In this second edition of 2019, Pacifica Voice shares invitations and provides articles on housing and homelessness.
Deirdre Martin invites us to City Council Goal Setting 3/9/19, the Peace People invite us to movie night and discussion 3/9/19, and family and friends of Monica Olsen invite us to her memorial mass 3/23/19.
Pacifica Voice looks at the 2/11/19 City Council meeting on RVs, shares an edited Pacifica Homeless Story by Marsha Murphy, prints San Mateo County’s position on homeless RV parking, and shows Sue Digre’s thoughts on affordable housing for people with developmental disabilities.
INVITATION TO CITY COUNCIL GOAL-SETTING SESSION 3/9/19
Lots happening in Pacifica in the 2018/19 year! The 2018/19 Council goals are still underway until June of this year; but in July, we begin a new year with new goals and a new council. Let us take this opportunity to reflect on all the progress we have made as a community: single-use plastic ban, divestment from fossil fuels and top weapon industries, and more.
In the spirit of progress and collaboration, I would like to invite you to join the City Council on Saturday, March 9th at the Pacifica Police Station for our annual Goal-Setting Session for the upcoming 2019/2020 year. Some of the items I would like to focus on this year include:
- climate adaptation and readiness
- fire safety regulations,
- housing and homelessness including RV parking for the vehicularly housed,
- general plan and coastal plan updates,
- and preservation of historical sites of interest.
This public meeting, with posted agenda on the city website, will:
- start with refreshments at 8:30 am,
- initiate council goal setting at 10:45 am,
- entertain public comments (limited to 3 minutes) 12:20- 1:20 pm,
- and resume goal setting after.
Hope to see you there!
PACIFICA PEACE PEOPLE
Pacifica Peace People came together in the summer of 2003 –a short while after the invasion of Iraq. Here it is sixteen years later, and we are still acting locally and globally for peace. We are a small organization, but we have a following that reaches far and wide in Pacifica.
For about 10 years, we have taken a Peace Ad out in the Pacifica Tribune. We now have about 500 signers to the ad, which is published every September in honor of International Peace Day- a day declared by the United Nations during which the aim is that war will be set aside for one day (Sept. 21st). This year the Pacifica Magazine will be running our Peace Ad. We have already begun to collect signatures. The donations we receive for the Peace Ad are turned into mini-grants for our local schools which use them for activities that promote peace and tolerance in our educational communities. Furthermore, we provide ideas and materials to elementary and junior high schools who want to participate in International Peace Day.
To further the goals of the Pacifica Peace People to create a kinder community, we have been involved with the homeless populations, undocumented immigrants, fair rental policies, high school career days, and events that educate the community on other topics that make Pacifica a place where we can learn together and think about ways to improve the lives of our residents.
We’d like to invite you to “Join the Conversation” on March 9 at the Sharp Park Library at 104 Hilton. Doors open at 6:30, with our 90 minute program beginning at 7:00 pm in the evening. We will be showing a brief video “U.S. Military Spending Explained with Legos,” and another short video on the “Real Harm of Global Arms Trade.” Both provide a springboard to thinking about building a peace economy, a time for discussion, and a chance to write postcards to out Congresswomen and other leaders who make these decisions. Light refreshments will be provided. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A TRIBUTE TO MONICA OLSEN from Ellen Hage and Karyl Eldridge
Photo: Sue Digre, Monica Olsen, Deliah McGrath, Ellen Hage, Jackie Speier
Monica Olsen, 85, long-time parishioner of St. Peter’s, passed away early on February 7 following a recent illness. Monica was considered a special jewel in the Faith in Action family, who “put her feet (in her) faith through her untiring social justice work.”
Karyl Eldridge says Monica had rare qualities that were unforgettable and unique. She was a lady of arresting delicacy and grace, known for her gentleness, kindness, and generosity of love. At the same time, she was incredibly resolute and fierce – with a backbone of steel, unbending commitment to fairness, a belief in the value of every human life, and conviction that we can build a better world together. That combination of softness and steel, delicacy and power could not help but amaze. Karyl states she will always cherish the memory of Monica’s quick laugh, her sheer radiance, and the glint in her eye that revealed her joy of being alive.
Monica was a teacher at Mercy High School in San Francisco. She taught the CCD Program at St. Peter’s Church for decades. Monica was also a healer, a Feldenkrais practitioner and instructor. She was often found at the Pacifica Community Center.
Monica cared deeply about the homeless, affordable housing issues, and the plight of immigrants seeking refuge. She was active in Faith in Action and Fair Rents 4 Pacifica/Pacifica Housing 4 All until her death. When once asked why she persevered so hard with her social justice work, Monica said, “When I meet Jesus, I want Him to know I followed in his footsteps as well as I could.”
