Oakmont resident upset over new site for Sonoma County homeless camp

OAKMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- In two weeks, the empty parking lot of the Los Guilicos Juvenile Justice Campus, located near Oakmont, will be filled with new neighbors.

Up to 60 homeless people out of the more than 200, who currently live along the Joe Rodota Trail, could be relocated there when the trail is cleared by the end of January.

"I don't like it all. I think the homeless, I don't know where they all come from, they pay no taxes. And they want to have a choice where they are going to live?" says Margaret Ullrich, who has lived in Oakmont for the past 20 years.

RELATED: Sonoma Co. votes to move homeless camped along Joe Rodota Trail to Los Guilicos County Park

The decision comes after a 4-1 vote on Tuesday by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors in favor of setting up a three-month, temporary outdoor shelter at Los Guilicos. It's been approved to be open through the end of April.

Many residents in this retirement community say the new location is a poor choice. One reason is that it is next to the Valley of the Moon Children's Home, a center for children who been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, and a juvenile detention facility.

"I don't think they are going to set a good example for those children over there," says Ullrich.

The area is also isolated. There are no stores or restaurants nearby, just one small convenience store, which is a more than a mile away and difficult to get to, says Carlson.

"There is only a little market across a dangerous Highway 12, where they risk life and limb to get (to)," he says. "It's unnatural in the first place. There is no support mechanism. There is one bus a day that shows up in the area."
"So, it begs the question: Why did they did pick Los Guilicos when it has very inadequate public transportation and has no services, absolutely none on the site," says Sonoma County Supervisor Susan Gorin. Los Guilicos is in her district.

RELATED: Sonoma County Supervisors vote on $11.6 million plan to help homeless living on biking trail

She has been fielding phones and emails all day from Oakmont residents concerned about the safety and wondering what people living in a remote camp are expected to do all day. Her concern is with backlash if Los Guilicos turns into another Joe Rodota Trail.

"If something goes wrong, the community will not embrace any concept of permanent supportive housing for the population. And that's sad," explains Gorin.

The area was evacuated during the North Bay fires and impacted by all the recent PG&E power shutdowns. Despite all that, Oakmont homeowner Chris Sork says he is ready to welcome his new neighbors.

"We have had a juvenile hall facility (there) for decades. Having a homeless encampment that is supervised with security and way that they can get food and services and so forth, is really the only solution in the short term," says Sork.

Sonoma County will host a community meeting about the new site on Friday at 9 a.m. at the Berger Center in Oakmont.
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