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The city should first resolve all the problems surrounding and associated with the Ritter
I worked for the County, in Social Services, and the County is complicit with former San Rafael City officials in the rise of the homeless population. A red-carpet was laid out for the professional homeless from other counties adjacent to Marin. Many applicants were already active in the those counties when they came to apply. While other types of applicants were asked to verify county residency, the homeless simply had to write a declaration that, as of that moment, they were Marin County residents. Then their services would be started here. The word got out: Marin County! They expedite your services; it's got meals, mail and mellowness! It just ballooned from there.
Once Electronic Food Stamps were started, it was actually possible to see where they were being used. Still is. The "homeless" (no vehicle etc.) Marin resident would get their card and -- voila -- within an hour it was completely drained (in ONE transactioin) at a Tenderloin (or like...) store in SF. An entire month of benefits.
I of course understand MOST homeless are not criminals, con-artists or abusers of a system. I have been homeless myself. However if the habitual, the chronic population could be demographically profiled, you would most likely see a preponderance of people NOT from Marin County; these people have severe dual-diagnosis issues and do deserve compassion. However they should not see Marin County as "easy street" (and, face it, would YOU choose to be homeless in Richmond, SF, or Oakland if catching a ride to Marin made your life simpler, easier and safer?).
I support services for the homeless. The "mom and pop" Ritter House store is now a Wal-Mart and does not belong downtown. The homeless that taxpayer money goes to support -- indeed help thrive -- should have a connection to Marin County. If they're "passing through," they should not be given resident status just because it's easier here. If they need a bus ticket home, that's probably the best practice.
I remember an All-Staff Meeting about 6 years ago when the Director of Health and Human Services announced that "we will end homelessness in Marin." Didn't say how; didn't say when; didn't ever follow-up on that. In those 6 years the problematic homeless issue was grown 2-3 fold. What is needed are practical measures to mitigate a problem CREATED by the County and San Rafael. It sounds like the City finally understands the problem. They understand it's going to take more than platitudes
This is exactly the concern I have. Ritter has failed to enforce Marin residency requirements, so instead of focusing resources on our own county's issue we are ocean boiling solving for the entire region.
I share your compassion, combined with realism not to take on adjacent counties issues. I am deeply concerned that Ritter has not been responsible in their end of the bargain by failing to restrict access to just Marin residents, this is enabling making the issue unsolvable. I don't see what assurances what such a "bad actor" can provide when they've acted in this regard.
The issue is much more significant in Terra Linda because of the very clear risk of encampments starting fires in our dry hills which burn down homes. This has nearly happened on a number of occasions even BEFORE moving a homeless service center or "rotating emergency shelter team" (REST). It's foreseeable that this "compassion" will lead to one or more of your fellow Marin resident's homes burning down.
Terra Linda is not about to take on not only the entire' county's problem but attract people from adjacent counties. We have weak supervisors serving political (not resident) interests - who just got re-elected. We're already taking it on the chin with:
(1) The noisy and polluting diesel SMART train
(2) Northgate walk, a 182 unit luxury apartment complex proposed by a Los Angeles based developer that's set to significantly add to congestion around Freitas. Currently little used junctions at traffic lights will become more heavily used reducing the green light time for people driving through Freitas.
Now we get the entire county homeless problem, plus some of Contra Costa, Sonoma and San Franciscos. That's not compassion, that's the definition of unfair, disproportionate impact.
It is morally wrong to turn your back on local people who fall on hard times.
It is not morally wrong to refuse services to opportunists who arrive from all over California, and from other states as well. These people merely want to take advantage of San Rafael's abundant free camping, abundant free food, abundant free services and great panhandling fueled by unthinking citizens who end up enabling drug and alcohol addiction.
There needs to be an "entry test" for San Rafael services. What connection do people have to our community? How long have they lived here? If they come from elsewhere, why did they travel here?
Otherwise San Rafael will become even more of a homeless mecca than it already is, "More homeless per capita than San Francisco." Indeed, what is to prevent ALL of San Francisco's homeless from moving to sunny Marin?
"There needs to be an "entry test" for San Rafael services. "How about the following tests:1. Parents own home in Marin for at least ten years?2. Graduate of local high school?3. Ten years of tax statements listing a local address? 2 of the 3 could establish local residency and temporary assistance of no more than one year.
