Roberts Lake Park and Ride

October 31, 2022

Statement re: Labath Landing and Roberts Lake Encampment

Labath Landing opened on October 24. It provides interim housing and services to move adults experiencing homelessness into permanent housing. It has 60 rooms, including some that can accommodate couples. As of today, there are approximately 70 individuals living there. 48 were residing at the Roberts Lake encampment. 6 were from a Hinebaugh Creek encampment between Commerce and State Farm (near a pre-school.) This encampment is closed and has been cleaned. Everyone else were living in other encampments or vehicles in Rohnert Park.

While some have suggested that we force individuals to move elsewhere, the Courts have constrained the City’s authority to address the problems posed by encampments on public property. The 9th Circuit Court’s decision in Martin vs. Boise prohibits criminal enforcement of city-wide camping prohibitions where we cannot offer shelter.

We continue to reorganize the Roberts Lake encampment.

This includes:

  1. Limiting access to those who were living there as of October 11. We are not allowing new people to move into the encampment because the camp is already overcrowded. We are not offering safe parking spaces at the encampment.
  2. Moving campers to another part of the Park and Ride. We are designating camping spaces with tents to hold all belongings.
  3. Limiting visitors to the hours of 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Visitors and residents are required to check in before entering the site.
  4. Providing 24/7 security, which enforces requirements limiting visitors and materials.
  5. Removing trash and debris several times a week and providing portable toilets. This reduces trash throughout the City and use of restrooms in nearby businesses.
  6. Providing regular outreach to connect those at the encampment to shelter or housing.

Those who refuse to move to Labath Landing or decline a spot in the reorganized encampment will not be allowed to camp in the nearby park because the City prohibits camping in our parks. We are enforcing new rules prohibiting camping near schools, day care centers, creeks and safe sleeping areas (which includes Labath Landing and Roberts Lake.) The rules also prohibit blocking streets, sidewalks, and bike paths.

Labath Landing is funded almost entirely by the state, with the cooperation of the County and the Continuum of Care, the regional body with lead responsibility for addressing homelessness. Labath Landing is not large enough to house everyone experiencing homelessness in Rohnert Park. We are working with the Continuum of Care to access more interim and permanent housing. Permanent housing, with supportive services such as mental health counseling, help in managing medications, and help getting an income, is the ultimate solution to homelessness. Even those with low incomes are required to pay 30% of their income when placed in permanent housing.

As more interim and permanent housing becomes available, people from the camp will move out and we will eventually close the encampment. We are taking humane steps to address immediate concerns while making progress toward long-term solutions. We very much appreciate the collaboration from the County, the Continuum of Care, Unsheltered Friends Outreach from Rohnert Park, Catholic Charities’ HOST, SHARE Sonoma County and HomeFirst.