For many Yuba City downtown businesses, homelessness has become something of an issue this year.
Members of the Yuba City Downtown Business Association conducted a town hall meeting with the Yuba City Police Department earlier in the week to discuss how businesses can best manage the ongoing homelessness situation.
“We’ve noticed a lot more homeless people in the downtown area, so we wanted to be proactive and work with the police department to educate ourselves and open up a dialogue with the experts on how we can help deter some of that,” said Sandee Drown, president of the Yuba City Downtown Business Association and owner of the Happy Viking. “We also wanted to learn more about how we can help the police department, so it was just about educating ourselves on how to properly deal with the situation.”
The meeting allowed business owners to ask questions directly to the department’s homeless liaison officer, Troy Koski. It allowed Koski to learn from them about what is affecting their businesses.
“I’ve been in this position for about nine months, and I’m learning more and more every day,” Koski said. “They are my eyes and ears because I can’t be everywhere, so the more I hear from them, the better I’m able to work with them.”
Koski educated business owners about how they should react to different situations, ways to deter ongoing vagrancy, and what the law allows for. Business owners were also given handouts with information for homeless individuals to help guide them to available resources in the area.
“I think the meeting alleviated frustration for everyone,” Drown said.
Drown said learning more about the penal codes and municipal codes helped her better understand some of the roadblocks law enforcement face in addressing the homeless issue. It also gave her a better idea on when the police should be called and when business owners should try to handle it themselves, or report through the city’s YC311 app.
“I think my biggest takeaway from the meeting was how accessible Koski was to us business owners,” Drown said. “I think a lot of times people don’t utilize those types of resources. We are fortunate to have those types of resources in the city, so I’d encourage people to reach out to the experts in the community.”
If there is an immediate issue, Koski advised business owners to call the department and request an officer to respond. Those with more general questions or feedback can direct their messages to him through email at email@example.com. The YC 311 app is also a tool that residents can use to notify the city about something going on in their neighborhood, whether it has to do with homeless individuals, potholes or shopping carts. Reports go directly to the department in charge of handling the particular issue.
With the resumption of indoor operations for many businesses in Sutter County this week, Drown said downtown business owners hope to see patrons return to Plumas Street.
“We are excited to be in the new tier, and this town hall was an opportunity to educate ourselves on how to make sure people want to come downtown and support our local businesses,” Drown said. “We really appreciate the community’s support.”