Park and ride open for homeless people in Rohnert Park

ROHNERT PARK, CA — A portion of the Roberts Lake Park and Ride has reopened to the homeless, the city of Rohnert Park announced.

There were 30 spaces available on the property and all had been occupied by people staying in nearby camps as of last week as the city worked to clean up and fence off these high-risk camps.

“We have issued a 48-hour notice to those who have not relocated and are providing shelter in Redwood Gospel Mission and transportation,” the city said Wednesday.

To address safety concerns, a privacy fence was erected separating the camp from the SMART line and Roberts Lake Road.

The park-and-ride site will provide port-a-potties, hand-washing stations and regular garbage and debris clean-ups, and residents of the property will be lined up to ensure emergency vehicles have access if needed, the city said.

On Monday, the city asked residents interested in helping people on the park-and-ride site to check with Unsheltered Friends Outreach, or UFO, a nonprofit Rohnert Park organization that works with the city’s homeless .

“Please do not bring any items to the Park and Ride and leave them there, including sofas and mattresses,” city officials said. “Dumping such material is illegal and contributes to the accumulation of waste that we must dispose of. If you would like to provide food or items that you think may be useful, please contact UFO at 623-3922 or [email protected] first.”

For more information on how community members can help, see the city’s website.

City address questions about Park and Ride parking lots

1. Why didn’t the city do this sooner? Why did you remove them from the Park and Ride site last year? What has changed?

“We have reviewed options and have concluded that the Park and Ride site is currently the most viable site available considering factors such as safety and public health, particularly with an additional 6ft fence to enclose the Reduce risk from SMART trains and traffic on Roberts Lake Road Additionally, by providing port-a-potty and hand-washing stations, we expect to reduce the number of people crossing the tracks to access facilities received will decrease significantly. When we closed the camp at the Park and Ride site last year, we were able to offer shelter or shelter to everyone there, which 24 agreed and 15 declined. We were able to close the property because we had those opportunities at the time. We don’t have enough of that today because not enough beds are available is one of the reasons we’re building Homekey’s shelter on the west side of town. We also heard concerns from the public about the closure of the bike lanes that would have required us are upset with our previous plan to address safety issues at this location and have heard frustrations about the state of the dog park. We and our service provider partners are working closely with those camping along Roberts Lake Road to encourage them to relocate to the safer Park and Ride area. We hope that the impact on the dog park and other surrounding public areas will be reduced by providing on-site sanitation stations and garbage collection.”

2. How long will this take?

“We don’t know how long the park and ride arrangements will remain in place. We connect people in this and other camps with shelters and shelters. In 2021, we placed over 50 people affected by homelessness in Rohnert Park into permanent housing and nearly 100 into emergency shelters. “

3. Why do you offer free housing? Doesn’t that attract more homeless people to Rohnert Park?

“Proper housing combined with supportive services is the solution to homelessness. And it’s not free; those housed in apartments must pay 1/3 of their income in rent, even if income is limited to state disability insurance or similar sources. The best data we have shows that nearly 90% of Sonoma County’s homeless are been here when they became homeless, most of them for more than 10 years.”

4. Why do homeless people have rights that regular taxpayers don’t have? Why can they leave their trash outside or do drugs in public when I would be arrested for the same things?

“While courts have ruled that people cannot be penalized for being homeless, those who experience homelessness have no additional rights. A few years ago, voters approved changes in state law that removed many minor crimes from being charged in the county jail. Additionally, with COVID, Sheriff Essick has requested that only violent crimes and certain misdemeanors be admitted to the county jail. The Department of Public Safety is accounting for all permissible offenses and will continue to enforce the law with proactive enforcement, which includes camp transits.”

5. What is the city doing about homelessness?

“The city is taking numerous steps summarized on our Homelessness website. Visit If you are interested in joining other community members working on solutions to homelessness, click here to learn more about the Rohnert Park Homelessness Roundtable.”

To report criminal activity at camps, please contact Rohnert Park Public Safety.

Rohnert Park Crime Tips Anonymous Hotline: [email protected] or 707-584-COPS (2677)

Rohnert Park Dispatch, non-emergency: 707-584-2600

Emergency: Call 911

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