A Salt Lake woman brought her campaign to close a west-side plasma donation center and rid her neighborhood of transients to the Salt Lake City Council Tuesday.
"I want to know why we have to live with these transients," Judi Wardle asked the council. Wardle lives in the Guadalupe Neighborhood area a block from the American Plasma Management Donor Center, 606 W. North Temple.Wardle said she has a petition signed by 73 Salt Lake residents demanding the privately owned plasma center be closed or moved, saying transients are donating blood and using the proceeds to get drunk.
The donor center, a state liquor store at 54 N. Eighth West and a nearby thrift shop have clogged the neighborhood with transient attractions, Wardle said. "It's too much for one area," she complained.
That prompted Councilwoman Sydney Fonnesbeck to tell Wardle her solution was only a "Band-Aid approach to a gargantuan problem" that afflicts not just Wardle's neighborhood but the rest of the nation.
"Until people are not homeless anymore, we'll have this problem," she said.
"Why should it be in my neighborhood?" Wardle countered.
Last week, Wardle contacted Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis' office to complain about transients who retire to vacant lots and drink themselves into a stupor. Some have harassed her children, she added.
"If one of them hurts my daughter, I wouldn't call the police, I'd kill them," she said.
Wardle's complaints angered City Council member Florence Bittner, who represents the district where the center operates. Bittner said the donor center met with the area's neighborhood council before it opened and agreed not to service transients.
"We were assured by the plasma center they would not be using transients as blood donors," she said.
If the center is indeed buying blood from transients, "then they are in violation with their agreement with the city," she said.
Patrick Sorenson, a policy analyst on the mayor's staff, told Bittner he was unaware of any legal agreements binding the center to such a prohibition against serving transients.
Sorenson toured the neighborhood with Wardle last week. Tuesday he told the council the mayor's office directed city workers to clean up the area in an effort to keep transients from the neighborhood.
City crews secured abandoned buildings and cleared weeds Wardle said transients used to take refuge in while drinking. Owners of an empty shed tore the building down and owners of an empty semitrailer removed it from a vacant lot, Sorenson said.
But Wardle won't stop until she's shut down the plasma center, she said. Sorenson said the Salt Lake City-County Health Department found the center to be operating legally and couldn't be closed under city zoning ordinances.
But it's possible the center could be shut down under the city's public nuisance laws, he acknowledged.
If the center closes, Wardle says she will bid good riddance to those people without jobs who sell blood to the plasma center as a means of subsistence.
"I hate to say it, but maybe they'll try to get a job, or get some state assistance - do something for themselves," she said.