It was great to have so many people participate in our first online group meeting!
Newly-elected County Supervisor Rich Desmond started the meeting by greeting everyone. He said he was very interested in the Empowerment Park project on Bell Street as well as the concept of roadway signage that would identify Arden Arcade. He noted his priorities as a new County Supervisor were:
- Covid pandemic. He mentioned the County Health webinar about vaccinations. He supports safe ro-opening of schools and the community post-Covid. He asks constituents to sign up for his newsletter.
- Homelessness. He is concerned about the proliferation of homelessness. He recognizes needs for affordable housing and for drug addiction and mental illness services. He wants the County to work together with the City of Sacramento.
- Roadways. He is disturbed that Arden Arcade's pavement conditions are among the worst in the state. He wants to get the roadways fixed, including providing pedestrian and transit projects.
- Law Enforcement Reform. As a retired law enforcement officer, he is thankful for our officers who risk their lives daily to protect the citizens of Sacramento County. He seeks fairness for all members of our diverse community.
Supervisor Desmond took questions from the audience about the recent problems with Car Sideshows. He asked people to call 911 if they see or hear any sideshows in progress, mentioned the new Sideshow Task Force and said there will be a webinar on this topic. Responding to questions about Arden Arcade and potential incorporation, he stated his interest in helping and supporting the community, gave his contact information and promised to meet with our group again when in-person meetings resume.
Paula Villescaz, a Trustee on the board of the San Juan Unified School District, mentioned her concern for getting kids back to school safely. She spoke of her support for the conversion of her board from its current status of at-large representation to one with members elected by district. She said she supports the change, but mentioned how progress has been slowed by the pandemic. Further discussion among the audience brought up the problem of increased crime in the community (many people are concerned about public safety) and mentioned the proliferation of commercial real estate signs, which are prone to graffiti and can contribute to blight.
The meeting also considered ideas for community members to gather safely for further conversations in 2021. Ideas included a food truck event, small group pop-up meetings in parks or front lawns (BYO chairs, sit socially-distanced, maybe even BBQ and pot luck), community walks/bike rides/car tours along the lines of the monthly "Walk The Square" event, park clean-ups, and perhaps even Music-in-the-Park happenings. Outreach to neighborhood associations and neighborhood watch groups remains significant - it can tap the power of neighbor-to-neighbor dialogue. The need to reach both established and yet-to-be-formed neighborhood groups was stressed. While there was enthusiasm for these kinds of activities, the audience was reminded that expanded activities will require additional volunteers.
The meeting concluded with a request for volunteers to become involved with the Advocates, at whatever levels of time and effort might work for the volunteer. For instance, there are opportunities to help with with online authoring. But even little activities like liking/commenting/sharing social media posts are welcome. At present, the group's very small budget is adequate for the minimal expenses of web site and social media functionality. Upping the ante to accommodate unlimited-time videoconferences, expand the online presence, become more active in community events, or host community meetings will require more resources and will necessitate fundraising activity. Based on the the positive response to this first digital session, another online meeting can be expected in the near future