Complaints from downtown San Rafael businesses and visitors have led to creation of a map that lists "hot zones" homeless residents are being asked to avoid.
The new map was developed by San Rafael police Lt. Ralph Pata and copies of it are now lining the tables of the St. Vincent de Paul Free Dining Room on B Street. Areas of concern include Fourth and B streets, Fourth and A streets and the Hospice by the Bay thrift store at 910 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael police Chief Diana Bishop said the fliers are a gentle way of asking people to act appropriately in the city, especially in the areas circled in red on the map.
"It's just a reminder to everyone that there are certain expectations in society," Bishop said.
She said most of the complaints the city receives about homeless residents are in regards to people defecating or urinating in public, drinking or being intoxicated, leaving their personal items strewn about or having dogs off-leash.
The fliers are meant to be a positive thing, encouraging the police department and homeless residents to work together, Pata said.
"It's very possible folks are just hanging out in that area and do not know that their behavior is offensive to people walking by," Pata said.
Suzanne Walker, associate director at St. Vincent de Paul, said the dining hall is cooperating with the police department's request in an effort to open the lines of communication between police and homeless people.
She said most of the people they serve are typically receptive to the police department's requests and respect Pata.
"Most of the people really understand and don't want to be a problem," Walker said. "They don't like be painted with the same brush as those people who are making it difficult for our residents and businesses."
St. Vincent de Paul makes about 700 meals a day, serving about 300 people. Officers are hoping enough people will see the fliers to spread the word.
In addition to listing the "hot zones," the flier asks people to "be a good neighbor" by doing the following: no Dumpster diving behind any business -- especially Hospice by the Bay's store -- use a toilet, don't steal power from businesses or the city, clean up after oneself, don't store property in the city flower boxes, don't drink alcohol in public -- go to a bar if a drink is wanted -- and don't camp at the Elks Club or in the San Rafael Hills.
Pata said homeless residents are encouraged to take part in making the city a better place for everyone.
"We really would like people to start taking more ownership in their neighborhood," Pata said.