Tonight at 5:30 p.m., the San Mateo City Council will hold a study session prior to their regularly scheduled meeting to address community concerns in regard to the possibility of a Methadone Clinic being located at the San Mateo County General Hospital site - which is a block away from Laurel Elementary School.
It will be an opportunity for this community to be heard by their city officials. But the chances that the study session will stop the County's plans to move forward on the project are dismal at best.
"The city has no jurisdiction over the county," said Capt. Mike Callagy of the San Mateo Police Department. Similar words were echoed by San Mateo County Board of County Supervisors Hill and Mike Nevin.
Recently at a town meeting with US Congressman Tom Lantos, the issue was brought up - allegations were made and questions were asked - and the answer to their concerns was that there was nothing that he would or could do about it.
"It's not part of my job description," Lantos said.
Tonight's study session will most likely prove to be more of the same.
Callagy said that his hopes is that their concern will lead them to get organized. "I Love to see it - people getting involved and asking questions," Callagy said.
He added that he hopes to be able to meet with the group - who have so quickly emerged to fight the Methadone Clinic - on a regular basis and that all this concern may lead to a neighborhood watchgroup. He added that the type of awareness that this group of concerned citizens have shown is in part what leads to crime-reduction in neighborhoods. "The stance the police are taking on it is, we're not for or against it," we're just here to help the community deal with it.
The community members who have been most vocal about the clinic have been residents who live within two blocks of County General.
Last June, the County Board of Supervisors made their plans known to the Beresford Homeowner's Association - a voluntary club for residents of the surrounding area - and the group did not verbalize support or resistance to the project. The community of Beresford is approximately one mile to the north of County General and Laurel Elementary School.
According to San Mateo County Supervisor Jerry Hill, it would not have made much difference if they had. The community was notified after the Supervisors had already voted on the project, Hill said.
The Supervisors went to the community to notify them of their plans, to address any concerns they may have had and to educate them about Methadone Clinic clients.
There are many issues that are still up in the air when it comes to the Methadone Clinic. The County is still referring to the relocation of the Methadone Clinic to a trailer at the back of San Mateo County General in the 200 block of 37th Ave., as a backup plan.
One thing, however, is for certain, the Board of Supervisors would have fewer questions to answer now if the community felt as if they had been properly notified back in June.
Community members have repeatedly voiced that one of their major concerns is that they did not know about it earlier. They have gone so far as to say that it appeared as if they were purposefully kept in the dark about it.
According to Jill Wright, a community member, the Beresford Homeowner's Association was the wrong place to go in order to get an idea of what the community response would be.
"The reason no one protested sooner is because we didn't know about it," Wright said. She added that the lack of notification is in part what disturbs her most about the clinic.
Other community members have echoed her sentiments, saying that the Beresford Homeowner's Association does not accurately represent the community that will be directly affected by the clinic.
"[Hill] informed me that they were the neighborhood group representing us. I'm not a member. It's a voluntary thing. You pay dues and you're a member. No one who lives around here are members," Wright said.
She added that neither she or the others who live near the hospital were ever informed by the Homeowner's Association or the county about the Methadone Clinic prior to last month.
The Beresford Homeowner's Association boast to be the most active group of their kind in San Mateo. They hold regular meetings and they collect dues from their members. A spokesperson for the group was reported as saying that she felt neutral on the issue of the Methadone Clinic. She added, however, that she did not live that close by and that she is not quite sure how she would act if it were in her "own backyard."
The study session will be held at San Mateo City Hall at 330 West 20th Ave. in the Council Chambers.