San Juan Ridge-ACT tackles community issues |

San Juan Ridge-ACT tackles community issues

The revival of a bus route that makes daily stops along the San Juan Ridge is the latest, and most visible, success of the San Juan Ridge Action Community Team.

But the organization, made up of Ridge residents, is dedicated to improving services and resources beyond transportation.

“We formed in 2017, with just a conversation,” said member Pat Leach, who also serves on the board of the North San Juan Fire Protection District. “We heard a lot of issues, and had some workshops.”

Leach said the group eventually identified four top issues: transportation, homelessness, substance abuse, and a lack of public restrooms.

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“A lot of what we do is as needed, pop-up type events,” she said.

Chief among those was multiple nights of a “warming shelter” for homeless residents during the bad weather this winter.

According to Leach, that opened 15 nights, with food and clothing and sleeping bags.

“The (county) brought us out cots,” she said. “ All in all, we had 78 overnight guests and served 308 meals.”

Another success cited by Leach was a cleanup of abandoned homeless camps in October 2018, with the help of Hospitality House.

“We got a dumpster from Waste Management,” she said. “Roo (Cantada) and I were wondering if anyone would help — and 40 people showed up! The amount of community spirit was overwhelming. It was a joyful day!”

The team filled that 40-yard dumpster and, according to Cantada, could easily have filled a second one.

Making better connections with the county has been a big focus, including better coordination of drug treatment and more frequent patrols by Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies. Members of SJR-ACT now go to the county’s Continuum of Care meetings and were actively involved in the Point In Time count.

“We gave away clothes and gift cards, brand new socks,” Leach said. “We identified 37 homeless individuals where the year before they only reached 12. … We know our guys.”

Another big focus, for Leach, has been on becoming fire-wise.

“We have 12 new FireWise communities up here that are working on certification,” she said. “We’re looking to connect the neighborhoods, and we’re working on a grant to get a fuel break up on Cruzon Grade.”

Other issues currently being worked on include getting better fire hydrants, and the creation of a business association. The next meeting of the SJR-ACT is this Wednesday, July 17, from 3-5 p.m. at the North San Juan Community Center. For more information, check the Facebook page at

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at

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