City Council Posts Ritter Staff Report
The San Rafael City Council has released the staff report on the Ritter Center proposed operational changes. The three proposals reflect revising and moving some of the transactional services to reduce the intensity of activity at the site:
1. Relocate part of the food pantry services for non-housed clients to another location or provider.
SF Marin Food Bank can deliver those meals to other facilities in the County. However, this still allows Ritter to run the food pantry for housed clients, and that is about 200 portions per week.
2. Relocate showers/laundry services to another location or to mobile services.
Other counties offer mobile shower services and this is an option. Currently Ritter is the only free shower service in the County. It is the County’s responsibility to fund and organize a program to run a bus(es) around Marin with showers and laundry. As soon as that is set up, services at Ritter can cease.
3. Relocate mail services to the Post office or other location.
This service is not part of their Use Permit but it has led to issues with just anyone using the Ritter PO Box number without authorization and, by the implied residency, able to obtain General Assistance with the County. The real question here is why doesn’t the GA office call Ritter and verify a client before doling out the money? The GA program is undergoing changes soon to fill this gap.The City is proposing a new mail process instituted at Ritter that provides unique suite numbers for each client, rather than one main PO Box number that everyone knows.
The City is requesting a Memo of Understanding with Ritter to revise these services offerings. This shows Ritter’s willingness to work with the City to reduce their impact downtown.
But the City Can’t Revoke Their Permit
Legally, the City cannot revoke a Use Permit (in spite of all the posturing) without firm legal standing. And judging from the ongoing Permit reviews and reports, Ritter has complied with the parameters of their Use Permit. This is alluded to in the Staff Report (page 5):
Furthermore, the City Attorney has also met with Ritter’s counsel to discuss the potential modification/revocation. The attorneys have discussed the Use Permit’s legal status as a permanent vested right, and the City’s burden of proof in the event of a legal challenge to a modification or revocation of the permit.
So any change in their business activities is by mutual agreement. Hopefully this MOU is a moot point if another location comes through.
City Council Meeting Monday June 6 at 7 pm
Staff reports will be discussed at the meeting on Monday. It will be a long one.
Download the report on the Meetings page. Scroll through the agenda to find the Ritter report.
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