A total of 46 homeless individuals and their animals have been provided temporary housing in area motels in a pilot program implemented while they were forced to evacuate encampments along the banks of the rising Feather River last week.
Sutter County Sheriff's Department and Health and Human Services personnel assisted in transporting the individuals and their pets on Thursday morning, January 12, from public property south of Yuba City along the Feather River. The move came less than 24 hours after the Board of Supervisors approved a budget amendment to spend up to $100,000 on a pilot project proposed by Human Services Director Nancy O'Hara.
Health and Human Services staff obtained food from a local food bank and from other sources over the weekend. While the plan is to provide for a second week of motel rooms, the County is planning for a relocation strategy. Those who are making good progress and are closer to receiving permanent housing at the end of two weeks will continue to receive temporary shelter.
"We are looking at this project for those who have low barriers for transition to permanent housing and then we will look at a project for those who have higher barriers to permanent housing," O'Hara told the Board of Supervisors on January 10. She said the pilot program is aimed at those who have been homeless for less than a year, have an income, or who have medical needs that might qualify them for additional government assistance.
Behavioral Health Services staff are assessing individuals to determine if some qualify for housing services for the seriously mentally ill. Two homeless veterans may qualify for housing services through the Veterans Services Office and the Veterans Stand Down. Clean and sober living facilities have also been contacted regarding capacity.
O'Hara said the idea is to provide temporary shelter while encouraging and guiding individuals to be responsible for their everyday living needs other than shelter. She said some individuals may not want the assistance of temporary housing, and where that is the case, the County can use Code Enforcement to enforce the ban on camping along the river.
"I do think we need to have this (pilot program) alternative in place in order to enact that code enforcement," she said.
Board Chairman Jim Whiteaker noted that the County has been looking for successful models of how to assist the homeless from throughout the United States, and have found communities have tried many different programs with mixed results. "There's no one set program we can look at," he said. "This will be a start, but we have a lot of work ahead of us."
General Services staff were able to assist homeless individuals to save and store belongings that they could not take to the hotels.
The recent storms have resulted in garbage and debris collecting in the river bottoms. Clean-up efforts have begun to remove debris and garbage in the area near the levee and the river.
The County of Sutter operates its sandbag distribution sites throughout the winter months in anticipation of continuous and extended heavy rainfall events during which widespread flooding may occur.
Sand and sandbags are available to property owners and local businesses on a self-serve basis. Property owners and businesses are requested to take no more than 25 sandbags. These sandbags are not intended for commercial ventures or builders involved in new construction or development. Additional sandbags and sand are available, inexpensively, at most hardware and home improvement stores.
Visit the sandbag locations and policy page.
Sand and sandbags are available to the public at the following locations:
Visit our weather page for links to current river information.
U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Rhonda Burke [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Following a lengthy strategic planning and recruitment process, Scott Mitnick, who managed the City of Thousand Oaks for 11 years and currently works as a senior investment banker with a public finance company in Los Angeles, was appointed County Administrative Officer of the County of Sutter.
The Board of Supervisors voted 4-0 Tuesday night to approve a contract with Mitnick, whose 27 years in senior leadership positions in local government include a three-year stint as the Assistant City Manager of Yuba City in the late 1990s. The new CAO reported to work on Wednesday.
"Scott’s knowledge, experience and professionalism will benefit Sutter County tremendously," said Supervisor Dan Flores in recommending Mitnick’s hiring. "We were very impressed with his accomplishments and his directness, as were members of the citizen’s panel that interviewed him as part of the hiring process."
"Scott has a solid grasp on public financing, budgeting, labor relations, relations with elected leadership, relations with the public, and on the concept of team building," said Supervisor Jim Whiteaker, who joined Flores in making the recommendation to the full Board of Supervisors. "He helped a divided City Council in Thousand Oaks become stable, productive, and forward thinking. He sees the big picture and that is what you need in a CAO."
Mitnick emerged as the top candidate out of 26 who sought the position previously held by James Arkens, who was informed in October of 2015 his contract would not be renewed. Curtis Coad is the current interim CAO.
Mitnick’s career in public employment began as a Budget Analyst with the City of Brea in 1986. He worked for the City of Burbank for seven years as a Financial Analyst, Project Manager, Assistant to the City Manager, and Budget Officer.
From November of 1996 to December of 1999, Mitnick worked as the Administrative Services Director of Yuba City, where he functioned as the Assistant City Manager and the Finance Director.
He was hired as Deputy City Manager in Thousand Oaks in January of 2000, and served as Assistant City Manager from 2003 until his appointment as City Manager in 2005, a position he held until the City Council terminated his contract in July of 2016.
He is currently employed as a Managing Director in Public Finance in the Downtown Los Angeles office of St. Louis-based Stifel, Nicolaus and Company, Incorporated.
After a series of City Managers came and went in Thousand Oaks, Mitnick stepped in as interim. Recognizing an improved environment at City Hall, the City Council suspended a search for a City Manager and gave the full-time job to Mitnick. He helped a divided Thousand Oaks City Council work more efficiently, and guided the City of Thousand Oaks through the recession with a series of budget reductions that did not materially reduce public services. Mitnick is especially proud of the first-rate Executive Team he built over the past decade, along with the high-performance overall City organization that is well-respected throughout California
"After many years of working for cities, and the past few months in the private sector, I welcome this new and exciting opportunity to broaden my leadership abilities. I look forward to working with all County employees to implement Sutter County Board of Supervisors’ policies and goals. In addition, I embrace working collaboratively with other local governments, special districts, non-profits, private businesses, service clubs, residents, and others to improve the overall quality of life throughout Sutter County."
Supervisors Jim Whiteaker, Dan Flores, Larry Munger and Ron Sullenger voted to approve a contract with Mitnick. Supervisor Mat Conant, who was attending his first meeting as a new Board member and who was not involved in the recruitment process, abstained from voting.