Downtown Martinez Vagrancy Concerns
Leanne and I were able to meet with the new MPD Chief, Manjit Sappal to discuss the vagrancy and parking concerns Downtown. Sappal began with MPD on August 31 and has already began to aggressively tackling some of our downtown problems. I was happy to hear some fresh ideas. Here are a few of them:
1. As much foot patrol as possible. Having an officer our of the patrol car actually walking the streets.
2. Assigning a detective to handle the cases for repeatedly arrested people. It is usually the same few people causing the problems downtown and paperwork can sometimes fall through the cracks when it is at the DA. Assigning someone to follow up on cases could lead to mandatory recovery programs or a longer jail sentence for some of our regularly problematic vagrants.
3. Educating downtown merchants and employees so they know their rights as business owners and how to handle uncomfortable encounters correctly: MSM and Chief Sappal will work together to create a document or pamphlet that explains what is or isn’t illegal behavior and what to do when there is a problem.
4. Encourage merchants to stop hiring vagrants: Many store owners will hire some of our problematic people to help them with chores at their business such as sweeping, window cleaning etc. This is a kind gesture but it can sometime lead to trouble. We understand that some of out merchants may have developed a friendly relationship with these people so we want to provide them with other ways to help like putting them in contact with the Contra Costa Homeless Outreach program where they can get help and hopefully get back on their feet again.
October Downtown Martinez Small Business Owner’s Networking Forum
The date for our next networking forum has been set for October 14th @ 6:30pm. This is an opportunity for the downtown merchants to learn about the progress of our current projects and the details of the upcoming downtown events. On the agenda for this forum:
- Upcoming events: What. When. Where. And how to use them to drive sales in your business.
- Holiday marketing and merchandizing: Drawing shoppers to your small business with effective marketing and boosting sales with creative retail displays and unique gift ideas.
- Introduction to MPD Chief Manjit Sappal: Our new chief of police will speak about his plan for Downtown Martinez and how we can work together to create a safe and inviting Downtown.
New Business Incentive Programs and Business Licensing Fees Comparison
1. Downtown Business incentive programs: After taking a look at the program offered in Chowchilla, CA we are inspired to work with the city to possibly create some incentive programs of our own. Check out the link to the Chowchilla project here: http://www.mercedsunstar.com/news/local/community/chowchilla/article31359497.html
- Our next meeting will be 100% dedicated to this.
2. Fees comparison: We took a look at the Martinez business licensing fees compared to the fees in the surrounding areas and found that Martinez was slightly more expensive than many of the nearby cities. Perhaps we could include more benefits with the current fee or the it could be lowered. We will work with the city to see if we can offer a more competitive fee.
Our next meeting will be on Monday October 12th. To share any ideas or projects you'd like to see our group take on please email me at candice@ mainstreetmartinez.org.
-Candice Gliatto, MSM Economic Restructuring Committee Chair