fbpx

Elk Grove to address homeless issues at tonight’s city council meeting

Opinion/Editorial

At tonight’s city council, the Elk Grove City Council will be discussing two projects that revolve around homelessness, the Oak Rose Apartment Project which would provide permanent housing for the homeless, and the Enhanced Winter Sanctuary proposal for the former Rite Aid location. Both projects are in the Old Town area of Elk Grove.

Prior to putting a sales tax increase on the ballot last November, the city conducted several surveys of Elk Grove residents to determine which issues were most important to local residents. Two of the biggest concerns were public safety and the homeless issue. The city of Elk Grove has said that there are between 100 to 150 homeless persons in Elk Grove. City staff has stated most of the homeless have a connection to Elk Grove, either through family or living in the city prior to becoming homeless.

The state’s passage of SB 35 has tied the hands of California cities and taken planning control away from cities. The law streamlines the approval process for low-income and homeless housing and makes it difficult if not impossible to deny projects unless a city has met the state’s housing requirements. After the city of Elk Grove denied the Oak Rose project, the applicant and eventually the state sued the city. The city claimed the existing Old Town planning guidelines were enough to deny the project. The city knew this was a gamble. The state disagreed. After city staff and their legal team looked at the prospects of winning the lawsuit, they decided that the risks to the city were too great.

Local residents are rightfully upset, but that anger should be directed at the state, not the city. The risk to the city to fight the lawsuits is too much and it would be a breach of their duties to the residents for the city council to take that risk. It could cost millions of dollars.

City staff and Elk Grove police will have to make sure the residents living at the Oak Rose apartments are not causing issues in the community. This will not be a homeless camp. There will not be trash and tents. This will be permanent housing. The residents will be vetted by a county agency.

The second proposal is the winter shelter proposal. For the past several years churches and other groups have provided shelter during the winter months. This year the city has decided to use the former Rite Aid store at the intersection of Elk Grove Blvd and Waterman Road from November 1 to March 31. The facility will house up to 30 individuals.

According to the city, “Guests of the Enhanced Winter Sanctuary will be selected through a referral system. Only adults who have been vetted by a social services agency and have a referral will be admitted to the program. Pets will be accommodated. Families with minor children will continue to be served by motel voucher programs. to Elk Grove. The operator will enforce rules and restrictions on site that will prohibit registered sex offenders, people with serious behavioral health challenges, or those who wish to use drugs or alcohol on site. Elk Grove Police Department cameras and personnel will monitor the site for safety and security.

The courts have ruled that cities can’t force the homeless to move from public property unless there are beds or housing available. If the shelter has space available, the city can use that to require them to go to the shelter or move. This is only a temporary solution to an ongoing problem. After the shelter is closed in the spring, the city will begin remodeling the location to become the new city library. It is possible that next year there could be multiple smaller locations spread out in the city.

Nearby residents are not happy with the prospect of a homeless shelter nearby, and that is understandable. It is easy for people who don’t live in the area to say it isn’t a big deal. Everyone wants a solution but many don’t want it near them. It will be up to city staff and police to make sure the impact on nearby residents and businesses is minimized.

Privacy Policy

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Skip to toolbar