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Morris Street Changes Since Nov 7


As always, remember that I do not speak for the full City Council. I am one of five. The contents here reflect my own observations as an individual elected who has been appointed to the Ad Hoc Committee for the Unhoused. Final decisions on this and other issues are made by the full City Council, at our public meetings. The next meeting, which is on the RV Village topic, is tonight (Tue Nov 30) at 6pm. The Staff Report and Zoom Link are HERE.  The STAFF REPORT is also provided separately here. 


Sun Nov 7: This was the date I posted my last update. At that point, the proposed RV Village location was the City-owned Public Works Storage Yard on Morris Street, behind Wischemann Hall and the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center Annex. The Ad Hoc Committee for the Unhoused had been directed on October 27 to investigate the viability of that location, and to also to seek out alternate locations for the RV Village. 

Wed Nov 17: After a week and a half of substantial outreach with neighbors and the nonprofit proposing to operate the RV Village site (SAVS - Sonoma Applied Village Services), on the evening of Wednesday November 17, the Ad Hoc Committee (Mayor Una Glass and Councilmember Diana Rich) came to the conclusion that the Public Works Storage Yard creates challenges that are insurmountable. 

Thu Nov 18: Jack Tibbetts, Executive Director of the nonprofit St Vincent de Paul, met with the Ad Hoc Committee and SAVS representatives to discuss support for the proposed RV Village. St Vincent de Paul stated an interest in purchasing the property at 845 Gravenstein Highway, and allowing SAVS to lease it on a temporary one-year basis for use as an RV Village for the RVs currently in the Morris Street area. St Vincent de Paul's long term goals for the property were uncertain, but would be within their mission. The possibility of affordable housing was mentioned. SAVS expressed its support for the proposal, and its willingness to operate the site for a year, using the $368,000 in funding it had from the Continuum of Care.

The Ad Hoc Committee confirmed that the site met the Committee's working parameters for a viable site: (1) at least a half acre (this site was almost a full acre), (2) relatively flat, (3) limited private residences nearby, (4) not a space that is already regularly used by the public or already occupied by renters, (5) fairly close to services (grocery store, bus line, etc), (6) preferably with electrical, water and sewer services, (7) easily fenced, and (8) inside the City limits or (maybe workable) just outside the City limits (this site was within the City limits). 

All agreed that until the property owner had agreed to the purchase, and the property was in escrow, the proposal would be uncertain and could not be considered viable. The Ad Hoc Committee agreed that if and when the purchase was in escrow, the Ad Hoc Committee would move forward to propose the new property site, and the arrangement offered by St Vincent de Paul and SAVS, to the full City Council. All were hopeful that this quick moving situation would resolve soon enough to allow the City Council to consider the new site/proposal at the November 30 City Council meeting. 

Fri-Wed Nov 19-24: St Vincent de Paul negotiated with the owner of the property at 845 Gravenstein Highway North, with a final purchase agreement arrived at and escrow begun on Wednesday November 24 (the day before Thanksgiving). The Ad Hoc Committee finalized the draft Staff Report for the November 30 meeting, making edits and modifications based on the very recent confirmation that 845 Gravenstein Highway North was an available site for the RV Village. The Ad Hoc Committee and City Staff decided to post the Staff Report immediately, in advance of the minimum notice time required under the Brown Act, because of the need to give the community as much advance notice as possible of the upcoming meeting where the new site and proposed arrangement would be considered and decided upon by the full City Council. 

Wed Nov 24: The day before Thanksgiving Day. The Staff Report is posted and distributed publicly. 

Thu Nov 25: Thanksgiving Day.

Sat Nov 27: The Saturday after Thanksgiving Day. Adrienne Lauby, president of SAVS, concerned about beginning outreach as quickly as possible to neighbors in the immediate vicinity of 845 Graventein Highway North, started door to door outreach. The Ad Hoc Committee also began outreach efforts. All were cognizant of the need to inform people as quickly as possible about the newly proposed site, and to encourage them to attend the November 30 City Council meeting where the full City Council would consider the proposal and decide whether to support it.

