San Rafael Police officials are trying a subtle method to curb bad behavior on the downtown streets. It's been gaining controversy, too. Should Novato's authorities try a similar approach?
Colorful paper maps of downtown San Rafael highlighting the city’s problematic “hot zones” have replaced the white paper liners placed in trays diners carry while receiving free meals every day at St. Vincent de Paul, a free dining room in San Rafael.
San Rafael Police Lieutenant Ralph Pata conceived the idea — which is one of the several ways the police are addressing issues involving downtown transients.
Last week, Pata described the anti-homelessness efforts underway to several San Rafael business owners — many who had become fed up with downtown quality of life issues — at a San Rafael Downtown Business Improvement District meeting.
"We developed a tray liner that says, ‘Hey, don’t go here,’ ” Pata said to the business owners. “We’re pretty much doing anything we can to try to bring some balance back so you guys can be profitable and do what you need to do.”
See an image of the map in the above slideshow.
The maps, a partnership between the police at St. Vincent de Paul, have a yellow column that says “please” remember the following:
- No dumpster diving behind any business, especially Hospice of Marin
- Use a toilet for your needs
- Don’t steal power form businesses of the city
- Clean up after yourself
- Don’t store your property in the city flower boxes
- Don’t drink alcohol in public — go to a bar if you need or want a drink
- No camping at Elks Club or San Rafael Hills
At the bottom of the column, white text inside a green circle says “Be a good neighbor!” and it includes the police’s emergency (911) and non emergency (485-3000) numbers.
“It’s our intention to have people living in the streets be aware of these issues becoming a problem in town,” said San Rafael Police Spokesperson Margo Rohrbacher.
She said with the tray liners, the diners now have the map and information in front of them while they eat their meals.
“It’s really simple when you think about it, but it’s a good way to get a message across rather than just posting a poster,” Rohrbacher said.
Rohrbacher said the map and message can be changed, depending on what the main issues are in town.
The first tray liners were introduced yesterday and will continue to be used during the free breakfast and lunch meals.
What do you think of the tactic? Do you think it will help with downtown San Rafael issues? Should Novato try the same tactic? Tell us in the Comments!
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