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Flyer Ridiculing Novato Homeless Encampment Posted At Nearby Shopping Center

NOVATO (KPIX) -- A Novato homeless encampment that has been in turmoil for the past year has come under attack once again. This time, a flyer ridiculing the campsite and its supposed benefits has been circulating.

John Sarris oversees Camp Compassion in Novato and he's not surprised about the flyer. He says he knows some Novato residents are not happy about the encampment and is worried about what a new Novato ordinance would do to his home.

"I'm not worried what people say about us," said Sarris. "We've had a year of abuse."

The flyer was posted at a nearby shopping center. It mocks the alleged perks of the encampment at Lee Gerner Park, including free view lots, prime Novato real estate, no HOA fees or property taxes.

While some may consider these tents a nuisance, Sarris says this site has given him the ability to start rebuilding his life.

"You know, I was messed up on drugs for a longtime and for the last year I've been clean and stability helped me the most. I'm living proof of that," said Sarris.

But now, he's in jeopardy of losing the place he calls home if the Novato City Council votes to approve an ordinance at its June 8 meeting. The proposed law would ban encampments from facilities deemed critical by the city, near streams and creeks and camping would only be allowed overnight.

Sarris says, "There's nowhere for us to sleep and they could probably enforce everything. I would imagine we would be sleeping at a neighborhood near you that night."

Some Novato residents have been vocal about the removal of this encampment altogether. One of the concerns is about how this community is environmentally impacting Novato Creek which runs through the site.

Others, though, are more sympathetic, saying it's a complicated situation with no easy solutions.

"Everybody deserves more than a homeless camp," said longtime Novato resident Robert Roberts. "They need housing and a roof over their head."

Meanwhile, Sarris has announced his candidacy to run for a seat on the Board of Supervisors. He say he wants to use the platform to advocate housing equality in Marin County.

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