Monday Morning Thoughts: Pushback on the Location of a Respite Center

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Mayor Lee introduces the concept of the respite center in March at the Chamber State of the City Address

The city in looking to address concerns about the homeless have developed the concept – initiated by Mayor Brett Lee where they have examined the feasibility of establishing a pilot project for a respite center for those individuals experiencing unsheltered homelessness in Davis.

The respite center as proposed would be comprised of two key components:

A day shelter consisting of modular units where individuals could spend the day and have access to bathrooms, showers, and laundry facilities

An overnight shelter consisting of sleeping cabins where individuals could spend the night

Some of the possible sites that were listed on an agenda item to came to council on July 30 included: 1813 Fifth Street, 3559 Second St, 24998 County Road 102, 1425 Wake Forest Drive and 504 Fifth Street.

Naturally there have been some objections to the location at 1813 Fifth Street, which is the Community Gardens and now more recently there are concerns about the 3559 Second Street location which is along the road under the Dave Pelz Bike Overcrossing.

Staff notes: “At present, the City is storing wood chips on the land. Figure 2 features a rendering that depicts a potential layout of the modular units at this location. Like the Fifth Street option, staff estimates that the day shelter could accommodate up to 40 individuals at one time and the overnight shelter could sleep up to 15 individuals.”

But this location has generated considerable pushback.

A Chance.org petition notes: “we strongly object to the City’s proposal to build a homeless shelter at 3559 Second Street (Dave Pelz bike overcrossing).”

They write: “This proposal has grossly neglected an utmost issue: the safety and security of our schoolchildren, the most vulnerable population.”

They note that this is a pedestrian and bike conduit “that more than 200 schoolchildren use to travel from south Davis to two elementary schools and one junior high school in east Davis.”

They continue: “The impact of proposed homeless shelter, including but not limited to sanitary risks, substance abuse, and potentially illegal activities, cannot be effectively shielded from our children. While we feel strongly that the issue of homelessness must be addressed in every city, we also believe that the safety of our children drastically outweighs the benefits of this proposed location.”

They add: “In order for this shelter to operate at its proposed location, the City must comply with a ZERO tolerance policy in order to protect our children’s safety, security and wellbeing, and prevent undue influences from illicit behavior. If one incident of public indecency or drug proliferation or any harm to a child occurs, residents will demand the immediate and complete closure of the homeless shelter. Furthermore, the good intention behind this shelter would pale in comparison to the huge financial consequences and prolonged litigation against the City of Davis and its taxpayers if such incidents occur.”

A letter to the paper also objects to this location.  They argue there is no regular bus service along Second Street, no close by medical facility, and the placement “is dead center of paths and trails serving the resident of the Mace Ranch, some of East Davis, and the main gateway into South Davis.”

They argue: “The existing documented evidence clearly shows what happens to residential areas that are adjacent to homeless facilities.”

In addition, they write, “I do not believe the city’s promises of robust staffing and supportive services. This city has a long track record of failure to deliver on promises made. Additionally, our police force is understaffed and has been for quite a while. To increase police patrols around this shelter the city must hire additional officers or take them from other patrols beats.”

Finally they note that the gathering area would “require major oversight and control of human waste, needles, drugs and alcohol. Also, there will be an increase violence, theft and unwanted behavior near residential areas.”

In response, Barbara Archer, the city’s Communications and Customer Service Manager, notes, “no decision has been made about a location for this program.”

However, the council and staff have started outreach and discussion about the subject.

“City Council has heard many concerns voiced by community members in the recent past and is taking steps to explore potential positive steps. They have directed staff to research options and provide information that will inform their decisions. This work is being done transparently and has been shared in publicly noticed meetings,” she said.

This subject will come up at an upcoming council meeting.

My brief thoughts on this.  First of all, I am largely agnostic on location.  I suspect that every location that the city picks for a facility will have reasons not to do it.  Just as every location for homeless services and housing will also get pushback.

This has been my concern with the Pacifico Discussion as well.  People have to have a place to live and sometimes they are going to be located near neighbors or families or children.  In the case of Pacifico, it seems the need to properly monitor and manage the facility is the overriding concern.

The letter writer talking about the lack of resources for police might keep in mind that locating the homeless population in a single location would actually save rather than cost resources.

The real question is whether this concept will improve the lives of homeless people and then the challenge is to find the best location to locate them.  I suspect all of those locations will present opposition with the ammunition to object.

—David M. Greenwald reporting


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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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21 thoughts on “Monday Morning Thoughts: Pushback on the Location of a Respite Center”

  1. Bill Marshall

    I have to “wonder” if 40 families of the 200 children could pass the “zero tolerance” policy demanded (however poorly expressed, grammatically)… I’m willing to bet that at least a few of those 200 children are more at risk of,

    require major oversight and control of human waste, needles, drugs and alcohol. Also, there will be an increase (sic) violence, theft and unwanted behavior near residential areas.

    the City must comply with a ZERO tolerance policy in order to protect our children’s safety, security and wellbeing (sic), and prevent undue influences from illicit behavior. If one incident of public indecency or drug proliferation or any harm to a child occurs, residents will demand the immediate and complete closure of the homeless shelter  parental home. Furthermore, the good intention behind this shelterparental homes would pale in comparison to the huge financial consequences and prolonged litigation against the City of Davis and its taxpayers if such incidents occur.

