Oceanside residents sound off about homeless center

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OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- The Oceanside Planning Commission will review an organization that helps the homeless after listening to more than an hour of public testimony Monday night.

Commissioners elected a subcommittee to review Brother Benno's Conditional Use Permit. Brother Benno's provides food, clothing, and addiction recovery programs to the homeless, along with other services. But some who live in the area and work nearby are worried that it is a safety concern, citing an increase in crime in the area.

"We see drug paraphernalia, sexual paraphernalia, a boatload of trash and a lot of shady individuals," one speaker said at the meeting.

Tim Armbruster is a member of the group Safe Oside. He says his 13-year-old son was attacked by a homeless man at a local park earlier this month.

“I would like to see other social services step in and Brother Benno not be there if they can’t comply and provide a safe area," Armbruster told FOX 5.

"Stop trying to vilify and scapegoat an organization that, for more than 30 years, has been in this community," said Marco Gonzales, an attorney representing Brother Benno's.

Gonzales said the man who was arrested for attacking the teen had not visited the organization since December.

“Encampments will exist here regardless of whether you provide services," Gonzales said.

Others lined up at the meeting to show their support for the organization's work.

"My children would have starved had it not been for Brother Benno’s," one speaker said.

Roxanne Stafford said Brother Benno's helped her recover from addiction.

"I was on the verge of losing my daughter and my husband," Stafford told FOX 5. "They gave me hope."

The Planning Commission elected commissioners Rosales, Balma and Krahel to form a subcommittee to review Brother Benno's Conditional Use Permit. That will include looking into whether or not the organization is enforcing a no loitering policy and keeping track of who uses their services.

Some among the crowd said they would like them to see the organization increase security, require drug tests or move to a new location.

"We aren’t able to regulate people who are not on our property," Gonzales said.

The subcommittee did not immediately schedule their first meeting but said the meetings will be open to the public.

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