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The idea is to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 among the homeless community while providing them a “navigation center with wrap around services” as was done at the finly Center seen here, with a goal to get them into permanent housing.
The idea is to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 among the homeless community while providing them a “navigation center with wrap around services” as was done at the Finley community Center parking lot with a goal to get them into permanent housing. Images: Park - google park page photo. Aerial view of the homeless camp at Finley Community Center in Screenshot:

A Drug Free Tent City for Homeless in Guerneville River Park 

Jul 1, 2020
by Chuck Ramsey, Russian River Alliance


It feels like a return to summer with the crowds out enjoying themselves and helping our struggling businesses. It’s been a long road to get us back to some semblance of reality. 

They say you come out stronger after dealing with adversity. I guess that’s usually the case. This has been a learning experience watching the polarization getting worse, the debilitating long-term effects of fear, different counties responses to the pandemic and reopening and changing responses from the governor and local government. People need to look beyond the sensational headlines and dig deeper, look at different approaches, different experts, and above all use their own head to make decisions that work for them and that they think also work best for society. Strive to see both sides of an issue and arrive at a path that moves forward and has a better outcome than the present. 

A new local hot topic is the Guerneville River Park. This will become a tent city for 25 homeless people that will be managed by West County Community Services (WCCS) with 24/7 supervision and will be drug free. It will be open until 12/1/20 when the downtown shelter reopens at the Vets Hall. The idea is to help prevent the spread of Covid-19 among the homeless community while providing them a “navigation center with wrap around services” with a goal to get them into permanent housing. The Guerneville community response was once again not positive. There were resort businesses that are located next door to the park that are already struggling to survive and are already having issues with the local homeless. There are downtown merchants across the pedestrian bridge from the park that are already having issues. There is the BofA parking lot which also already has issues, and this is the same parking lot that WCCS has their office in. WCCS will “invite” those homeless people from the parking lot to move to the drug free River Park. Instead of our government helping hard working residents and businesses that have been through so much lately, instead of building community, we are getting a tent city. This is all under the guise of Covid-19 prevention. Our government has been less than transparent on who the most vulnerable populations impacted have been, mainly information on the four deaths. The county has said they did Covid-19 testing on the homeless population in West County and got very few positive results back. I don’t think anyone has an issue helping those down on their luck that need, want, and will avail themselves to help but most of us have an issue with the ones that don’t want help. We are not interested in enabling more destruction of our community, and we want greater transparency.

Another topic raising its head again is Low Flow. Brenda Adelman from the Russian River Watershed Protection Committee wants people to know that Sonoma County Water Agency is asking the State Water Resources Board for permission to lower minimum water flows from 85cfs to 70cfs, and possibly as low as 40cfs at Hacienda. Water flows at Hacienda were 88 cfs in mid-June. The water agency is stating that low water levels in Lake Mendocino is responsible for the request. Low Flows cause bacteria and toxins to accumulate, cause algal growth, and are not helpful for water recreation. 

Another government related entity, the Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) has been in existence over a year now. At their last meeting in June they were discussing Bylaws, Policies and Procedures, and Agenda setting process. I have some friends on the MAC board and one that recently resigned. When our problems have magnified exponentially recently, what has this group accomplished? Are our streets cleaner? Is crime down? Are the abandoned vehicles and unregistered RVs off our roads? Are our roads repaired? Are our businesses supported? Is our community safe, welcoming and thriving? Do we have streamlined procedures and low-cost financing for new septic tanks? Are the lights on at the Welcome to Russian River or Welcome to Vacation Wonderland signs?     

Some days are amazing though. When you least expect it, you wake up on a Monday morning to read that the Supreme Court just handed the LGBT community the biggest civil rights victory since marriage equality was passed. And this, from the new conservative court. Sad that it takes a court to broadly interpret a Civil Rights Act from 1964 to get it done in this country, but progress was finally made.

In other good news, you might have noticed the renovations ongoing at Northwood Lodge. Years ago, friends from San Francisco would travel to the Russian River for a getaway. Then later one of the friends, Alexandra Walterspiel, bought a house in Northwood just down the street from Northwood Lodge. Personally, I’ve always liked Northwood Lodge, but it usually seemed to be underutilized. Alex is CEO and Co-Founder of Imprint Hospitality, a boutique hotel and management company out of Denver. In November she notices that Northwood Lodge is on the market. The transformation since then has been amazing. The new Casa Secoya (Spanish for redwood) is accepting bookings July 1st. Aside from the hotel there are 3 duplex cabins in the back of the property for a total of 26 rooms. Yes, they are dog friendly and they will also have public EV charging stations! They plan on welcoming active lifestyle guests drawn to the area for hiking, biking, wine tasting, or just relaxing. Aside from meeting with Alex, I also met with Randy Marcotte. Randy’s husband Chris Hentschel will be the General Manager for the resort. With these folks running the show, the guest experience should also be great. A perfect addition to our hotel resort scene. We are fortunate to have several wonderful lodging operators in our hamlet. It’s always awesome to have people that recognize the unique potential that is Monte Rio and people that are committed to investing in our   

Vacation Wonderland, we just keep getting better.



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