Councilwoman Kate Colin stood in for Mayor Phillips who was unable to attend the meeting.
An update on the City’s Homelessness action plan, a topic proposed by Mayor Phillips, was presented by Stephanie Lovette the Economic Development Manager for the City. This plan which was presented on November 17th follows six things: (1) Santa Monica model to identify problem people and stop service for them ( 2) reunify people with their families and get them back home (3) in conjunction with the County, encourage swift implementation of mental health help (4) affordable housing assistance, rent vouchers, etc. (5) research vulnerability assessment noting, however, that without housing there is no point in doing this (6) pursue the idea of a community court system (St. Vincent’s does this now).
The City has looked at best practices throughout northern California, has hired a mental health person and has obtained funding for Downtown Streets Team. A “housing first” policy has been adopted by both the City and the County. There is now an every other month meeting of representatives of every city council. There are many efforts and a need to work together. The idea of bringing every thing together on one site is being discussed. The Detox center has to move.
Although there has been progress in helping individuals, the issues related to homelessness are still very much present on the streets because new people keep coming to the San Rafael.
Amy Likover of the Federation of Neighborhoods introduced discussion to the future of the Whistlestop Building. She suggested that perhaps Whistlestop, a good organization endorsed by the City in the General Plan, should move. Placing senior housing so close to the SMART train is not a good idea.
Then the Whistlestop building could be preserved and used as a train station along with other rent paying uses such as a county kiosk, bike coalition information stall, etc. The rents for these uses could help Whistlestop relocate. Hugo Landecker stated that the Heritage group would like the historic building to be saved and feels that the senior population would be better served with housing at a different location. Ray Lourber pointed out that north San Rafael has large part of the aging population and needs something like Whistlestop for this group. He feels that it is critical to have senior housing close to transportation. Kati Miller pointed out that this is a financial issue that required bankers, developers, etc to be involved. Nancy Mackle said that she will use Snapshot to send out dated for the Design Review and Planning Commission meetings on this issue.
The topic related to the impact of the downtown SMART train station proposed by Sara Jensen, representative of the San Pedro Road Coalition was deferred because there are to be two meetings on this topic, one on December 15, 2014 on the Civic Center station and one in January 20, 2015 on the downtown station.