    The homeless are not much more a risk to children than their own families… scary, but consider exposure times, and what we are constantly seeing in the news… kids are at risk in their own homes… small %-age, but real…

     

  2. Alan Miller

    the safety of our children drastically outweighs the benefits of this proposed location.

    Thankfully, Davis is full of places without children, where we can stick the resputians.

  3. Alan Miller

    This location is also near the railroad tracks in an area without an access barrier (fence).  Though fences do nothing to stop people who really want to get to the other side.  A fairly large percentage of those killed along the railroad tracks in the last 30 years were so-called ‘homeless’ persons.  Just sayin’.

  4. Alan Miller

    Will this also be a ‘wet’ respite center?  Such as Paul’s Place is currently billing itself as a ‘wet’ housing project . . . and has thus lost my support.

    1. Alan Miller

      I believe that this is a “housing first” proposal

      Then I oppose it, as I do all ‘wet’ facilities.  Go ahead, criticize my stance.  Have at it, statistics and all.  Doesn’t change how bad an idea ‘housing first’ is.

        1. Ron Oertel

          From the “other” blog:

          In the staff report, “staff estimates that the day shelter could accommodate up to 40 individuals at one time and the overnight shelter could sleep up to 15 individuals” but with the addition of a camping area as suggested by council member Frerichs the site may be able to accommodate more.

          Shelters are housing, albeit intended to be temporary in duration.

        2. Ron Oertel

          A difference without distinction (at least from a community’s perspective). Also likely true for the “respite” center.

          The structures/shelters were described (by another commenter) as being similar to backyard garden sheds.

  5. Alan Miller

    “In order for this shelter to operate at its proposed location, the City must comply with a ZERO tolerance policy in order to protect our children’s safety, security and wellbeing, and prevent undue influences from illicit behavior. If one incident of public indecency or drug proliferation or any harm to a child occurs, residents will demand the immediate and complete closure of the homeless shelter. Furthermore, the good intention behind this shelter would pale in comparison to the huge financial consequences and prolonged litigation against the City of Davis and its taxpayers if such incidents occur.”

    Oh, you poor naive people.  I live within a few hundred feet of vagrant gathering/camping places.  I call the City dozens and dozens of times per year over issues of drinking, drug use, bike dis-assembly operations, garbage, erratic behavior, camping, yelling, throwing things, feces, fires.  Occasionally something is done.  Occasionally an officer does something.  Once or twice a year enough garbage builds up that a City crew comes and hauls it away.  Union Pacific doesn’t do sh*t.

    Most of the officers say they can’t do anything.  Most of the vagrants know their rights because HALs (homeless advocate lawyers) come around and tell them.  So they stay and do their thing.  I even had a couple camping in a wood structure next to a wood fence, hidden inside an 8-foot pile of dry brush — and they had candles burning inside!!!  The FIRE CHIEF wouldn’t do anything about it, because their hands were tied by a rule that they had to wait ten days — for OPEN FLAME in an illegal wood structure under dry brush by a wood fence by our homes!  F*ck, our nation has gone insane.

    So you think the City gives a cr*p about your threat of litigation on this?   HA-HA, HA-HA, HA-HA HA!

  6. Ron Glick

    The irony is that the city has the perfect place for this but doesn’t want to put it on the table. As I said in public comment they shouldn’t put it on the community garden they should put it city yard next door. No explanation has been given as to why that space isn’t a good idea. Sadly like the rest of the community the city itself doesn’t want to this in their own backyard.

    1. Mark West

      “No explanation has been given as to why that space isn’t a good idea.”

      Perhaps (though very unlikely) it is because they are in the process of contracting out all of the jobs based at the site and are planning on getting it ready for sale and redevelopment?

  7. Eric Gelber

    They argue: “The existing documented evidence clearly shows what happens to residential areas that are adjacent to homeless facilities.”

    What “documented evidence” is that? What residential area is this site “adjacent” to?

    What other social service program has a zero tolerance condition, as demanded?

    The biggest problem I see with this location is accessibility due to the remoteness. The remaining arguments raised would apply to any location and effectively ban any such homeless respite program from the city. I’m not sure why people think it’s preferable to have the homeless population without respite/shelter service available to them, leaving them to wander the streets without services and supports. People will express support for homeless services as long as they’re not in their backyard.

    1. Ron Oertel

       I’m not sure why people think it’s preferable to have the homeless population without respite/shelter service available to them, leaving them to wander the streets without services and supports.

      I suspect that most people don’t think that “either” of those options is preferable.  Most people just want to go about their lives without having to deal with problems caused by others.

      There’s a perception (based at least partly upon reality) that homeless individuals create more problems within a community than others do, on average.

      1. Ron Oertel

        To clarify, I suspect that most people aren’t opposed to respite/shelters, unless they perceive that it will create (or perhaps even exacerbate) problems for a community.

  8. Rik Keller

    This article states “First of all, I am largely agnostic on location.  I suspect that every location that the city picks for a facility will have reasons not to do it.  Just as every location for homeless services and housing will also get pushback.”

    This is a weird stance to take. Clearly, different  locations will have different benefits and drawbacks. This is one of THE most critical decisions for the success of entire process and the future facility.

    One problem with the process here is that City staff in the July memo seems to have prematurely ruled out 4 of the potential sites without adequate documentation of underlying reasons, and to have just focused on just one potential site.

    1. Alan Miller

      Palo Alto is doing/proposing the church lot thing.  Much opposition.

      Perhaps a layer in-between I-80 and the solar panels over it would be an ideal location.

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