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Oakmont Neighbors Worried Over Impact Of Homeless Relocation Plan On Community

OAKMONT (KPIX) - At Sonoma County's Los Guilicos campus, construction on the emergency outdoor shelter is well underway. The small cabins were getting put together just as neighbors were getting briefed on a plan that has a lot of people very upset.

"They are very angry about this," says Oakmont resident Heidi Klyn. "They think that the city has not done their diligence work of looking for more spots."

The meeting at the Oakmont Community Center started with an apology that there wasn't more space for the overflow crowd.

"Yeah, huge crowd," remarked Bob Anderson. "Never seen anything like this in this building."

Then, for about two hours, elected officials and county staff tried to ease concerns about a decision that will not be undone. About sixty of the more than 200 campers on Joe Rodota Trail, mostly women considered particularly vulnerable, will be coming to Los Guilicos, right across the highway from this community.

"I think the best question that was asked today is why the decision was made before they had a meeting like this," Anderson says of the crowd's questions for city leaders,

The top concerns were safety, security, fire risk, and what immediate impact the shelter might have on the area. The head of emergency management insisted that this is not just the trail encampment being moved across town.

"The images, the tents, all that stuff that you've seen in homeless encampments across the county, that's not what's going to be located there," said Sonoma Emergency Management Chief Christopher Godley.

The district supervisor, who has taken a lot of heat for the Board's decision, says she opposes the Los Guilicos plan, but intends to make it work, at least until the temporary shelter is scheduled to be removed on April 30th.

"You have my guarantee, to move it to a more appropriate location," Supervisor Susan Gorin told the crowd of the plan to have the shelter closed by May.

Some neighbors, however, are not convinced that will happen.

"If they've only come up with two sites, and only one was feasible, how are they going to come up with a huge site by the end of April," Klyn asks of the county plan.

Despite those questions, the plan is set and the promises have been made.

"I think there's a good effort to try to make it work," Anderson said of the county's effort. "Time will tell."

One last question from the crowd came from those who wanted to know how they could help. A neighborhood group is now organizing to do that, as well. The first residents of this temporary shelter could arrive at Los Guilicos as soon as Wednesday.

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