Horizon Shine RV Village

Horizon Shine RV Village

In a move to provide safe and humane conditions for the unhoused population of Sebastopol, clear Morris Street encampments, and prevent future unpermitted camping on city streets, on November 30, 2021, the Sebastopol City Council declared a Homeless Emergency and voted to enter into an agreement with Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) to develop and operate a one-year pilot program for an RV village at 845 Gravenstein Highway North (former AmeriGas site).

Christened Horizon Shine RV Village, the site opened in February 2022 and has space for up to 20 RVs and about 30 individuals. The village has bathrooms, sinks, showers, a dining tent / community hub, security cameras and a large fence surrounding the property.

SAVS set up the site, manages, supervises, and provides wrap-around services (a team-based, collaborative case management approach that provides support services such as referrals to counseling, food, health care, etc.) at the site. SAVS and volunteers provide a hot meal every day and a pantry that supplements the food that villagers buy and prepare on their own.

Visit Horizon Shine for more information.


How do I contact the operator of the RV Village Pilot Program?

The operator is Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS). The president of the Board is Adrienne Lauby. She can be reached at adrienne@sonomavillages.org. The RV Village is now open, and the 24-Hour hotline is (707) 889-8776. It is also posted on the front gate of the RV Village.

When and how was the RV Village Pilot Program approved?

On October 5, 2021 the City Council created the Ad Hoc Committee for the Unhoused. As a priority, the Ad Hoc Committee was asked to focus on identifying a viable alternate location for the RV dwellers on Morris Street. Soon after the October 5 meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee was approached by a local nonprofit that had received funding to provide services to the unhoused. The nonprofit, Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) offered to operate an RV Village to serve the Morris Street RV dwellers, using the $368,000 in funds it had been allocated. A condition of the arrangement was that the City provide the land to be used for the RV Village. Receipt of the funding required a letter of intent from the City of Sebastopol by November 1, 2021.The Ad Hoc Committee identified a likely location for the RV Village – the City-owned Public Works Storage Yard on Morris Street. At an October 27, 2021 Special City Council meeting, the City Council approved a proposal for a temporary RV Village Pilot Program, to be located at the Morris Street Public Works Storage Yard and operated by SAVS, and the letter of intent was provided to SAVS. After the October 27, 2021 meeting, the Ad Hoc Committee completed its assessment of the viability of the Public Works Storage Yard, and also explored a number of other possible locations. In November, St Vincent de Paul Sonoma County purchased the property at 845 Gravenstein Highway North, and offered to lease it to SAVS for one year to operate the RV Village Pilot Program. On November 30, 2021 the City Council approved the operation of the RV Village Pilot Program at the 845 Gravenstein Highway North site, with the final Agreement approved on December 7, 2021.

When will the RV Village be operational and how long will it be in operation?

Site set up for the RV Village occurred in January and early February of 2022. As of Friday February 18, 2022 the RV Village was fully occupied and operational. This is a one-year pilot program, scheduled to end in December 2022.

Why was the property at 845 Gravenstein Highway North selected?

The Ad Hoc Committee’s working parameters for a viable site were as follows: (1) at least a half acre, (2) relatively flat, (3) limited private residences nearby, (4) not a space that is already regularly used by the public or already occupied by renters, (5) fairly close to services (grocery store, bus line, etc), (6) preferably with electrical, water and sewer services, (7) easily fenced, and (8) inside the City limits or (maybe workable) just outside the City limits. This site met all parameters. The other site being considered (the City-owned Public Works Storage Yard) was smaller (a half acre rather than the approximately 1 acre size of the selected site), and was in the flood plain, making it a questionable location to place lived-in RVs, even temporarily and even with a strong evacuation plan in place.

How is the RV Village being funded?

Funding for operations of the RV Village Pilot Program is the responsibility of Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS). SAVS has confirmed receipt of funding through the Sonoma County Continuum of Care Board to operate the RV Village. Funds allocated to SAVS total $481,130.29 ($368,000 + $113,130.29). In addition, on December 7, 2021, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors allocated $80,000 to the City of Sebastopol for support of the RV Village. SAVS will seek additional funding as needed for operations of the RV Village.

