A Turning Point

https://www.flickr.com/3sidesphotography/15941104202For some years, a few folk, down on their luck or simply seeking a wilderness home, have slipped up onto Montini Preserve or Sonoma Overlook lands each evening and made camp in the woods out of sight of the trails. Local legislation limits the enforcement of trespassing laws here; police and sheriff’s officers are ordinarily required to provide a place to which the evictees can relocate. A kind of leave-them-be approach has quietly endured.

Frequent fires on Montini this year have forced a sea change on policy, however. It has been decided that the risk to the town is simply too high. Going forward, the encampments will be removed and trespassing laws fully enforced.

There is universal regret among the many agencies and individuals that oversee and tend these areas. We are all deeply aware of the critical shortage of housing in Sonoma Valley and beyond and the complex needs of our local homeless residents. We’re working on it.

For more about this story, visit the Index Tribune’s take here.

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