By Adrienne Lauby, February 12, 2021
Homeless people and Homeless Action! showed up on Tuesday, February 9 for this week’s Santa Rosa City Council meeting discussion on Homelessness. And so did many of our allies. There was incredible truth and eloquence for over an hour and a half in public comment!
For those of you who couldn’t be there, here’s the schedule of events and the meeting recording:
1:20:22 Staff Presentation, Interspersed with questions from Council members
3:45:08 Public Comment Begins (5 min break included)
5:28:19 Council discussion of the proposals
Everything will have to return to the Council for final votes. But here’s how the wind was blowing:
1. Yes, to completing the Sprung Structure in the parking lot of the Sam Jones Shelter for added capacity. Natalie Rogers, vice mayor, questioned spending additional money for more staff and operational support beyond the completion of set up. She thought that the money might be better spent on serving more people with Safe Parking or other managed camp village projects.
2. Yes, to pursuing seven Safe Parking sites, one in each district of the city. The council wished to invite the public to help research, and wanted to listen to neighbors. Generally, 24/7 parking seems more likely than overnight parking. We may not get all 7 sites because a majority of the Council wanted them to clearly lead to housing which is the more costly option.
3. Maybe, to pursuing an alternate shelter site similar to Los Guilicos or the Finley Tent Camp, which could include 24/7 safe parking. This will likely only happen if the County helps with either money for services or a location site, or both. Again, the Council wanted it capable of moving people to permanent housing.
4. No, to a new Permitting process for R.V.s. This bad idea died under a storm of criticism from the public. Mayor Chris Rogers said, ‘go ahead and do the research’. But it seemed clear there is no where near the votes to move it forward.
5. Already Happening: A new four person crew for city-wide clean-up routes. Call 543-3800 (7) to request clean up in public right of way areas. No additional cost to the city. If people in homeless camps bag their garbage and put it in an easy-to-load location on public property, the City Works Department will come and pick it up— probably once a week. This is excellent!
OTHER: There were significant complaints by South Park neighbors about a camp there. They offered a 100 person petition asking the Council to help. It asked that the city offer these homeless people a place where they could camp legally.
Several other people spoke to say that the Rincon Library Parking Lot was not a good location for a Safe Parking Site.
Natalie Rogers, a new member of the Council and the current vice-mayor, impressed the heck out of me. Her thinking always put human needs first and she was not side-tracked by the complexities and details of these ideas. She’s soft-spoken, well-thought and made strong arguments when she spoke. Eddie Alvarez, also new to the council, helped by nudging the more long-term liberals in the right direction. Tom Schwedhelm has slowly moved to a more humane position on homeless issues. He’s going in the right direction.
Here is a 6 minute Morning-After recap by Mayor Chris Rogers. https://www.ksro.com/2021/02/10/interview-chris-rogers-recaps-the-santa-rosa-city-council-meeting-6/