Where can I find the written agreement between the City and the operator?

The final signed agreement, approved by the City of Sebastopol on December 7, 2021, can be found HERE.

Where can I find the layout plan for the RV Village?

The mockup and final layout can be found on the SAVS Horizon Shine webpage.

How has the community been notified about the RV Village?

Notification of the City Council meetings at which the RV Village proposal was considered was via the City’s website, through the City meeting notification subscription service, the City of Sebastopol e-newsletter, and social media, as is the case with all Sebastopol City Council meetings. The meetings were well-attended, and all included substantial public comment. At the November 30, 2021 meeting, where the final Agreement with SAVS was on the agenda, approximately 150 people were in attendance. Links to Archived City Council Meetings may be found on the City’s website here. The operator of the RV Village, Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) held a virtual community meeting on December 8, 2021. Notification for that meeting was provided through the City of Sebastopol e-newsletter, as well as through social media. There were approximately 100 in attendance. On December 14, 2021, SAVS provided a presentation and answered questions at a special meeting for the families of Sebastopol Charter School. The RV Village plans received local attention from the Press Democrat, which published articles on October 29, 2021, November 7, 2021, and November 29, 2021, providing additional distribution of information to the community.

What is the status of community outreach by the operator?

The outreach efforts by Sonoma Applied Village Services began in late October 2021. For the first month, the focus by SAVS was on neighbors of the Morris Street Public Works Storage Yard. Since November 30, 2021, when the City Council approved the 845 Gravenstein Highway North site, SAVS has focused on outreach to the neighbors in that area. Outreach has included multiple email and phone conversations, multiple group meetings, presentations at City Council meetings (October 27, 2021, November 30, 2021, and December 7, 2021), a community meeting held via zoom on December 8, 2021, and a focused zoom meeting for Sebastopol Charter School families on December 14, 2021. Links to Archived City Council Meetings may be found on the City’s website here. Over 100 people attended the two Community Meetings to ask questions, show support and get information. SAVS has made a commitment to develop, support, and meet at least monthly with a Community Advisory Committee. The first official meeting of the Advisory Committee was held on Wednesday, January 26 at 6:30 pm. A follow up meeting was held on February 9, 2022. SAVS has also continued to communicate individually with members of the community who have reached out to SAVS with questions and/or comments, in order to continue the process of listening, answering questions, and providing an open dialogue.

How will the RV Village be different than large vehicle/RV encampment that we have seen on Morris Street and adjacent areas?

Unlike a vehicle/RV encampment, this RV Village will be managed 24-hours a day, seven days a week by Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS). Program participants will have access to essential services such as portable toilets and handwashing stations, refuse containers, and showers, which will mitigate many of the public health and safety impacts that occur in encampments. SAVS will be responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the site and ensuring that participants keep personal belongings to a reasonable minimum. Additionally, wrap around services will be provided to help participants access community resources (i.e., referrals for alcohol and other drug (AOD) treatment and behavioral health) and to end their homelessness through housing navigation services.

How are the City and County working together to provide services to the unhoused?

City Councilmember Una Glass is the Sebastopol City Council’s appointee to the Sonoma County Continuum of Care. Through her participation in the Continuum of Care and as a result of other contacts between the City and the County, the City and County continue their separate and combined efforts to serve the unhoused. It was through the Continuum of Care that Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) received the funding that will cover operating costs of the RV Village. The County was the source of the $80,000 in funding provided directly to the City for support of the RV Village. The County also provides mental health support to Sebastopol through the Interdepartmental Multi-disciplinary Team (IMDT), which has been responsive to our police department, and will undoubtedly be responsive to the RV Village needs as capacity allows.

What is the Community Advisory Committee?

