Sonoma Co. scraps proposed site for homeless shelter due to mustard gas canisters

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Friday, January 10, 2020
Proposed site for North Bay homeless shelter scrapped
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In Sonoma County, there was a crucial resignation in the effort to clear the Joe Rodota homeless encampment.

SONOMA COUNTY, Calif. (KGO) -- In Sonoma County, there was a crucial resignation in the effort to clear the Joe Rodota homeless encampment.

The County's Executive Director for the Community Development Commission Geoffrey Ross had been tasked with crafting the county's solution. Sources say that in a performance review, Wednesday, supervisors expressed concern over his lack of urgency.

With every passing day along the Joe Rodota Trail, pressure mounts on Sonoma County to find a solution and a place to move its 200 plus people.

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On Thursday, Supervisor James Gore showed off the county's latest disappointment. It is a county storage facility near the airport. Supervisors had hoped the area would serve as a shelter for the Rodota residents. But Wednesday, the county learned of mustard gas canisters beneath the concrete.

"No way we will have it out here, now," said Gore. "They are a vulnerable population. No way we can risk it with mustard gas and ordinance underground."

The County has promised a decision by Tuesday about where to put the Rodota homeless, with that decision looming, they still need a location.

The supervisors are now considering the Los Guilicos Park near Oakmont, which has plenty of land and some buildings but lies far out of town.

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"Putting them in the park is not the answer," said Dave Arcado, who owns a small market and delicatessen. "They would be welcome in my store but probably not in the community."

The supervisors are also considering a parking lot inside the Sonoma County Administration Center. There would be no nearby neighbors to complain. The sheriff's department is nearby. "It would be centralized. And appropriate because it would be close to services and the transportation line," said Supervisor Susan Gorin.

The supervisors already have a replacement in mind to take over for Geoffrey Ross.

Barbie Robinson is already the Director of Health Services.

On Tuesday, the Board will vote to give her an interim appointment.

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