Sonoma County has reopened a section of the Joe Rodota Trail that runs from Sebastopol to Santa Rosa after closing it due to public safety concerns raised by homeless encampments there.

The county last week installed fencing in the former site of two encampments and said it has relocated people and in some cases moved them to shelter sites.

The section of the trail that had been closed on July 8 was along state Highway 12 between Dutton Avenue and Wright Road. Unsheltered residents there were given 72 hours to pack up their belongings and leave.

Gilbert Martinez, a spokesperson for the county, said the county is required to offer shelter for people when they want to shut down an encampment — though people have a right to refuse it — as is required under a 2019 Martin v. City of Boise federal appeals court ruling upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. For those who accepted, 71 people were moved to either congregated or un-congregated shelters or hotel rooms.

Though these particular encampments had no history of violence, Martinez said that a previous encampment along the trail resulted in a bicyclist receiving “extensive injuries” from being hit in the face. Martinez said that some people have been avoiding going along the trail out of safety concerns.

Calls and emails to two area homeless advocacy agencies for comment were not immediately returned.

Katy St. Clair got her start in journalism by working in the classifieds department at the East Bay Express during the height of alt weeklies, then sweet talked her way into becoming staff writer, submissions editor, and music editor. She has been a columnist in the East Bay Express, SF Weekly, and the San Francisco Examiner. Starting in 2015, she begrudgingly scaled the inverted pyramid at dailies such as the Vallejo Times-Herald, The Vacaville Reporter, and the Daily Republic. She has her own independent news site and blog that covers the delightfully dysfunctional town of Vallejo, California, where she also collaborates with the investigative team at Open Vallejo. A passionate advocate for people with developmental disabilities, she serves on both the Board of the Arc of Solano and the Arc of California. She lives in Vallejo.