The agreement between the City and Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) recognizes the importance of neighbor and community engagement. The “Overview” portion of the agreement states that “excellent relationships with the neighbors and the community at large are essential” and that “SAVS recognizes as a specific goal for this site the following: the development and maintenance of a continuing productive and engaged relationship with immediate neighbors and with the greater Sebastopol community.” The Community Advisory Committee is key to this effort, as is made clear in the “Resident Rights and Responsibilities” section: “SAVS will develop a good neighbor policy in conjunction with the Community Advisory Committee and the Village Council. Littering outside the camp, hanging out in front of nearby shops and/or unwanted behavior toward individual neighbors are among the actions that may be prohibited.” SAVS began inviting neighbors to participate in the Community Advisory Committee after the City Council’s November 30, 2021 decision to approve the 845 Gravenstein Highway North location. That invitation was extended specifically at SAVS’s December 8, 2021 general meeting for the community, as well as at the December 14, 2021 meeting held for families of Sebastopol Charter School. SAVS has committed to monthly meetings with the Advisory Committee. These meetings began in January and February of 2022. Anyone interested in participating is encouraged to contact Adrienne Lauby: adrienne@sonomavillages.org.

How can we help?

An active group of Sebastopol Volunteer Advocates have been working with the Morris Street residents since June of 2021. They work in conjunction with Outreach staff from West County Community Services (WCCS) and SAVS. The Village has a strong mentorship program for individual residents. If you would like to get involved in these efforts, or have something specific to offer the Village, please contact Adrienne Lauby, adrienne@sonomavillages.org.

Who will be the operator?

In meetings on October 27, 2021, November 30, 2021, and December 7, 2021, the City Council approved Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) as the operator of this one-year pilot program.

What are the operator’s responsibilities?

Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) is responsible for program management functions such as intake/exit of participants, coordination of services/case management, coordination of site services with third party vendors (i.e., security, portable toilets/handwashing stations, fencing, waste management, RV disposal service), ensuring compliance with program rules, addressing any issues that arise in a timely manner, maintaining the cleanliness of the site, and developing and maintaining constructive relationships with neighbors and the larger Sebastopol community. Their most important function is to provide a safe and secure location for the Villagers, with wrap-around services in support of their individual life goals and future housing.

What screening protocols will be in place to protect individuals participating in the RV Village program as well as the public from COVID-19?

Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) has COVID-19 safety protocols including screening at intake, on-going monitoring, testing/vaccination coordination, and a plan for addressing any participants that are symptomatic, exposed, or test positive for COVID-19.

What services will be provided?

The RV Village provides basic services such as portable toilets/handwashing stations, showers, refuse containers, laundry service, and one meal per day, as well as wrap around services to connect participants with community resources and housing. The initial focus was getting the site set-up to welcome participants in February 2022. Planning is also underway to develop a housing strategy for participants to ensure a continuum of services beyond their stay at the RV Village.

Will there be quiet hours? Will there be a “code of conduct” or set rules for being in the RV Village?

Yes, there is a curfew, from 10pm to 6am each night. Yes, there are rules of conduct. Villagers sign a written agreement to abide by those rules as a condition of residing in the Village. Registered sex offenders are not allowed in the Village. Certain conduct leads to immediate expulsion: weapons, drug dealing, violence or open fires. For other offenses, a progressive discipline system is in force, with the rules enforced by the Village Council, Village Manager, On-Site Manager, and/or SAVS Board, as appropriate. This includes rule violations brought to the attention of the Village through neighbor complaints. All Villagers commit to a good neighbor policy. Neighbor complaints may be submitted directly to Village management via the 24/7 hotline (707-889-8776), or may be presented for discussion at the Community Advisory Committee meetings. SAVS has ultimate responsibility for enforcing Village rules.

Do vehicles need to be operational, registered, and insured? If the vehicle breaks down – will it be towed?

Vehicles that will be used as transportation by participants are required to be operational in order to enter the RV Village. Vehicles/RVs that will be used only as living spaces are not required to be operational. All vehicles, both operational and non-operational, will be required to be registered. All participants who intend to drive vehicles are required to have current driver’s licenses. Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) assists participants who are in need of a driver’s license or help with vehicle compliance (registration/insurance). Participants are required to work with SAVS on driver’s license and vehicle compliance as a condition of remaining in the RV Village. SAVS is required to comply with the City’s insurance requirements.

