. We offered to meet with East High and this is the response we got from Luis Yudice, Coordinator of School Safety and Security for the Madison Metropolitan School District:
We believe that this is a neighborhood issue therefore, MMSD has not taken a public position in favor or against the project. However, if there are any new developments since the last neighborhood meeting, we would appreciate a meeting.
Will sex offenders live on-site?
We want a community that is safe for everyone, just like any other neighborhood resident. We will work with police, probation and parole and other law enforcement and corrections agencies to ensure the well being of our community. Information about sex offenders in the neighborhood can be found here. Here is the map as of 1/27/14
Will there be huge numbers of homeless people we have to walk by on the way to PDQ? Will that be safe?
Anyone visiting our site will be working and will have to comply with the shop rules. We imagine some residents and visitors will be customers at PDQ. As always, residents will need to follow the terms of their contract and these rules.
The crime rate in the neighborhood is already high. Will this increase the crime rate?
We have no reason to believe that the crime rate will increase in the neighborhood. There has not been an increase in crime in the neighborhood we are in now.
Will violence and drugs be present like 800 E Washington?
No. This is private property where we can enforce the rules.
Does current behavior really address alcohol or mental health issues?
Current behavior is all we can regulate. We cannot discriminate against someone with a disability. If someone has issues with alcohol or mental health issues, they will be addressed, but until there is an issue, we can’t address it.
Will the “at-risk” apartment across the street be safe?
Yes, as safe as it is now.
Why do you need security detail if it is safe?
The security detail is for the safety of the residents living on the site to ensure our shop and residents remain safe from stealing, vandalism, etc. Additionally, our security detail has multiple roles, including serving as ambassadors to the neighborhood and visitors, processing donations and running the retail store.
Your rules refer to allowing guests to stay for a maximum of two weeks, and also to picking up after pets. Are there limits on how often residents can have guests? Are there any rules about how many or what kinds of pets each resident can have?