Full Plate

Seeking solutions from COVID to homelessness

By Rich Desmond
March 2021

Since joining the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors in January, I’ve settled in and begun the serious work of representing our District 3 unincorporated communities of Arden-Arcade, Carmichael, North Highlands, Foothill Farms and Fair Oaks.

Residents of these communities depend on the county for many essential services, including public safety, waste management and roadway maintenance. I will be accessible and responsive to every diverse neighborhood. That’s a promise, and I expect you to hold me accountable.

During my first year, I plan to focus on getting us safely through the COVID-19 pandemic and revitalizing our local economy. Another major objective will involve working on solutions to reduce homelessness.

Yes, homelessness is a regional crisis. It doesn’t stop at city or county boundaries. We must work collaboratively with the city of Sacramento and other municipalities to meet the challenge compassionately and with a multifaceted approach.

We will need to consider innovative ways to help people get off the streets and out of the American River Parkway, and into safe sleeping centers and supportive housing. And we need more tools and resources to help people who suffer from addiction and mental illness. They need placement in meaningful treatment programs.

There’s nothing compassionate about allowing people with untreated illnesses to live in squalor on our streets and open spaces, where they are vulnerable to everything from violent crime to cold wet weather.

Another major concern for me is the condition of our roadways. We have a $789 million maintenance backlog on unincorporated roadways. I want to find ways to reduce this backlog and fix our roads.

Safe and well-maintained streets and roads are essential for quality of life in our neighborhoods. Local businesses can’t succeed if the public infrastructure is failing. I will be a staunch advocate for the completion of Sacramento County Department of Transportation projects, including the Fair Oaks Boulevard Complete Streets Project from Howe Avenue to Monroe Street and the Arden Way Complete Streets Project.

It’s imperative that we improve these vital arterial roads while ensuring mobility and pedestrian safety. As many of you know, I believe in the fundamental premise that people deserve to travel safely from home to the places they work, shop and play.

The struggles of small businesses are an important challenge for me. Many local businesses have faced financial ruin during the pandemic with ever-changing health requirements and mandated closures. I am committed to being a voice for the small business community.

The county must strive to do a better job of creating conditions for economic success and streamlining local government requirements. I’m glad to see more businesses have been able to reopen safely. I hope in coming months we will see other merchants open back up.

Finally, I would be remiss if I did not address my concerns for public safety in District 3 and throughout the unincorporated portions of Sacramento County. During my first week in office, there were a series of incidents in our district that resulted in a sheriff’s deputy, county health inspector and sheriff’s K-9 all being senselessly killed, with two other deputies shot.

Unincorporated neighborhoods rely on the sheriff’s department for everyday public safety services. When called, deputies respond, whether the crime is violent or involving quality of life.

Public safety is deeply personal with me. As a retired law enforcement officer, I understand the desperate need of residents to keep their families, friends and businesses safe.

I will work hard to make sure the unincorporated portion of the county has the necessary officers to ensure their personal safety. At the same time, I will hold law enforcement officers and agencies accountable to the public, just as I did during my years with the California Highway Patrol, when I worked on legislation regarding law enforcement transparency and use of force.

Rich Desmond represents District 3 on the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. He can be reached at richdesmond@saccounty.net or (916) 874-5471.

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