Will visitors be allowed?

Yes. The RV Village rules provide parameters on visitors to provide participants with flexibility while minimizing the impact on the neighborhood.

How many RVs and people will reside at the RV Village?

The RV Village accommodates 18 RVs. The maximum participants allowed under the contract between Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) and the City of Sebastopol is 35.

Will there be cars parked outside the RV Village?

No. All vehicles, lived in and transportation, are required to be parked inside the RV Village. That includes residents, visitors, volunteers, and the employees of Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS).

Will service animals or pets be allowed?

Yes. Service animals must be allowed by law. Pets are also allowed. Rules are established to make sure the presence of animals in the RV Village is conducive to a well-managed living environment for the Villagers and neighbors.

How long can participants be in the RV Village?

Length of stay will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis keeping in mind that the RV Village program is a 1-year pilot.

Will smoking be allowed?

Yes. An area is designated for smoking and monitored by Sonoma Applied Village Services.

What are the reporting requirements? Will these reports determine if the RV Village is closed or scaled (past/prior) to the one-year pilot?

The City’s agreement with Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) requires written quarterly reports as well as a final report. These reports are required to include the following: (1) Data on enrolled individuals at the RV Village, (2) A narrative statement containing descriptions of security incidents or those requiring Police Department involvement at the RV Village including interventions used to address issues, (3) Reports of conflicts or complaints from neighbors in the surrounding area, including a description of the resolution, (4) Challenges related to the physical shelter environment to be addressed by SAVS, the property owner, or other involved agencies or individuals, (5) A narrative description of the ongoing development of programmatic offerings at the RV Village, (6) A report on the status of any issues reported in the previous Quarterly Report that were not resolved at the time of that previous Quarterly Report, including updates on any resolution, (7) A description of significant safety or rule violations and all instances of physical violence, (8) A report on neighbor and community outreach engaged in by SAVS during the Quarter, including any specific important outstanding issues. The agreement also requires that SAVS submit to the City incident reports for significant rule violations (those that could lead to temporary or permanent suspension from the Village) by residents within five (5) calendar days, clearly stating; the date of the incident, the individual(s) involved, the nature of the incident, a description of staff intervention, client response, and a plan for follow-up or resolution. These reports are key to informing the City whether the Program is meeting its planned goals and outcomes.

Will this site have 24/7 security?

24/7 site supervision is provided by the staff of Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) with additional private security. Supervision/security is focused on the RV Village footprint. Security cameras are installed at the gates to the RV Village.

Will security be scaled up or down during the pilot program?

Private security is provided 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the first operating month. After this first month, security is provided overnight, during curfew hours. City staff along with Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) will revisit security needs once the RV Village is operational. The City has the authority under the contract with SAVS to require increased security if the City deems it necessary. However, SAVS and the City recognize that private security services are costly, and an increase in funding allocated to security may shorten the operational lifetime of the RV Village.

How do you plan to minimize impacts to the surrounding area?

24/7 site supervision is provided by Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) and a private security company for the RV Village. Based on the experiences of other similar managed operations in the County, the City and SAVS expect that impacts to the surrounding area will be minimal. That said, the City acknowledges that homelessness has impacted our community significantly for housed and un-housed community members. Public safety concerns in the area, regardless if they are connected to the RV Village, should be reported to the Police Department – non-emergency 707-829-4400 or 911 for urgent matters. All other concerns related to the Program should be directed to the 24-Hour hotline (707) 889-8776, which is also be posted on the outer gates of the RV Village.

Will drugs and alcohol be allowed?

Drugs and alcohol are not allowed in shared spaces at the RV Village. Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) does not monitor or control drug or alcohol use within the RVs occupied by participants, as these are private living spaces. Drug dealing is prohibited as a criminal activity. If an individual returns to the site under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, the individual is allowed on-site so long as their behavior does not present a threat to themselves or others. Driving under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol is reported by Sonoma Applied Village Services to the Sebastopol Police Department immediately.

Will there be an increased presence by the Sebastopol Police Department?

