Posted by Denise Halfacre, Farmers Central/Pioneer on October 17th from nextdoor.com
What follows is a post from Stephan Rezac, who recently lead a meeting at Ferns Park. Stephan Rezac takes proactive steps in solving problems of the homeless/ transient problems that continue at Ferns Park.
The information below will educate us all and may be a quide to help with these concerns…..
“On Thursday, October 17th, I worked with WPD Crime Prevention Specialist Mini Garcia to host a Neighborhood Watch meeting at Ferns Park. We had more than 75 people in attendance for a dialogue that lasted more than 2 hours.
I would first like to thank Chief of Police Derrek Kaff and his many staff that attended and were so incredibly gracious with their time, knowledge and answers to our many questions. Chief Kaff was recently appointed to the position “full time”…he had been the interim chief. Also in attendance were Lieutenant Anthony Cucchi, Sergeant Brett Hancock of the HOST group, the lieutenant and one of the sergeants supervising the patrol division and another officer…I apologize for not getting their names. The point is: WPD was well represented…and they listened. And they shared.
Also in attendance was City Councilman Rich Lansburgh, who serves as mayor pro tempore. He will serve as our next mayor. I personally thought it was great to have Rich there, and his straightforward answers to hard questions were very much appreciated. I’ve had many people tell me they were happy he was there, and that he corrected many of their misconceptions about the city council, particularly with the homeless issue. Mini Garcia talked about crime in general and how to be aware of things to prevent and report crime or suspicious activities. Chief Kaff gave a good summary of where our police department is at: At any one time, there are 4 patrol officers on duty, plus one sergeant. That means we have 5 officers patrolling the streets of Woodland. This level of WPD presence has not changed since Woodland had 20,000 residents, and we have about 60,000 now. Chief Kaff explained how WPD “triages” calls for service, which can affect response times.
The WPD administrative staff is down significantly from where it once was…from 24 people to 17 people. These are the people that support the badged officers.
Chief Kaff reported that overall crime is down this year compared to last year, but that the “visual” sense of Woodland “crime” has changed, primarily due to the visibility of the homeless/transient situation.
The number of calls that go to WPD…wow. WPD has handled 44% more calls so far this year than last year…without an increase in staff.
WPD is expecting a number of retirements in the future, and Chief Kaff explained the planning and preparation to assure continued service to Woodland without a decrease in staff.
Overall, I was extremely impressed with Chief Kaff. He is a 19 year veteran of WPD and clearly understands the issues and challenges regarding law enforcement in Woodland. He was honest and forthright in his answers and with the information he shared. The same goes for Lt. Cucchi and Sergeant Hancock. Let’s talk about the homeless/transient issue. Here are some things we learned:
There are about 300 homeless/transients in Woodland.
Chief Kaff reported that more than 50% of the service calls that WPD receives are to deal with homeless/transient related issues. (This is a horrible waste of resources for a city of 60,000…that a group of 300 people can be such a problem!)
The city has a social services manager, Kristen Cline, to help with homeless/transient issues. She can be reached at 530-661-7855. She is on the streets almost daily, often in the downtown area, so that she can get a better handle on what is going on with Woodland’s homeless/transient population. (I’ve heard some really good things about Kristen’s work.) She works closely with WPD and with HOST.
Based on interviews, the best assessment is that 70% to 80% of Woodland’s homeless/transients are actually from Woodland. (Based on my conversations with homeless people over the last year, I would have put the number at 80%-90% from Woodland. Very rarely do I encounter someone from out of the area.)
Some residents think that people are bused here by other communities/agencies, or that Woodland has a program to regularly receive bused in people…making Woodland a “dumping ground.” No one from WPD nor Rich Lansburgh knew of any such program.
While the most visible homeless/transient problem is in the old courthouse area, the fact is that there are many homeless encampments throughout Woodland. Sgt. Hancock reported that HOST has cleaned up “hundreds” of camp sites, hauling away many tons of garbage and debris. Please call and report any camp sites you may know about to the WPD non-emergency number: 530-666-2411.
So how is WPD and the City Council going to deal with the homeless/transients? Chief Kaff and Councilman Lansburgh were very clear: If the homeless don’t engage in services to help themselves, WPD is going to use available laws and tools to make them “very uncomfortable.”
