Petition from Oceanside Industrial Park businesses against the Brother Benno Foundation

The Brother Benno Foundation has been in the Oceanside Industrial Park for over 30 years, but some of the center’s neighbors don’t like it.

A petition has been launched asking the City of Oceanside to revoke Brother Benno’s Conditional Use Permit (CUP).

This permit allows Brother Benno’s to operate in the business park – as long as their activities do not cause damage to the community or nearby facilities.

The applicants say they have dealt with loafers, theft and substance abuse at the site and that Brother Benno does not meet the terms of the permit.

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Pictured: Oceanside Industrial Park on Production Avenue in Oceanside, California on March 7, 2023.

“I have watched the escalation for more than a decade and this is not fair to us. I don’t see a future here,” said Dane Huntz, the owner of the business next to Benno’s brother. My neighbor won’t go into a trash can without a weapon. I can’t have my daughters work here. How fair is this for me? It’s not scary.”

Huntz says he has seen things like people using garbage cans as toilets.

“My trash can… it has been cleaned and sanitized, the rain has washed away a lot, but it’s dangerous. Hepatitis bothered me, I didn’t want to touch it, I put on gloves every time I need to go out there. right,” he said.

The Brother Benno Center has operated from a 12,000-square-foot warehouse on Production Avenue since 1991.

“Over the years, it has evolved into a truly comprehensive one-stop solution for virtually anyone who may face any challenge in life,” says Ben Meyer, Manager of Essential Services, Brother Benno’s.

The center offers resources Monday through Saturday to those in need in the community.

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Pictured: A volunteer distributes food at the Brother Benno Center in Oceanside, California on March 1, 2023.

“We serve breakfast to hundreds of vulnerable people, the underprivileged, the working class, the poor (daily),” Meyer said. “We work with hundreds of families who trust us with their products, diapers, hygiene products and everything in the world. We let people get their mail here.”

Huntz shared photos of some of the things he’s encountered outside of his business. He said that most of the people in the photographs receive some sort of resource from Brother Benno.

“I’m disappointed with Benno because I don’t feel that compassion fixes this situation. I feel like it makes people calm down in their circumstances and I think it prolongs them,” he said.

Jesse O’Hara also has a business next to Benno’s brother. He said he feels overwhelmed because he sees families going to the center for food, but he supports the petition because the small number of people causing problems have been ignored for too long.

“If someone is sleeping in front of our door, we shouldn’t wake them up and say sorry. We have to wait for the cops to come and wake them up and… It’s just not right. This is not a good situation, and in my opinion, no one is doing anything about it, ”said O’Hara.

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Pictured: The Brother Benno Center offers resources to the community during business hours. March 7, 2023

The Oceanside Police Department said they have issued 72 tickets at the business park since September 2022.

The department is also working with businesses in the area to evaluate facilities for any improvements that could be made to reduce crime in the area.

Meyer acknowledges the problems business owners are reporting, but says the people causing them are only a handful of the 5,000 people registered with Brother Benno’s.

“This is a very small number of people, incredibly small. What would make most people say, “Well, why can’t you handle it?” This is a question that arises in all of us. We all wonder what can we do? How do we find where people go? These are people,” Meyer said.

Brother Benno owns their building and they do not receive any financial support from government agencies. Meyer says they are doing their best with what they have, but blaming this problem on someone else’s home won’t solve the problem.

“It goes back to the fact that we signed up to help people, some people didn’t sign up to help people, they signed up to make money, and that’s okay. But we’re going to continue to do our best to help people,” Meyer said.

But they will do their best with some new restrictions.

As a result of the petition, Brother Benno’s now closes earlier and they have hired more security to patrol the area.

They implemented these changes just last week.

Business owners such as Dane Huntz say it will be several weeks before he can say if the changes bring improvements.

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Pictured: Ben Meyer closes the gate at Brother Benno Center in Oceanside, California on March 1, 2023.

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