Lawsuit Filed to Prevent RV Village
This is a statement by me, as one elected City Councilperson. I do not speak on behalf of any other City Councilmember , and certainly not on behalf of the full City Council. This statement and the views and opinions it reflects are mine only.
The City learned Friday January 21 that a lawsuit was apparently filed*, seeking to prevent the RV Village at 845 Gravenstein Highway North from moving forward. The lawsuit requests various types of relief, ranging from an order that would temporarily delay the RV Village, to one that would set aside the RV Village decision entirely. One of the claims supporting delay is that "It will not harm the public interest for the Morris Street settlement to stay in its current location as the status quo while the Court resolves this Petition.” This is a claim that may not ring true for those who are neighbors and business owners in the Morris Street area and have suffered the consequences of that situation, as well as those who have seen first hand the distress being experienced by the unhoused population struggling to survive there.
*1/27/22 Update: Note that the City has not received or been served with an official endorsed file-stamped copy of the lawsuit. What has been received is a document that appears to be final but carries no official indication that it has been filed with the court. This is most likely a result of Sonoma County's current electronic filing system, which was implemented as a result of the pandemic, and causes some delays in the Court's filing system.
The group filing the lawsuit is “Friends of Northwest Sebastopol.” The only person identified is the president Zach Imbrogno, who lives just outside the City limits. I am uncertain about who else is involved with this effort, although I know from publicly available information that there are some Sebastopol citizens who have donated to the effort. There is no requirement that they disclose their identities.
Please understand that as a matter of principle I don’t object to anyone turning to the court system to resolve their concerns. That’s why we have the judicial system: to allow citizens to do just that. However, I have to admit that I’m really struggling with the idea of our having to use public funds to defend against this action, given that I know the City was not at fault. And of course the idea of delaying this really wonderful RV Village project, and all the benefits it would bring to the town, causes me great sadness. But in the end I truly do trust the judicial system to work it all out correctly.
I inform you of this development because many in this town have expressed major concern about the RVs on Morris Street and the surrounding area. The City heard those concerns and saw the devastating public nuisance developing on Morris Street and surrounding areas. We heard the voices of the advocates for the unhoused and all those in town who sent photos and complaints about the crimes and the unsafe and unsanitary conditions. There were so many voices, and we tried so hard to listen and respond to our town’s concerns. The claim that “it will not harm the public interest for the Morris Street settlement to stay in its current location” struck me as particularly important for you to know about, because it is so at odds with the reality of what was being reported to the City and documented by so many in this town.
Please know that the City will continue to pursue the course that best meets the needs of all in our town, including our residents, businesses, the unhoused, and the community at large. Of course, to the extent that a court issues an order directing the City to stop our efforts to move forward with the RV Village, which certainly could happen as a temporary measure, we will be forced to comply.
I know this will be frustrating for many who finally saw the Council and Staff working toward a City-wide solution to the lingering unsafe and unsanitary conditions on Morris Street and the surrounding areas, but I urge you to trust the legal process to produce the correct result. The City is confident in its position. I am certain that we are doing the right thing for this wonderful town, and that we will eventually prevail.
Please remember: This is a statement by me, as one elected City Councilperson. I do not speak on behalf of any other City Councilmember, and certainly not on behalf of the full City Council. This statement and the views and opinions it reflects are mine only.