Monica was a woman of deep faith, grace, and humility. She was an inspiration to all who knew her and is a great loss to our community. Her family suggests contributions in her memory be made to St. Peter’s Catholic Church and Faith In Action.
Memorial Mass planned: St. Peter Church, March 23, 11 AM.
PACIFICA COMMUNITY RESPONSE TO RV PARKING
At the 2/11/19 Pacifica City Council, the community responded to City Manager Kevin Woodhouse and his suggested ban on overnight recreational vehicle (RV) parking. There were 26 comments shared with City Council and staff.
Police Chief Dan Steidle reviewed the past study session and identified his perceived challenges to a “Safe Parking” program: funding, site, complaints, and public acceptance. Although not allotted formal time in the presentation, Pacifica Resource Center (PRC) Executive Director, Anita Rees, responded to the Chief and stated that this is not a parking issue, but a homelessness issue which impacts the quality of life for everyone in Pacifica and is exacerbated by the high cost of housing. Ms Rees then reviewed preliminary survey results of Pacifica’s RV residents:
- all are employed,
- 8 out of 11 were over age 50 with one over 70,
- 9 out of 11 called Pacifica their home and had immediate ties to our town,
- the greatest cause for their homeless status was the
- high cost of housing with the second cause either fire or death in the family.
Director Rees concluded that the PRC “cannot solve the homeless problem by ourselves”, but we should “wait on a unilateral ban” of RV parking, gather additional information, and “exhaust options before barricading a road (which) some use for survival.”
FUNDING is a concern. Mayor Sue Vaterlaus suggested a tax which would likely be unpopular. The Mayor expressed concerns for the cost of a project in San Jose; and she was informed by John Pedigo, Catholic Charities and associated with the San Jose Program, that the cost she cited actually covered many comprehensive San Jose homeless services. Reverend Pedigo suggested that the council’s deliberations be based on “verifiable facts”.
Former Mayor John Keener reported that “county funding would be successful” if the Pacifica Resource Center had both a city lot lease in hand and City Council support. Anita Rees confirmed funding from the county Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP) would be available in the spring.
SITE for parking and COMMUNITY ACCEPTANCE are necessary. Council member Sue Beckmeyer suggested private property owners offer sites, but Mayor Pro Tem Deirdre Martin reminded it would require rezoning. Mayor Vaterlaus suggested properties of the faith-based communities. Yet former Mayor John Keener’s proposal of using city property to lease to the PRC seemed the fastest course to investigate. Any “Safe Parking” site will reduce the number of RVs on city streets and thereby address public concerns.
WASTE AND TRASH. Although a Pacifica public record search for “complaints related to illegal dumping of human waste and/or used needles attributed to RVs (and) resulting in citation or code enforcement” yielded zero complaints, waste and trash issues are significant concerns. Current waste disposal sites in Half Moon Bay and South San Francisco are far away – the distance is a real barrier to their use. Anita Rees is investigating the possibility of a weekly truck to come to Pacifica for waste disposal. Council member Mary Bier is going to discuss a possible disposal site with staff at the Pacifica Water Treatment Plant.
THE PUBLIC COMMENTS were varied. Eight homeless RV residents shared their stories with city council and the public on February 11th – their stories are poignant, and one of those stories is repeated in the March edition of Pacifica Voice. Several community members offered solutions including compostable toilets, permit processes, support of local waste disposal and safe parking sites. Roger M. simply said, “Help these people and don’t give citations”.
Public support of homeless programs in Pacifica is imperative. This statement is from Council-member Bier: These are “our friends, our neighbors, (people who are) working here (and) lived here before. This is their home. They need a place to lay their head at night and sleep”. The City Council resolved to hold discussion of an RV parking ban and revisit the complex issue of homelessness and “Safe Parking” at the 3/9/19 City Council Goal Setting. City Manager Woodhouse said, “This is a huge directive.” Mayor Pro Tem Martin read a quote, “There are always solutions when you come from a place of kindness to work together.”
The Pacifica Voice sees clear, potential solutions to Police Chief Steidle’s challenges listed as funding, site, and waste/trash disposal. Community acceptance and support are also possible. The Voice suggests that “kind” Pacifica residents demonstrate that. Notify council members at council meetings and the 3/9/19 City Council Goal Setting that you favor the PRC plan for “Safe Parking and Rotational Shelters”.
A PACIFICA HOMELESS STORY. Edited by Marsha Murphy
My name is MB. I am a native-born Pacifican and my daughter is the third generation. I grew up in Linda Mar at a time when everyone was equal: neighbors helped neighbors, no rich or poor, no mega mansions.
