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Tuolumne Supervisors OK Homeless Properties, Also Pick New Leaders

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Sonora, CA – Tuolumne County Supervisors approved three property purchases to support their homelessness efforts and picked new board leaders.

Around ten people spoke at a public hearing regarding the three properties, two in Sonora and one in Jamestown. They include a building at 136 Columbia Way that will only house veterans, two homes on a parcel at 720 Snell Street, and the Jamestown Miner’s Motel on Highway 108. A major concern of those who spoke centered around health and safety issues regarding the properties. Those issues will depend on who buys these properties. District 2 Supervisor Ryan Campbell argued, “Chances are they’re going to rent these homes to people who are low-income, and you’re going to have the same kind of issues that have been raised here potentially, but the only difference is there’s nobody you can really appeal to to address those issues. Whereas when it’s there, it’s a public agency that’s administering it. At least there is a place to go; there is a number you can call to complain and hopefully get redress for the grievances that you have.”

The county will use grant funding to assist in purchasing the properties, but District Five Supervisor Jaron Brandon says that is not why the board is considering buying the properties, stating, “Everything we’re doing here is not to go chase grants. It’s to try to address an issue in our community that is negatively impacting families and kids, schools, businesses, and main streets, and try to do the best we can because it is hard. There is no fun solution in this that is going to make everybody happy.”

Also commenting was Sonora City Mayor Mark Plummer, who expressed that the city is opposed to the plan because it would put more and more homeless and similar unhoused people into Sonora, and the city would get none of the funding. Board Chair Kathleen Haff countered that she is looking for partnership with the city and imploring both to do better and not be fighting and at each other’s throats in attack mode when both share the problem. To the neighbors of these properties, she stated, “We aim to be successful, we aim to hold people accountable, we aim to be good neighbors, and through case management, we will do so.”

The board then voted unanimously in favor of purchasing each of the three properties.

The board also chose a new chair and vice chair for 2024. Last year’s vote was controversial, as the board passed over Jaron Brandon in its rotation for the Vice Chair position and voted in District 1 Supervisor David Goldemberg to the position. The board voted to move Goldemberg to the chair position, and Brandon was elected vice chair.

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