Mon Nov 29: SAVS and the Ad Hoc Committee met to discuss Staff Report and the status of the proposal.


Tue Nov 30: Tonight, at 6pm, the City Council will consider the viability of the newly proposed site and whether the proposal should be supported. The meeting page, with the Staff Report and Zoom Link, are HERE.

The Questions Being Presented at the City Council Meeting:

  • Is there a homeless emergency in the City of Sebastopol, specifically on Morris Street and Laguna Park Way that should be recognized by authorizing the Mayor to execute a Resolution Declaring a Homeless Emergency?
  • Is the PW Storage Yard still a viable option, given the concerns regarding Greenacre Homes, specifically as expressed by the Sonoma County Juvenile Justice Commission?
  • Is 845 Gravenstein Highway North a viable option, given how recently that opportunity has arisen and the relative uncertainties regarding acquisition?
  • What is the City Council’s decision regarding expenses for either the PW Storage Yard option or a lease obligation for 845 Gravenstein Highway North?
  • What is the City Council’s direction to Staff regarding parking changes on Morris Street and City-wide?

Please see the Updated SAVS Proposal (including tentative property layout plan) and SAVS Overview Presentation for details about how SAVS's set up and operations proposal.   

Sat Dec 6: Escrow is scheduled to close on the 845 Gravenstein Highway North property. St Vincent de Paul will then have full ownership.

Mon Dec 8: This is the deadline for SAVS to provide the Continuum of Care with final information needed to retain the $368,000 in funding SAVS has been granted. 

Mid December: Anticipated date when St Vincent de Paul would give SAVS access to the new site.

Mid January: Anticipated date when RVs would be moved onto the site from Morris Street and Laguna Parkway. Selection will be based on seniority (amount of time present in Sebastopol) and willingness to accept the rules and expectations (behavior and otherwise) established by SAVS.

Due diligence regarding the newly proposed site: The Ad Hoc Committee and SAVS have already begun the process of reaching out to make sure all are aware of the City Council meeting tonight. If the City Council approves the proposal, SAVS and the Ad Hoc Commitee will move forward with a major outreach effort, focusing on getting input from immediate neighbors of the proposed site, from businesses on the other side of Gravenstein Highway North, and from the school about a half mile away. SAVS will take the lead in some of these efforts, and the Ad Hoc Committee will take the initiative in others. This update is part of that effort. We need to gather input from the community. 
Options if the 845 Gravenstein Highway North Site is not found to be viable by the City Council: The Ad Hoc Committee is confident no other alternate locations will become viable in the time remaining before the SAVS funding deadline arrives (December 8). The result if this newly presented site is not found to be acceptable by the City Council is that the situation on Morris Street and elsewhere in town will remain as it is today, with all its health and safety risk, for the RV dwellers and the rest of the community.
We want your input: Please review the STAFF REPORT and think about your concerns/questions/ideas. The Ad Hoc Committee and City Staff are working really hard to get all the details resolved as quickly as possible. Part of that process is reaching out to gather up as complete a list as possible of questions raised by the public (yes, that’s you again!). 
Focused on the goal - making a bad situation better: The goal is to deal in a constructive way with the untenable situation on Morris Street. It is unsanitary, insecure, and inhumane, and is now causing a public nuisance, for the RV dwellers as well as the rest of the community. 
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Your opportunities to share your thoughts and be involved are as follows:
  • Email Mary Gourley She will immediately forward your email to all City Councilmembers. 
  • Subscribe to the City Council meeting notices so you can be alerted to any City Council meetings on this topic. The subscription link is HERE.  
  • Attend the decision-making special City Council meeting tonight @6pm, when the Council will decide whether to support the new proposed site and arrangement. The Zoom Link is on the meeting page HERE.
Let’s make this really bad situation a better one. Sebastopol is a compassionate, proactive, collaborative, pragmatic community. We can do this.  

PD Article - Nov 30, 2021

Diana Rich, Sebastopol City Council
321 S. Main St. #60, Sebastopol CA 95472
707 861-0032
FPPC #1430199
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