OVA To Seek Legal Advice On Future of Homeless Site

Last Updated: 02-19-20

Al Haggerty

            Reacting to skepticism regarding the future of the Los Guilicos homeless site across Highway 12 from Oakmont, the OVA Board of Directors adopted an Oakmont task force report at its Feb. 18 meeting recommending that it hire an attorney with experience in land use and the requirements of California law.

            The report said even if the site is shut down after 90 or 180 days, “waiting to find out if that is true is not recommended.” While director Jack Tibbetts is likely to continue doing a great job with security and transportation,” it continues, “Jack is not in control of the ultimate decision as to whether the site is shut down or continues in some form.” Tibbetts is executive director of St. Vincent de Paul, which manages the site for the county, and is also a city councilman.

photo by Julie Kiil

            County Supervisor Susan Gorin, an Oakmont resident, is quoted in the report by Oakmont’s Los Guilicos Task Force as saying “There is a strong possibility that the board (of supervisors) will choose to extend the time span at Los Guilicos during a short or long transition. It is unlikely, but still a possibility, that LG Village will be approved as a permanent shelter, but that is why the board and county need to hear from you.”

            In remarks at the OVA Board meeting, Gorin noted that the county is focusing on permanent supportive housing in buildings such as motels, adding that LG Village does not meet permanent supportive housing requirements. She said the cost of rehabilitating the older buildings near the village would be “enormous” and any suggestion along these lines is “long in the future.”

photo by Julie Kiil

            Director Carolyn Bettencourt called the LG Village “a prescription for disaster,” adding: “We need to hold our elected officials accountable to their original promise that the LG site is closed by April 30.”

            Director Jess Marzak said he is a “real supporter” of hiring an attorney. He said his guess is that “they’re not going to move because politicians find it easier to do what they’re doing rather than change.”

            The vote to adopt the task force report was 5-1. Director Tom Kendrick called his vote “a soft yes” because he questions hiring a lawyer and Director Noel Lyons abstained because he questions some of the recommendations. Director Marianne Neufeld was absent.

            Among its recommendations, the task force calls for an ongoing OVA committee to organize the community to watch for, report and record any incidents involving residents of the LG village. Nevertheless, it said it is not recommending video cameras at the Oakmont entrances or that OVA hire security to monitor the entrances.

            The task force cited an earlier study that concluded that surveillance equipment would have little or no crime prevention value and is highly unlikely to assist police in identifying crime suspects. And security guards could not legally keep any citizen from walking into Oakmont.

            The task force, citing studies of homeless centers in San Francisco, concluded that the centers had no effect on neighborhood crime or property values.

            The report notes that Tibbetts, who is managing LG Village, said it is spending $38,000 a month for additional security and $20,000 a month for shuttle buses “to make sure the communities surrounding the village are not negatively impacted.”

            Two legal obstacles to continuing the site beyond 180 days, according to the report, are that the mini homes become permanent and require sprinklers, and the proximity of the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home violates the law requiring a minimum distance between any sex offender residents and schools containing children.

            The OVA task force includes Jeff Young, chair, Kim Clement, Chris Finn and President Steve Spanier as the board liaison. Its exhaustive 35-page report drew thanks from board members and applause from residents. Young was a software engineering manager and an organizational consultant and leadership coach. Clement, a retired attorney, was a chief trial deputy for the city and county of San Francisco and more recently was deputy district attorney for Sonoma County. Finn spent the last eight years of her 40-year career as a registered nurse working for Santa Clara’s Valley Homeless Healthcare Program as a nurse manager.

            Other task force recommendations include:

            –Advocate that the legal obstacles to Los Guilicos not be relaxed.

            –Advocate that Los Guilicos does not discontinue its security and shuttle buses.

            –Advocate for the county accepting the two proposals it already has for more permanent homeless shelters.

            –Collaborate to define how permanent supportive housing will be implemented.

DEFIBRILLATORS

            The board unanimously approved the purchase of up to five automatic external defibrillators for $8,475 to be used in OVA common area buildings.  The issue was tabled at the Jan. 21 meeting over concern about liability issues.  The resolution to purchase the defibrillators said the issue about liability appears to resolve that there would be no liability to the association, employees or volunteers rendering emergency medical or non-medical care at the scene of an emergency.

            Also approved without opposition was spending $31,674 for renovation and $5,175.59 for carpeting and blinds in Suite B, a room which is part of the OVA office with a separate entrance on Laurel Leaf Place.