Dean Clough

August 28, 2023

Portico Darwin: The Hotel SOPTOC Chain - Short Stays


3 Minute Read
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Happy Monday, and let's make it interesting. 

If you've been following along at home, you know I've started putting out my (fantastical) ideas regarding addressing homelessness and lawlessness.  I've put it all under the umbrella of Soft on People, Tough on Crime, or SOPTOC.  I contend that if we make it easy for people to do well and to do the right thing, most will.  Those that can't or won't are addressed - seriously and even permanently, if necessary - yet are still treated with respect.
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Here are the previous installments:
  1. Introduction
  2. The Front Desk

A reminder that the entire concept begins with an indexed minimum wage that assures anybody working 40 hours a week is above the poverty line.  Let's say that's $20 or $25 an hour.  Next, we need to join every other OECD nation and guarantee fundamental physical and mental health care for everyone.  And there is a 40-hour-a-week job with a state or the Federal government for anybody who can't find one elsewhere.

Yes, fantasy.  I get it, but only by imagining a better world can we attain one.  Did I just write that?

All of my SOPTOC dreams relating to housing and homelessness are based on a single principle:  nothing happens until somebody is sheltered.  At first temporarily (<= 2 weeks), and then permanently - wherever that needs to be.  Whether you're just down on your luck or completely whacked out, it is obvious a person can't rebuild a life from the sidewalk or a filthy shelter.

And that's why we must have a comprehensive Hotel SOPTOC chain:

Short Stays
  • Back on Your Feet Lodges
  • Rehab Resorts
  • Mental Motels

Longer/Permanent Stays
  • The Gateways
  • Mental Retirement Communities
  • Criminal Campus

Further, having temporary and permanent housing is pointless unless it is done right.  Where people live matters - the tent encampments in SF, and the human warehousing fiascos like Cabrini Green in Chicago and Pruitt-Igoe in St. Louis show us what not to do.   Here is Pruitt-Igoe:

You could also just read Jane Jacobs

Every facility must be esthetically pleasing (not luxurious), safe, clean, and have a full range of services appropriate for the Hotel - things ranging from haircuts to vocational training to intensive mental and substance abuse care.

The entire thing is also based on the belief that people prefer safety and security, and can thrive under those circumstances.  Those that can't go either to a Mental Retirement Community or a Criminal Campus.

Here are the first 3 members of the SOPTOC Hotel chain; I'll cover the places designed for longer stays in an upcoming post. 

Hopefully, you'll never need to check in, but wow, wouldn't it be great if others could?

Back on Your Feet Lodges
Whether a person goes to the Front Desk (any former U.S. Post Office) on their own or is brought there with or without their consent, the next stop is a Back on Your Feet Lodge.  This is the first step on the road back to society, and it should be noted these are intended for those without mental health problems and/or drug and/or alcohol dependencies.

These are facilities - I envision Quonset huts - built on the outskirts of a given city, housing approximately 250 people.  These are pristinely clean, partitioned for privacy, and sophisticated in terms of storing and tracking the personal possessions of guests.  They are secured by off-duty police officers, much like Apple Stores. 

The partitions within each Lodge are securable and mobile, so "rooms" are safe for their inhabitants and can be made larger, for couples and families.  There are facilities to care for and house pets, and of course, a full range of medical services.  Bathrooms and showers are especially done well, with the idea of reminding people what dignity feels like.

Services include job and housing search assistance.  If a private sector job cannot be found, one will be provided by either the state or the Federal government, based on the tested aptitude of the guest.

Likewise, housing.  As the folks at the Lodges are relatively healthy, ideally, housing in the private sector will be found and guests will move there.  However, a guest may also opt for a 6-month lease at one of The Gateways.

Rehab Resorts and Mental Motels
The fact is (at least by what I see in SF) a whole heck of a lot of the people on the streets are either heavy into booze and/or drugs, and/or are very gone mentally.   For these citizens, there are Rehab Resorts and Mental Motels.

These are designed for stays of <= 90 days and are similar in design to a typical Back on Your Feet Lodge.  But the idea here is intensive treatment, much like at private facilities.  Except these are free.  The treatments are complemented with a holistic approach focused on ensuring the person can function in society productively.

But because these people are indeed cleaning up and getting ready to rejoin society, an equal focus is on vocational training and getting people into full-time jobs.  Again, the state or Federal government will always have a job on offer, if one can't be found in the private sector.

And unlike The Back on Your Feet Lodges, guests departing a Rehab Resort or Mental Motel are automatically assigned to a local Gateway for 6 months of supportive residence.

There will be - of course - those who can't or won't stop abusing substances.  There will be mentally ill people who require ongoing care.  There will also be those who refuse to work productively.  For the former, there are the Mental Retirement Communities.  The latter go to a Criminal Campus.

But since the whole thing is about being Soft on People, while still Tough on Crime, these facilities are in some ways the crown jewels of The Hotel SOPTOC chain.  (But wow does one work and study hard at a Criminal Campus!)

I'll fantasize about summarize those and The Gateways soon, and even talk about how to pay for it all. 

Have a great week.


This does hurt, but I must tip my cap to Hunter Deuce, because it is he who introduced us to the West Marin beyond-Textbook place Casino Bar & Grill.  It is in Bodega, about an hour north of SF, near the coast.

This is a wonderful cash-only dive bar.  Big deal?  What if I told you they have 3 rotating chefs, serving gourmet, farm-to-table multi-course meals to packed houses on weeknights?

And a note to Mrs. Crup:  sorry, but it is not an actual casino.

Thank you to any one that is reading this newsletter.


Shockingly not played to date on KLUF, here is my favorite Led Zeppelin album, the Killer Houses of The Holy.

About Dean Clough