A proposed redevelopment of an existing facility that would offer supportive services and other opportunities for people suffering from homelessness is headed to the Planning Commission next week, which will be asked to recommend the council adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration and approve planning applications.
The applicant is seeking to demolish the existing 2800-square-foot, single-story structure that also currently serves as transitional housing and a homeless services facility. The site is owned and operated by Davis Community Meals and Housing. It would then be replaced by a 16,928-square-foot, four-story facility that would serve the homeless and be multifunctional.
As redeveloped, the facility would provide additional housing and allow for expanded services for institutional non-profit and residential uses.
The single-story existing facility has a resource center, and one bathroom and shower for day use, along with limited community and kitchen facilities. There is one bedroom with four beds and a bathroom to house four women, and three bedrooms with a bathroom to house eight men. There is also a staff bedroom with a bathroom.
They are, as indicated, promising to turn it into a four-story house. The first floor would have an expanded resource center and two emergency shelters with double-occupancy bedrooms and 1 ¾ bathroom.
The second floor will have 10 transitional housing units—each a single occupancy bedroom, a shared kitchen, living and laundry room, three bathrooms and two half-baths, with two staff offices and a staff bedroom.
The third floor would have nine single permanent supportive housing, single -occupant fully equipped micro-dwellings. The fourth floor would have the same. All four floors would be served by an elevator. Two of the 18 units would be ADA accessible.
The proposed project would include four vehicle parking spaces, 28 bicycle parking spaces, storage, outdoor activity areas, and related site improvements.
In an interview last year with Bill Pride, the executive director of Davis Community Meals and Housing, he explained, “We’re going to be knocking down the existing facility that we’ve had for 25 years and rebuilding it so that we have an expanded resource center, a new and improved transitional housing program and two floors of permanent housing for folks.”
He said, “(Paul’s Place) is going to expand our ability to serve people better.”
As he described, the current building has between 35 and 70 folks a day going to the resource center. These are folks who need to do things like wash their clothes, take showers, use the bathroom. In the current facility “we have one bathroom and one shower and they’re both located in the same room.
“We have 20 people signing up for showers every morning,” he said. “They have to wait an hour, sometimes two, to take a shower before it’s their turn.”
He added that “we have two washers and two dryers for all the people that want to wash clothing and that type of thing.”
The first floor of the new building will be the resource center, Bill Pride explained. “That is going to have more showers, more bathrooms. More laundry facilities—more washers, more dryers,” he said. “People are going get their needs met in a much faster way.”
In the city’s Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration which was reviewed and circulated for public review, staff writes, “Appropriate mitigation measures were identified and incorporated and reduced all potential impacts to a less than significant level.”
However, the study determined “that the potential impacts would be less than significant or less than significant with mitigation and that no further environmental review was required.”
The General Plan designation of the project site is Residential Medium High Density. The existing facility is consistent with the existing land use designation which allows for residential and institutional uses. “The proposed project would continue the existing use, but in a larger facility with additional housing and beds and improved homeless services.”
The Residential Medium High category allows a density range of 13.45-23.99 du/net acre without density bonus and 16.80-29.99 du/net acre with density bonus. However, “Staff finds that the proposed multifunctional homeless facility with its combination of transitional housing and supportive services is an institutional use akin to a residential care facility not subject to the density limitations and that it would consistent with its General Plan designation.”
The project’s size and location has drawn some pushback in the community.
There is a comment attached in the staff report, “The proposed enlargement of the homeless shelter at 111 H St., (Paul’s Place) would not serve their clients well. A very large HUD study in 2015 concluded that 45% of the homeless population suffers from mental illness.
“The expansion of Paul’s Place from 4 to 32 beds means that statistically there will be 14 clients with mental illness in one setting. Several multi-state studies showed that mentally ill populations are best served in settings of 6 or less, such as at Pine Tree Gardens on 11th St.”
But former Mayor Robb Davis who helped design this concept pointed out in an op-ed last year, “The number of people at significant risk for long-term homelessness continues to grow in our community. In January 2019, the most recent Yolo County Point-in-Time Count reported more than a 20% increase in Davis’ homeless population since 2017.”
He argued, “Paul’s Place will replace the current outmoded building with a modern, attractive and more efficient facility to provide critical day services, health and human resources, emergency shelter, transitional housing and permanent supportive housing to people living homeless in Davis. Featuring an innovative, vertical micro-housing approach, Paul’s Place will move more people from homelessness to housing.”
—David M. Greenwald reporting