San Francisco has spent over a billion and a half on "homele$$" services. The politicians in San Francisco attract them through their compassion and "values". Spread the word among the "homeless" that in S.F. they offer:Shelters, apartments for lottery winners, free cell phones, free translation services for illegals, free legal services, free lockers, free massage and yoga, LGBT services for the 30% of the homeless who want them, free mental health care, free city issued I.D. cards, free medical care and a police force that tolerates setting up tents on public sidewalks and you can deficate between cars, panhandle without compunction almost anywhere, plenty of liquor stores that will cash out your electronic foodstamps all at once for booze, why the list is endless! How can Marin hope to compete with that? A free Golden Gate Transit ticket to The San Francisco Civic Center is the only assistance that Marin should provide.
This should be consistent. Also why is this specific to Marin? Where is Tiburon's shelter, Mill Valley's, Corte Madera's and Sausalito's? The criteria should be narrowed to be town specific and they should be common to all towns. So I would revise your list to any two of the following three:
1. Parents own home in San Rafael for at least ten years?2. Graduate of a high school in that town3. Ten years of tax statements listing an address in that town (one year less for every year old you are under 32 so that the young aren't penalized).
Don't meet the criteria? - then we provide the bus fare (and the mayor tells me there's a fund for this) to take you to a location where you think you would qualify. This ensures we define the problem in a solvable way, and we provide a mechanism so that if you don't meet the criteria we provide the means to get to a location where you do fit the criteria.
Once again it is not fair that Terra Linda serves all of Marin. Tiburon, Mill Valley, Corte Madera, Sausalito, etc... each should first demonstrate supporting their fair share before any new center is opened in San Rafael or Terra Linda.
Finally how are we to be convinced that any requirement will be upheld given track record? Otherwise we're inheriting a problem that is only going to further spiral out of control.
Stop luring bums here from all over the west coast by splashing free stuff around.
While the San Rafael City Council should be applauded for finally recognizing and attempting to act on the Ritter Center issue, nevertheless I am skeptical. Ritter Center has had an increasing and detrimental footprint on the greater San Rafael downtown area for at least the past 15 years. Where was our local government on this issue? How could they let this get so out-of-control? I maintain the unintended consequences (degraded quality of life, undue concentration of homeless in the downtown area, etc.) of the Riiter Center homeless programs were predictable and preventable. As the Ritter budget increased, so did their homeless outreach programs. Admittedly, they do provide some needed services to an underserved community, yet Ritter Center fails to consider the consequences of their programs on the downtown area, nor how their services negatively impact other community stakeholders i.e., businesses, homeowners, renters, etc.As a sidenote, at the recent June 6 City Council meeting the first speaker on the Ritter Center agenda item was a representative from Ritter Center. The representative enunciated the good deeds that Ritter Center does, however never addressed the degraded downtown area . While we should applaud Ritter Center for their good deeds, we should hold them accountable for the adverse impact they have had on our downtown area. To summarize, I am skeptical of any Ritter Center MOU based on their prior behavior of ignoring and disrespecting other San Rafael stakeholders.
@Ma@Marin One:disqus I wouldn't direct your ire to Dick, he's just reporting the news; we should be grateful for his heads up. I share your concerns about wildfires. Many of us came within 100 yards of having our homes burned down 2 years ago because of a fire started on the side of the hill by Contempo Marin by homeless. This does pose a very real danger to Terra Linda residents.
I called a San Rafael city councilor and started to get more insight into the real facts. While Mark Drive has been one of many discussed options, it seems Ritter is now becoming more focused on this location. To be able to use this location they would need a use permit that's normally issued by the planning commission, but any appeal will cause it to be escalated to city council. Its unlikely they'd buy the property before the permit was issued, otherwise the property will be unable to suit their needs.
CITY COUNCIL MOUTo date city council has been focused on solving, rather than moving the problem. They are putting forward a memorandum of understanding for Ritter to abide by. Whether this has teeth I don't know, but the intent focuses on:
(1) Today any unhoused individual can easily secure about $350 cash from Marin Health and Human Services and give them a mailbox. The MOU will require more reasonable proof of Marin residency.
(2) Ritter was giving food the unhoused. The MOU would cancel this, only the currently (be it temporarily) housed would be served. This means folks in homeless encampments swinging by to collect food would no longer be served.
The proposed location on Mark Drive is 20,000 sq ft. Ritter would likely use 9,000 sq ft for their medical services. The Marin Organizing Committee and others are proposing that the remaining area be used as an emergency shelter. The current non-residential zoning designation means they can't provide cooking facilities, sinks, etc, but they can provide cots for 365 days a year.
This does seem to be a very bad year for Terra Linda residents:- first SMART is operating with associated noise and diesel pollution- second we have Northgate Walk, a 182 unit complex proposed by the Four Points Sheraton to be developed by a Los Angeles company likely to make Freitas Parkway traffic even worse than it is- last we have Ritter proposing this relocation