A couple items for the week.
· A very light City Council Agenda with two presentations. The First will be on the Yolo County Emergency Medical Services Agency Annual Report (these are the folks who bring us ambulance services) and Yolo Transportation will be discussing the County Wide Capital Improvement Program. Short and easy!
· The Winters Police Department released a couple press releases this week on a couple issues. The first included a juvenile arrest regarding the break in at Berryessa Sporting Goods. The second involved a alert citizen who reported some strange folks dumping a stolen car in a neighborhood (both were arrested on car theft charges). The Police also arrested a suspect who was found with stolen items from a car burglary. In each case, information was reported by alert citizens.
· PG&E is installing the utilities to Starbucks, so that double macchiato latte is just around the corner for some lucky person!
· I attended the State-wide City Manager’s Conference this week in Southern California. The consensus on the top issues facing cities are Pension Liabilities, Housing, Transportation and Homelessness. The State is an absolute wreck in each of these areas and there does not seem to be a clear path on any of it.
· The State Department of Housing and Community Development has released its report card on affordable housing production for cities. In Yolo County, both Winters and West Sacramento received passing grades while Davis and Woodland landed on the naughty list. A good sign for us with pending legislation coming down which will result in State mandates for those not meeting certain housing goals.
A big take away from the City Manager’s Conference was the struggle that many communities are facing with homelessness and vagrancy in their communities. In many places it is epidemic and in Southern California it is everywhere. Downtown Los Angeles is practically one giant 10 block homeless encampment and the freeway overpasses literally have folks living on them.
The problem has many causes which need address. These include but are not limited to the following:
· Lack of affordable housing in the urban and suburban areas. People in need and on the streets will congregate near social and safety net services, which means the more populated zones. When affordable housing is not present, they simply live on the streets, inside storm culverts, under/on bridges or any place they can find.
· Mental health help in California is really under-funded. Many of those on the streets are dealing with mental and substance issues. Many of these folks used to be housed in prisons and were released under AB109 with the promise that there would be increased funding toward mental and health programs. The State has not followed through on these safety net assistance programs and these people are left to fend for themselves.
· Basic economics and a vast divide in income levels. There really are the haves and have not’s in our society and those who cannot afford housing are fending for themselves. Many families end up living in their cars which includes children.
There are many contributing factors including the shear lack of housing production following in the economic collapse of 2008 and the end of programs such as community redevelopment agencies which were the key production vehicles for local affordable projects.
It was a very eye opening topic for me at this conference and a struggle which California will be dealing with for some time.