Santa Clarita’s homeless population might be able to keep its wintertime home on Drayton Street for three more years – as long as the property isn’t needed for access to a future trash-sorting facility.
On Tuesday the Santa Clarita City Council will decide whether to approve a three-year lease extension with Bridge to Home, the nonprofit organization that operates Santa Clarita’s Emergency Winter Shelter on city-owned property at 3029 Drayton St. in Saugus.
By way of background, a local nonprofit set up Santa Clarita’s first temporary home for the homeless during the 1997-98 El Nino winter. The site selection process was arduous in the early years because neighborhoods tended to object.
In an effort to resolve “location” disputes, in 2007 Supervisor Michael D. Anotonovich assembled a task force to pick suitable sites. The task force came up with a nine-year plan, deciding the shelter should rotate among three different locations – two in the city, one in the unincorporated SCV – for three years at a time.
After sitting next to the fire station on Golden Valley Road, the shelter’s temporary buildings were moved to Drayton Street for the 2010-11 season.
If the task force recommendation were followed, the buildings would move to the county-owned grounds of the Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic this December. Moving costs could be as high as $180,000.
Last fall, Bridge to Home approached the city staff, asking for a three-year extension.
City staff members met with the task force and expressed some reservations.
“One concern included impacts to the surrounding businesses,” a city staff report states. “Another concern is the potential future need of the property to address access issues related to the potential proposed Materials Recovery Facility (MRF) at the Saugus Industrial site which is located off of Springbrook Avenue and north of Drayton. Based on the City’s preliminary review, it appears that the MRF may have access challenges from Springbrook Avenue.”
A MRF (rhymes with “Smurf”) is a reclamation plant that’s designed to capture as many recyclables as possible, thus keeping more trash out of landfills. The city and community activists have a long history of trying to reduce the amount of garbage Santa Clarita generates, in part to curb the need to build more landfills.
The property were the MRF might one day go is the former Keysor-Century Corp. site near the present homeless shelter. Sources close to the MRF issue have told SCVNews.com to expect to see the project move forward this year; it is unclear whether there might be some potential alternative locations. Like the shelter, suggested locations for the MRF drew objections from neighbors when its siting was last discussed, prior to the recent recession.
Despite the staff’s concerns about keeping the homeless shelter in place, “the task force unanimously passed a motion to support the extension and (raise) the issue with the City Council.”
Staffers then met with Bridge to Home representatives and hammered out a tentative deal, under which the shelter could stay open a little longer each winter (opening the Monday before Thanksgiving rather than Dec. 1), while Bridge to Home officials would “demonstrate their efforts to find a permanent location for the winter shelter.”
Bridge to Home wouldn’t be allowed to operate the shelter year-round at the Drayton Street location, and with six months’ notice, the city could terminate the lease if the property is needed for access to a future MRF site.