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Posted on Jun 2, 2016 in Homeless | 3 comments

City Council Posts Ritter Staff Report

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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  1. This is nuts. WHy are we moving the services to different areas? Services should be centralized. Central San Rafael is the most accessible for everyone.

    • Because we can not take care of everybody. We should all share the resonsponsibiltis for people less fortunate. Let’s all Marin city’s participate .So they don’t have to travel so far. Plus look at San Rafael, all the merchants are closing up and going out of business, Go to downtown between 6am 8am. You think you are in a different country. Let’s build San Rafael up instead of tearing it down. These people really need help to help themselves not charity . Birgitta Loev

  2. I couldn.t agree more. This is Marin County not San Rafael county.
    Let’s think bigger.
    Also thank you Ritter house and all the people that have been supporting you.You are truly a blessing in this County and one more plus for Humanity. Your kindness helps to create more connectedness now so we don’t forget that we are people living with people. That will do more to heal and inspire then the internet will do to grab these people and fill them with hate and anger.
    And thank you St. Vincent kitchen and the St. Vincent DePaul Society these groups are all worth our endless support.
    I learned so much about kindness volunteering at the kitchen. I wasn’t sure I could do it and I was amazed how easy it was to be with the homeless or those in need. Even sitting at breakfast time and reading a book or playing a game on a piece of paper with one of the children gave my day more value.
    Actually working with the homeless dissolves the fear. I really recommend trying it from the inside.

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