“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

This statement often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt is a perfect example of what we all should expect of our leaders. 

When we elect an individual to any given office, we put our trust in that person to make the hard decisions and to do so with the community’s best interests in mind, even though some decisions may seem counterintuitive or problematic to a select few. 

It is unreasonable to expect the common citizen to know the complexities of government – of which there are plenty in California – and to understand the long-term visions of decisions that can be made at the city and county level. 

Between juggling a full-time job and family life, we elect our officials to make the right choices for us because they are the ones that fully understand the big picture and what’s best for all. They are the ones that dedicate their time to understanding the complexities of good governance. If we feel like they failed at that job over and over again, then we vote them out.

A pattern of avoiding or abandoning the tough decisions that need to be made has been on full display over the past few months in Yuba City. 

There was the sudden decision a few months ago to stop a Homekey project that would have transformed the Bonanza Inn in Yuba City into 130 low-income apartment units.

With funds from the state program intent on fixing the affordable housing crisis in California, the site would have been a gated community that would have required guests to check in to keep other residents safe and would have had on-site staff present at all times. All vehicles on the property would have needed to be registered and insured and no RV parking was to be allowed.

That plan was canceled after feedback from those who live around Bonanza Inn were unhappy that implementing a Homekey project would devalue their property. They had the perception that more issues that go along with homelessness would be exponentially increased should the Homekey project be fully realized. 

However, they completely ignored the fact that the plan would have actually fixed their increasing issues with homelessness and has instead extended the suffering they currently endure when it comes to individuals who often may be addicted to deadly drugs and have severe mental health issues.

Instead of doing what was right and providing a real solution to the affordable housing crisis, our leaders backed down. Instead of trying something, they did nothing.

On Monday, the city and Sutter County put a pause on a planned overnight vehicle parking area at county-owned property, the former Kmart site at 850 Gray Ave.

In order to combat homelessness in the area and the prevalence of unwanted RV campers clogging up city and county streets and parks, both jurisdictions more or less came together with a temporary plan to not only provide a safe and secure place for homeless individuals to stay, but also provide a way for area law enforcement to do their jobs and enforce current ordinances already on the books. This planned 60-day trial, for all intents and purposes, was going to be a win-win situation for everyone involved.

Much like the Bonanza Inn project, because of NIMBYism and a misinformed public, the idea was scrapped. 

With business owners around the Kmart property whipping up a frenzy on social media about the plan and feeding the disinformation monster, our elected officials decided to bow down to public pressure. Not because it was the right thing to do, but because they want to get re-elected. They want to feel loved. And who wouldn’t? That’s a natural human instinct. 

But that’s not why we elect our leaders.

We elect our leaders to make the tough decisions. To do what needs to be done. Continuing to capitulate to those who aren’t properly informed is not what a leader does. We need leaders in this community who will stand up for what is right and do what they believe is right for the community as a whole. 

Now, instead of having a regulated area for homeless individuals in RVs, the problems at the Kmart site will continue and our homelessness issue will continue to grow. The problems that those business owners around Kmart currently face will not stop anytime soon. Instead of having an area that was going to be regulated and secured, it will remain an open sore for the community.

Our elected officials are basically kicking the can down the road on the homelessness issue. They say they want to do something, but when it’s time to actually do something, they are too scared.

Their lack of courage to take action is not solving the problem. We need leaders with courage. The courage to do what they know is right, even though it may not be popular at first but is something they know deep down is what is needed to make the places we live better.

They say they want to get the public more involved. That’s fine. But at some point, you need to have the strength to make the tough decisions, because “the worst thing you can do is nothing.”

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