I worked full time for the County and I rented an apartment in Sharp Park for many years. My parents died and left an inheritance, and I chose to retire early. I devoted time to my daughter’s school.
Things fell apart after a very bad investment decision 8 years ago. We were homeless, but someone gave us an old RV to keep a roof over our heads. We lived in the RV for the next 3 years.
I fought depression, and I tried to keep my daughter’s life as normal as possible. We used the car battery to run a lap top for her homework.
No one knows what it is like to be homeless unless you have been there. You never think it is going to happen to you. We moved every night to avoid complaints and expensive citations. It made me feel like crap: I fought stigma and accusations – lazy, mentally unstable, a loser, a failure. I found inventive ways to take a shower since you can’t get a job interview without a shower. Life was hard. We needed just one person to believe in us and give us a chance.
We finally moved to a house in Fairmont. It had no heat, and we shared it with 14 other people – it was a nightmare – but it was a roof over our heads and there were no police knocking at the door. We lived there almost 5 years.
I am happy to report that I’m now working, and I rent a room in a stable environment. My daughter got scholarships and will graduate from UC Santa Cruz in June – I am so proud. Please don’t push people down the road. Give the Pacifica Resource Center time to create homeless solutions.
Position Statement Health Care for the Homeless/Farmworker Health Program
February 07, 2019
Pacifica City Council;
We write on behalf of the Co-Applicant Board of the San Mateo County Health Care for the Homeless/Farmworker Health Program. As local community leaders, we oversee a federal program managed by San Mateo County to support the homeless and farm worker communities, and we have a special interest in the Coastside.
Homelessness is a serious, ongoing social concern in the Bay Area. With the lack of affordable housing, more and more individuals and families are being forced out of their current homes and either move from the area or become homeless. Many of the Bay Area residents now experiencing homelessness are stable community members who can simply no longer afford the high costs of housing. Furthermore, more and more San Mateo County residents are turning to their vehicles for a place to stay and sleep. The 2017 San Mateo County One Day Homeless Count found that over 65% of unsheltered homeless individuals were living/sleeping in their cars and RVs, a 34% increase from 2015. Even though the total count of unsheltered homeless persons in the County has continued to drop, the number and percentage of individuals living in their vehicles has increased.
Homeless persons living in their vehicles face an increased risk of trauma, health issues and displacement similar to other unsheltered homeless persons. Continuous moving of locations makes accessing health services and other support services difficult. To that end, the Health Care for the Homeless/Farmworker Health (HCH/FH) Program generally supports “Safe Parking” programs that provide safe, secure locations for vehicularly-housed homeless individuals and families to park and sleep. These programs further facilitate the provision of outreach and essential services to the families and individuals involved. To that end, the San Mateo County HCH/FH Program opposes efforts to ban overnight parking county-wide. Without holistic approaches to address the underlying issues, the individuals involved are simply put at a greater risk of harm, health issues, and permanent displacement.
The Board of the San Mateo County Health Care for the Homeless/Farmworker Health Program
Brian Greenberg, Ph.D.
HCH/FH Co-Applicant Board Chair
Mark Hubbell, New Year’s sunset 2019
HOUSING, DEVELOPMENTAL DISABILITY, and the AFFORDABLE HOUSING FUND.
On 2/12/19, the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors increased allocation to the Affordable Housing Fund by $14 million. This fund is specially earmarked for low and very-low income housing. Sue Digre and county residents with developmental disabilities (DD) attended the session to advocate for housing for the disabled. Here are some of Sue’s thoughts.
Developmental disabilities (DD) are diagnosed before age 18 and include Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, Angelman’s Syndrome, Williamson Syndrome, autism, and severe epilepsy among others. Distinct from medical and mental health disabilities, those with DD may require a variety of assistance in order to achieve as much independence as possible. Special “wrap around” services may be required for mobility, employability, and financial stability. Many daily activities others take for granted – paying bills or budgeting, buying groceries, housekeeping, accessing public transportation – may be very challenging for those with DD.
I have advocated for those with DD since 1990. Their capabilities and challenges are not readily apparent and therefore not often discussed. For this reason, their self-advocacy at local and county meetings is all the more important; but those with DD have additional barriers to participation – mandatory classes to attend, difficulty sitting for prolonged periods, difficulty speaking.
In spite of many agencies to assist those with DD, staffing and funding remain woefully inadequate. Our county does have two excellent nonprofit housing entities: Brilliant Corners which was conceived by PARCA, and Housing Choices. Both have great reputations but additional housing is needed. Relocating those with DD away from their community of birth would be traumatic – they would be leaving the social supports and local neighborhoods that are most familiar. It does take a village.