Spitzer’s Homeless Shelter Proposal raises concerns. UPDATE: Anaheim City Council Agenda Tuesday!


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Residents of the Rio Vista neighborhood in East Anaheim are worried about the proposed homeless shelter [above] which is less than two miles away.  Many neighbors  feel that the location is too close and disagree with Spitzer’ assessment reported in the Voice of OC:

Located in a light industrial section of North Anaheim, the site is far from any residential neighborhood and is actually located near a strip club, Spitzer said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, alluding to the fact that other locations have been shot down due to their proximity to schools.

“If you can’t put this shelter a half a block from an all-nude strip club…in an all-commercial area…not near any homes, not near any schools, completely separated from residences by the 91 freeway and the Santa Ana River, then you probably can’t build it anywhere,” Spitzer said.

The closest businesses to the proposed site - piano store and strip club!

The closest businesses to the proposed site – piano store and strip club!

A freeway runs through it.

A freeway runs through it.

Is the proposed shelter REALLY too close to the Rio Vista neighborhood?

Is the proposed shelter REALLY too close to the Rio Vista neighborhood?

My recollection of homeless presence in the Rio Vista neighborhood  consists of a mentally ill lady, and the APD made sure that she could exercise her rights without disturbing the public. For years, another homeless person who seemed to be mentally challenged had made the local library his daytime home. Other than these isolated situations, homeless people were not a common sight in this area until the late recession, when some families lost their homes. One of them had their furniture placed in the front yard for several weeks when they were evicted and did not have a place to move their belongings. Businesses also closed down. The only grocery store nearby, a Ralph’s, has been vacated since then, and the partially empty local shopping mall became a frequent camping ground for the homeless.

This neighborhood is ethnically and socioeconomically diverse, and has felt abandoned by city hall, even more now that our District Neighborhood Council Meetings are mostly held in Anaheim Hills.  There was a feeling of being acknowledged when the area’s power undergrounding conversion was rescheduled for an earlier completion, and when the Anaheim Cove trail in the river was completed.  The long awaited safety improvements in the Lincoln Bridge was another uplifting event and Supervisor Spitzer was credited for having this project finally done, as the bridge is under the County’s jurisdiction.  There is significant crime activity nearby as reported by CrimeMapping.com

The magnitude of the shelter, a countywide one, has renewed the sense of a neglected neighborhood, and exacerbated the residents’ concerns about the negative perception attached to the homeless population. A respected and active neighbor sent me a summary of his reaction:

“Our little residential area is becoming a dumping ground for sex offenders and now it appears to be for the homeless. The facts:

  1. Nine registered sex offenders in a 1/2 mile square area bonded by the 91 and  57 Freeways, Lincoln Ave. and the Santa River.
  2. The area includes an Elementary School and Public Park frequented by sex offenders who have no other practical way to reach public transportation or just to visit the local, partially deserted strip mall.
  3. Yes, a strip club is located close to the proposed site. Its location was opposed by the local residents. We lost the battle because the area is classified as industrial. The same excuse used by Supervisor Spitzer.
  4. Supervisor Spitzer has never taken the time to visit our neighborhood. If he had, he would have realized that a river does not exist between the proposed homeless shelter and our residential neighborhood.
  5. The shelter is a 11-minute drive from the residential area.
  6. The proposed  countywide shelter is in an extreme north county area location. It should be more centrally located to better serve all of the county homeless.
  7. The proposed location is not well served by public transportation. At least, it should be located closer to the public bus route which operates on Tustin Ave and Amtrak a block away. The Kraemer bus is infrequent and a bus to nowhere.”

 

The neighborhood - two miles away and across a feeway.  Is it really too close?

The neighborhood – two miles away and across a feeway.

I don’t agree with the concept of homeless people being dumped, but this is the reality of how the general public reacts to shelter’s projects.  There are pro and cons for a large centralized or smaller spread out throughout the county locations. A centralized large one would on paper better utilize staffing resources and services.  Small ones would be geographically better as the county is a large one, which is the model used by the Social Services Agencies  in most counties, including Orange.  Also the causes and composition of the homeless population require more than establishing a shelter but policies addressing needs such as housing,  jobs, health services.

It is commendable that both supervisors Nelson and Spitzer want to show leadership in this issue, but the  Kraemer location may not be the most adequate solution for a countywide problem.  As David Zenger comments in the VOC:

“…building a permanent facility and investing tons of money is seen as the easiest way to show one’s care and concern, regardless of the efficacy of the final product.

In my view not enough attention (or virtually none) has been given to the idea of very local focus shelters that can hand out immediate support and close down when the need passes or the population moves elsewhere. If I am wrong, I would love to see the analysis that concludes a 20,000 sf central facility in some remote corner of the County is the wisest investment offering the best results.”

See update: /council-to-neighbors-of-anaheim-canyon-we-will-take-the-credit-you-will-take-the-burden/

ANAHEIM CITY COUNCIL AGENDA
APRIL 7, 2015
4:30 P.M.

CONSENT CALENDAR:
27. RESOLUTION NO. A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM offering support for the County of Orange’s efforts to develop a year-round homeless emergency shelter and multi-service center for North Orange County.

RESOLUTION NO 2015- _____

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM OFFERING SUPPORT FOR THE COUNTY OF ORANGE’S EFFORTS TO DEVELOP A YEAR-ROUND HOMELESS EMERGENCY SHELTER AND MULTI-SERVICE CENTER FOR NORTH ORANGE COUNTY

WHEREAS, non-profits, faith-based organizations, local governments, including the City of Anaheim and the County of Orange, are concerned about homelessness in Orange County and continue to work tirelessly to identify effective solutions that will result in permanent housing; and,

WHEREAS, while the ultimate goal is permanent housing for the homeless, there still is an urgent need for a year-round emergency shelter and multi-service center in North Orange County to meet the critical needs of the homeless and to address a pressing social issue that is deeply impacting local businesses and communities; and,

WHEREAS, the County has adopted a Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness including a strategy to develop year-round emergency shelters to replace the seasonal emergency shelter program; and,

WHEREAS, the County is considering a potential site within Anaheim’s City-limits, located in an industrial area of the Canyon Business Center, and though the County believes there is legal authority to establish an emergency shelter on any property it owns within the County, the County desires to work in a collaborative fashion and receive the support of local jurisdictions;

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Anaheim that it is supportive of the County of Orange’s effort to consider locating a year-round homeless emergency shelter and multi-service center at the site presently under County consideration, including, but not limited to, consideration of a zoning code amendment, if determined necessary, and consideration of funding assistance that, if agreed upon, would be memorialized in a future agreement, and coordination of local services for the successful operation of a multi-service center.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that by adopting this Resolution, the City Council is not committing itself or agreeing to undertake any acts or activities requiring the subsequent independent exercise of discretion by the City Council, the City or any commission, committee or department thereof. This City Council recognizes that one or more of the conditions to the County’s proposal may fail to be met as a result of subsequent studies, reviews and proceedings involving the exercise of discretion by the County, the City Council, the City or any commission, committee or department thereof.


About Ricardo Toro

Anaheim resident for several decades. In addition to political blogging, another area of interest is providing habitats for the Monarch butterfly. http://www.orangejuiceblog.com/2013/12/caterpillars-crossing-in-a-city-at-a-crossroads/