24/7 site supervision is provided via Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) and private security. Safety concerns are first addressed by staff and/or security and elevated to the Police Department, if necessary. The Sebastopol Police Department provides on-going support just as it does to all parts of the community.

Will there be a curfew?

Yes. Curfew is 10pm to 6am. During these hours, Villagers must have permission to leave Horizon Shine Village. Flexibility is provided to allow entry/exit for emergencies, and for Village residents who have job obligations or other commitments that require their absence during these hours. All entry/exits are logged and violations activate the Village disciplinary process.

Will searches be conducted?

No. Routine searches of program participants will not be conducted. If Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) and/or security observes suspicious behavior, a search may be conducted subject to the consent of the program participant. The Sebastopol Police Department is contacted in the event of criminal activity.

Will criminal background checks be conducted?

No. The law prohibits routine criminal background checks except under discrete circumstances (i.e., when an individual is detained by law enforcement). Registered Sex Offenders are not allowed in the RV Village. Sonoma Applied Village Services (SAVS) performs the necessary screening for this purpose only.

What other support does the City offer to the unhoused?

The City of Sebastopol recognizes that homelessness affects the entire community, most directly the unhoused themselves, but also businesses, neighbors, and the community at large. Sebastopol has long endeavored to be a leader in addressing issues of homelessness proactively, and has been recognized for its efforts by local and stateside leaders, including the Governor. A few of its efforts include Park Village, Elderberry Commons, the Homeless Outreach Program, and a Safe Overnight Parking program. Sebastopol is proud to be a city that has endeavored to do more than just “kick the can down the road” and is instead making substantive efforts to address homelessness, in a way that takes into consideration the health and safety needs of all in our community, the unhoused, businesses, and the community at large.

What is Park Village?

The City of Sebastopol, in partnership with West County Community Services (WCCS), upgraded an aging mobile home park owned by the City. It expanded housing on the site using donated trailers, installed a community building, engaged an on-site manager, a social worker, and provides “wrap-around” services. Incoming residents to the site are primarily homeless families. The goal of the program is to help families get on their feet and move on to permanent housing. Thanks to this program many families have cycled into apartments and houses freeing up the trailers to accommodate new families into the program. The City has funded this program with assistance from multiple public agencies and private donors. Park Village offers 10 housing “units” that are available without regard to ability to pay: 8 furnished, ready to move in RVs and 2 soon-to-be-completed 2 bedroom apartments. Also offered at a below-market rate are 2 RV pads available for those who have their own RVs. Visit the WCCS Park Village webpage for more information.

What is Elderberry Commons?

The County of Sonoma purchased the former Sebastopol Inn using California’s Project Homekey funds. The facility now provides 31 rooms for formerly homeless, health compromised individuals in a pleasant and attractive facility that includes extensive wrap around services. The City collaborated closely with the County on this project, holding multiple stakeholder meetings per month, coordinating responses to community concerns and working to engage local businesses as providers of services. Additionally, the City negotiated with the county and received $382,000 in funds to mitigate loss of TOT (transient occupancy or “bed tax”) funds related to the Sebastopol Inn. This site is funded through County, State, and Federal programs. Visit Sonoma County’s Project Homekey webpage for more information.

What is WCCS Homeless Outreach?

The City funded a contract with WCCS (West County Community Services) in fiscal year 21/22 for a homeless outreach social worker who is also tasked with coordinating homeless support efforts from the large number of volunteers and faith-based organizations that provide help to the homeless in Sebastopol. The WCCS outreach worker coordinates with the City’s Police Department to address homeless issues, endeavors to connect homeless individuals with services such as access to housing, food and counseling, and also provides a forum for information sharing between stakeholders. The goal of the program is to optimize efforts that get the unhoused’s lives back on track and reduce the population of individuals living on the streets.

What is the Safe Overnight Parking Program?

The City’s contract with WCCS includes oversight of an expanded safe overnight parking program for the vehicular unhoused. The City is fortunate to have safe overnight parking spaces already offered through Community Church. WCCS has begun the process of working with other local churches to add to that model program.