Rich Lansburgh was very clear: the City Council has given direction to WPD to deal with the homeless/transient issue in this manner. The misconception is that the City Council doesn’t want to deal with this homeless issue, when, in fact, they do. What you see, my friends, is COUNTY apathy or inaction, not the City of Woodland. WPD would police the courthouse area if the County would let them.
WPD and the City Council are handcuffed by laws and propositions that have flooded our streets with criminals…AB109 and Prop 47 have reduced sentences for criminals, or changed felonies to misdemeanors, at the expense of safety for law abiding citizens. We need to take this fight to our state legislators. WPD and the City Council are also hampered by the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling about camping on public property if shelter beds aren’t available. Funding for overflow shelter beds is expected to expire in January.
Let’s talk about City vs. County issues for a bit:
Remember when all the homeless/transient camps were set up in the parking lot at 4th and Court? That is County property. The County changed the ordinances/rules for that site, banning camping/loitering at the parking lot. All of a sudden, WPD could enforce the rules! It got cleared out.
The County is also responsible for the properties at the old courthouse and the public defenders’ facility. If YOU want to see change in downtown on County property, you MUST put pressure on your County Supervisors to enact the same type of change as they did for the parking lot at 4th and Court.
I personally have learned that some of the County Supervisors, and some supervising/administrative employees within the county have the homeless/transient issue as a pet project…they feel sorry for them. Well…this is at the expense of Woodland residents. Enough is enough…it’s time to pressure your County Supervisors. Big time!
What about the new homeless project at 102 and Beamer?
The city has no money in the project. Period. Social services are a county issue, and always have been. Rich Lansburgh was very clear about this: the city does not provide health and human services, the County does!
The project is far from being funded…they need another 5+ million dollars. Funding is from state and federal grants, and donations. Again, keep in mind…this is a COUNTY project…that’s where the services come from.
It will be a long time before we see that site opened up. There is no timetable at this time.
Here is a resource listing:
If you see a crime in progress, always call 911. The WPD non-emergency line is 530-666-2411…you will get a 30 second recorded message before the non-emergency line is answered…be patient.
To schedule a Neighborhood Watch meeting for your park or neighborhood, contact Mini Garcia at 530-661-7875 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your city council people are:
Xochitl Rodriguez, Mayor (email@example.com)
Rich Lansburgh, Mayor Pro Tempore (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Angel Barajas, Council Member (email@example.com)
Enrique Fernandez, Council Member (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Tom Stallard, Council Member (email@example.com) Y
our Yolo County Board of Supervisors are:
Don Saylor, Chair (District 2) (west Davis, and west of Davis) (firstname.lastname@example.org) 530-666-8622 or 530-757-5556
Gary Sandy, Vice Chair (District 3) (south Woodland, and south and southeast of Woodland) (email@example.com) 530-666-8621
Duane Chamberlain (District 5) (north Woodland, and north and west of Woodland) (firstname.lastname@example.org) 530-666-8627
Jim Provenza (District 4) (east Davis, and east to West Sacramento) (email@example.com) 530-757-5554
Oscar Villegas (District 1) (West Sacramento, and south) (firstname.lastname@example.org) 916-375-6440
California state legislators in Yolo County:
Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, State Assembly, 4th District – 916-319-2004
Kevin McCarty, State Assembly, 7th District – 916-319-2007
Bill Dodd, State Senator, 3rd District – 916-651-4005
Richard Pan, State Senator, 6th District – 916-262-2904
Here is an action item list for YOU:
Contact all County Supervisors by email and phone – RELENTLESSLY – and ask that they change rules to ban homeless/transient camping and loitering on county property in Woodland, similar to what they accomplished at the parking lot at 4th and Court
Contact your state legislators – RELENTLESSLY – and ask that they change AB 109 and Prop 47!
Meet with your Woodland City Council person to find out where they stand on the homeless/transient issue…invite them to a meeting like we had at Ferns Park. I invited Rich Lansburgh, and I’m grateful he attended our meeting.
Report ALL homeless/transient camping or illegal activity to WPD immediately. EVERYTHING!
Work with Mini Garcia at WPD to plan a similar Neighborhood Watch meeting for your area.
I’ll work with any group in Woodland to explain what I’ve done in the Ferns Park area, and how I interact with WPD and with homeless/transients.”