Dear Supervisors and Santa Rosa Council Members,
We, the undersigned, call upon you to find an immediate solution to the growing number of homeless encampments along the Joe Rodota Trail and other commuter and recreational multi-use pathways.
We understand that there are strict legal requirements and ethical considerations when displacing members of the homeless population. While we are sympathetic to those in need of housing and support services, we are very concerned that the Joe Rodota Trail has become a facility that many of us no longer feel comfortable or safe using. This was illustrated on May 15th when a local cyclist was physically assaulted on the pathway, suffering multiple facial fractures and other physical and psychological impacts.
Sonoma County, the City of Santa Rosa, and statewide agencies have made great efforts to encourage more people to walk and bike for everyday transportation, reducing local traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions and fostering a healthier and more active community. The current situation along the Joe Rodota Trail is not only counter-productive to these greater efforts, it presents an unsafe situation for existing pathway users.
Furthermore, Sonoma County residents have historically shown that we treasure our parks and open spaces. At a time when ensuring adequate funding to maintain our pathways remains a considerable challenge, we are concerned about the ongoing public investment required to monitor and clean up after illegal encampments.
We know that there are no easy solutions to our housing crisis and the growing number of homeless residents within our county. However, we are not willing to forfeit our pathways, parks and open spaces as a means to address this much larger problem. We urge you to be more aggressive about creating permanent housing opportunities and until longer-term solutions are in place, to sanction a suitable location for those in need of housing that does not restrict access to our beloved and publicly funded open spaces.
Thank you in advance for taking immediate steps to ensure our safety and enjoyment while using the Joe Rodota Trail and other multi-use pathways and trails countywide.
Concerned Citizens and Pathway Users