SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Demetria Gilbert Pope went into mother-mode early Thursday afternoon and encouraged a small group of homeless people at Ortega Park to clean the facilities.
A large pot of homemade chili helped entice at least four of them to grab gloves, mops and buckets and start scrubbing the two city bathrooms that are often teeming with unmentionable filth and discarded drug paraphernalia.
The park, which butts up to Santa Barbara Junior High School, has become a lightning rod for complaints about ongoing homeless activities.
The school's students and members of the nearby Boys and Girls Club are reluctant to use the park's facilities, swimming pool and softball field because of the constant presence of a homeless group that often includes people who are drunk, high or passed out.
Pope says it will take a concerted effort by the City and local residents to take the park back for the children in the community and believes gatherings like this will help.