While not trying to be the heavy, Lodi police said they would like four Lodi churches that feed the homeless on Sundays to stop doing it at Lodi Station.
Instead, police would rather that the Sunday homeless breakfast program move to another location such as Hale Park on Lodi's Eastside, Officer Dale Eubanks said.
Responding to complaints from transit station employees, officers have kept an eager eye on the homeless whenever church groups serve breakfast after 9 a.m. on Sundays. Some of the problems include alcohol, drug abuse, not keeping the parking lot tidy and damaging the station restrooms, Eubanks said.
"Some of the homeless folks are very diligent," he said. "Only about a third of them cause a lot of problems."
Volunteers from Zion Reformed, St. Peter Lutheran, First United Methodist and Lodi Community churches rotate weekends to feed the homeless. And two volunteers from Vinewood Community Church helped out Lodi Community Church volunteers on Sunday.
Church members served eggs, hash brown potatoes, a peach half, coffee cake, orange juice and coffee on Sunday. They also gave the homeless a sack lunch with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a banana, Oreo cookies and a piece of paper with a biblical selection.
"We usually serve 120 people," said Lee Reed, who along with wife Jacquelyn Reed organizes the breakfast when it's Lodi Community Church's turn.
It was somewhat of a lovefest Sunday. Church volunteers enjoyed serving breakfast in the transit station parking lot, and the homeless showed their appreciation.
"You don't have to be homeless to be hungry," said Rick Ellis, who has lived most of his life in Lodi. "It's a good thing (the churches are) doing here."
Mike Copulos, road supervisor for MV Transportation, which supplies drivers for the GrapeLine and Dial-a-Ride buses in the Lodi area, said he's concerned that customers waiting for the bus or train are uncomfortable with homeless people around.
"The restrooms are the biggest problem," Copulos said. "They take the screws from the light fixtures. They steal toilet paper."
A few months ago, the homeless were eating off transit employees' cars parked at the station and damaging them, Copulos said.
Jacquelyn Reed, from Lodi Community church, said she's heard rumors that the police want them to move, but she doesn't understand why.
"These people are so pleasant and so nice," Reed said.
As for moving to Hale Park, she said, "It's a walk. Why make it inconvenient for them?"
Her husband added, "It's always 'not in my backyard.'"
Eubanks said that police haven't been too hard on either the church groups or the homeless on Sundays.
"I don't want to go after somebody trying to help others," he said. "Yeah, they can be cited, but it's not an enforcement action we want to take. Their hearts are in the right place, and we understand that. It's very admirable. It just needs to be elsewhere."
Such as Hale Park, on Stockton Street between Elm and Locust streets.
"A public park. It's designed for that," Eubanks said. "The park atmosphere is a lot better than the transportation center."
Parks have restrooms and picnic tables, which is just what you need for breakfast, he added.
"If you go water skiing, you don't go to the desert," Eubanks said.
Karen Zielske, who isn't homeless but eats breakfast and socializes with them each Sunday, said that Hale Park is too dangerous with the frequent gang activity there.
"There aren't any gangs (in the park) in the mornings, and the gang members don't mess with the homeless," Eubanks replied.
The news that the police and transit center employees want the homeless to move didn't go over well with the homeless and their friends.
"We pick up our own mess," said Roger Baeta, born and raised in Lodi and homeless for four years. "I'm wondering why they don't want us here. It seems to me they don't want the homeless nowhere."
Baeta, wearing a white Pittsburgh Steelers football jersey he found at the bottom of a garbage can, says that homeless people help clean up Lodi every day by recycling.
"I'm not hungry," Baeta said. "I eat every day. I find it in the garbage. There's recyclables (in the garbage) - bedding, clothes, food."
Officers are also concerned that homeless people at Lodi Station are in danger of getting drunk and then stumbling onto the tracks and getting hit by a train.
"It takes just one of them to fall into the tracks," he said. "It has the potential of a very sad situation happening."