Common Ground Bursts Onto the Political Scene in Vallejo, Engaging County, City Officials and Police
It wasn’t a phone call left for a city or county official that may or may not be returned. Or a call to police dispatch that said there are 15 calls for service already on hold.
Tuesday night’s gathering at St. Basil’s gymnasium gave the community — at least 250 individuals, anyway — a chance to voice their concerns face-to-face with the Vallejo City Council, Solano County Supervisors, and law enforcement.
The... event, [organized by the seven year old IAF affiliate] Common Ground went well, with topics including homelessness, rising rents, and school safety.
“We were thrilled with the success of the evening,” said Common Ground member Cheryl Gewing.
“I think it was impactful to hear people’s personal stories and troubles they’re facing and trying to understand the process available to them,” said Councilmember Pippin Dew.
“I liked the sharing of the stories … that the community is involved and wants to work with us,” added Councilmember Rozzana Verder-Aliga.
Mayor Bob Sampayan said city officials were already aware of most of the issues presented, but it was positive to sit at a table “and hear the personalized stories.”
“I think it was awesome to have such a wide representation of people of the faith community, schools system, law enforcement, city and county leaders,” added Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, calling the event “anything but warm and fuzzy. It was the cold, hard truth about what’s happening in the community.”
Co-host Tazamisha Alexander said the packed room was indicative that the community and officials are willing to work together....
[Note: Common Ground is part of the Bay Area IAF. In collaboration with the Bay Area IAF, an interfaith delegation of clergy and seminarians from the Church Divinity School of the Pacific participated in the action as part of an intensive course on community organizing.]
For the second time in 2018, Marin Organizing Committee leaders stood on the front lines of the fight against astronomical rent increases that put in jeopardy the ability of Canal tenants to afford to stay in their homes. In August, right before the start of the school year, tenants of a different apartment complex received notice of a 40% increase in rent. MOC worked on a political strategy, including a press conference/rally with clergy and school district speakers and meetings with the tenants and public officials, that pressured the landlords into negotiating a better deal for the tenants. . In addition, MOC led the effort to establish, in Marin County territory as a first step, a ‘Just Cause Ordinance' that requires landlords to have a just cause for eviction. While this ordinance does not apply to rental housing in cities, the ordinance does include, for the first time, tracking of landlord activity across all Marin County.
In December, tenants at a second apartment complex in the Canal received notice of a 65% increase in rent to begin on February 1, 2019, as well as some eviction notices. In response, Marin Organizing Committee leaders took matters to San Rafael City Council and asked the City to implement a ‘just cause’ ordinance which would require the landlord to have a justified cause for eviction similar to that approved by the Marin County Board of Supervisors earlier in the fall. Furthermore, MOC leaders urged the City to provide county mediation between landlords and tenants when rent is increased more than 5% a year. At the City Council meeting, Mayor Gary Phillips publicly stated that the city would consider implementing both practices in upcoming months, and directed the City Attorney to research whether the City Council could enact an emergency moratorium on rent increases and evictions in the meantime.
San Rafael Activists Rally Against Canal 65% Rent Hike, Marin Independent Journal
300+ leaders of the Marin Organizing Committee gathered for a candlelight vigil to commemorate the end of a 10-year old temporary shelter program they established, REST, and the start of a new best-practice system of care to end homelessness in Marin County, called Housing Focused Shelter.
"Justice requires permanent housing over a temporary spot on a church floor," said Rev. Jan Reynolds, the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Rafael and member of Marin Organizing Committee.Read more
After the Dean and President of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), the Very Reverend Mark Richardson, participated in the school's community organizing course, he had this to say:Read more
In front of 300 Marin Organizing Committee leaders assembled at St. Raphael Catholic Church, Marin County Supervisor Damon Connelly (in bottom right photo) and Supervisor Katie Rice revealed that the County's next step in addressing the region's affordability crisis might be to require mediation for landlords seeking to raise the rent by more than 5%. This announcement followed a prior assembly convened by MOC leaders to address deportation and eviction threats faced by local immigrants, public testimony in Supervisor Board hearings, and multiple meetings with County Supervisors.Read more
With the goal of building support for the County to site, fund and operationalize a year-round shelter for 60 homeless men and women by 2018, leaders of Marin Organizing Committee (MOC) launched a signature campaign to reach 6,000 voters. Within five months, leaders had collected over 8,000 signature cards, and counting.Read more
MOC leaders actively supported the legislation last year, meeting with the author Assembly Member Alejo early in the process and securing the support of Assembly Member Marc Levine. Because few free and low-cost resources are available to families that want to apply or study for the written test, MOC leaders have taken matters into their own hands, meeting with DMV officials and preparing their own educational materials.Read more
MOC leaders presented their proposal to the San Anselmo Town Council Tuesday night, asking for the city's support. "We feel strongly that homelessness is a countywide issue and needs a countywide solution," said Meredith Parnell, leader from Congregation Rodef Sholom and MOC. She is part of team of leaders who will be making similar presentations to the cities of Tiburon and Fairfax.Read more