OVA Community Task Force to Address Los Guilicos Homeless

            The Oakmont Village Association board of directors has named a community task force charged with “quickly” analyzing the plan to house the homeless at the Los Guilicos Facility across Highway 12 and recommend actions needed to fill in “any Oakmont-threatening gaps—security or otherwise”.

             Board President Steve Spanier outlined the task force’s assignment at a Jan. 21 board meeting, adding: “As far as I and Jack Tibbetts, the site’s operator, are concerned, even one incident occurring in Oakmont is one incident too many. You need to not only be safe, you need to feel safe. That’s a large part of the reason many of us moved here and enjoy living here.” Tibbetts is executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which operates the site.

            The resolution creating the task force charges it with evaluating the county’s plan and recommending “additional actions the board and community may take to ensure, to the greatest reasonable extent, the safety and well-being of Oakmont residents.”

            Addressing the issue of how long the Highway 12 facility would be open, Wally Schilpp, a long-time Oakmont resident and former board member, said Tibbetts told him all the residents will be “gone” by April 30, if not sooner. He said all 60 residents, according to Tibbetts, were hand-picked and have no mental or drug problems and some have jobs.

            Director Carolyn Bettencourt, expressing concerns about the homeless facility, emphasized the need for the task force to move “immediately.” She wondered why the facility is not limited to abused women and the elderly, adding, “I don’t think this is temporary.” Director Marianne Neufeld asked “what the city will do for us” in connection with the homeless encampment. She said she wants assurances from the city.

 

TASK FORCE BACKGROUND

            The task force, which was asked to develop a charter by the Feb. 18 board meeting, includes Jeff Young, chair, Kim Clement, Chris Finn and Tom Laudari. Young is president of the Quail Run HOA, a graduate of Sonoma State’s Organizational Development Department and an experienced facilitator. Clement, an attorney, is a leader of Tibbetts’ eight-member Advisory Council consisting of Oakmont and other local residents who will provide feedback to Tibbetts regarding Oakmont’s experience in the wake of the Los Guilicos occupation.

            Finn has broad experience working with the homeless community, including eight years with the Santa Clara County’s Valley Homeless Healthcare Program as a nurse manager. Laudari, recent director of the Supervised Adult Crew Division of the Sonoma County Probation Department, has experience clearing homeless encampments and is knowledgeable of homeless issues.

            Task force members met in the room after the board adjourned to discuss their plans.

            Spanier, after expressing his concerns about the safety of Oakmont residents, added: “This doesn’t mean I don’t also want to help the unfortunate guests of the homeless shelter as well as the St. Vincent de Paul staff who will spend their time and energy providing services to these guests. These two ideas are not mutually exclusive.”

            “We can bake brownies and employ additional security. We can try to force county officials to come clean about the site’s temporary or permanent nature AND try to create a model for how a community can band together to help a nearby homeless shelter. We can take steps to protect ourselves while still preserving our humanity and our compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves.

            “”I’m also a human being. As a human being, I have compassion for people inside and outside Oakmont who have less than I do. I need not and will not sacrifice my values to panic and respond unreasonably to the situation we face,“ Spanier said.