In a unanimous 5-0 vote Tuesday night, the Santa Clarita City Council passed a proposal to transfer ownership of the Santa Clarita Emergency Winter Shelter from the city to Bridge to Home, clearing the path for non-profit organization to operate the shelter year-round.
The vote followed a public comment period in which seven members of the community expressed their views on the transfer, four in support and three who had reservations about the city’s process and the services provided. Two additional written comments supported the proposal.
The council will now move to authorize the City Manager or designee to execute the deed and other necessary documents, subject to City Attorney approval, to transfer the property located at 23029 Drayton Street in Newhall to Bridge to Home.
City staff will now work with Bridge to Home to process the necessary temporary use permit to accommodate year-round shelter services.
The current SCV Temporary Emergency Winter Shelter Program is operated by Bridge to Home on city-owned property located at 23029 Drayton Street in Newhall, off Railroad Avenue.
Transfer of ownership of this property to Bridge to Home and the amending the temporary use permit for year-round shelter and services there allows Bridge to Home to be eligible to receive the maximum amount of Measure H funding.
“Measure H has opened up a lot of doors and a lot of opportunities for Bridge to Home, which does a tremendous job, to bring [services] all in one spot on one property that the city owns [and] to enable them to provide those services,” City Manager Ken Striplin said after the comments.
Also prior to the vote, Mayor Pro Tem Laurene Weste called for the city and members of the community to work together to upgrade the infrastructure in the area around the shelter on Drayton Street, which is a privately owned roadway, to include sewer service, lighting and landscaping.
“There’s been a lot of process … now it’s time to roll up our sleeves,” Weste said. “It’s something we have to do.”
Councilman Bill Miranda echoed Weste’s call for improvements to the area.
“The folks that are involved with Bridge to Home are responsible and want to do what is the very best for our homeless, and I feel this is an opportunity (for them) to do that,” Councilwoman Marsha McLean said.
“If we look at the community that we’ve got, this is about as good as it’s going to get for a homeless shelter,” Councilman Bob Kellar said, urging area improvements that would also benefit the existing businesses adjacent to the Drayton location.
“We would be foolhardy not to take advantage of Measure H money,” Kellar said. “If we did not accept the criteria that goes along with that funding, obviously we wouldn’t get it, and subsequently wouldn’t be able to do as good a job for our homeless people.”
Measure H is estimated to generate $355 million annually over the next 10 years for service providers across Los Angeles County, according to city officials.
Bridge to Home already provides support services to homeless clients year-around at The Bridge, its office on Newhall Avenue. With the Council’s approval, the organization will be able to provide temporary emergency housing during the spring, summer and fall months as well as winter.
“The represents an evolution of my understanding of homelessness and I think to some degree that of the community as well,” Mayor Cameron Smyth said.
“In the community, the narrative about homelessness has changed over the years, and I think that’s a tremendous credit to all of the volunteers,” Smyth said.
“And certainly for me over the last year (I have) become very familiar with the face of homelessness in Santa Clarita, and how that’s different from that you would see in other parts of L.A. County,” he said.
“You see that the community is ready for us to transition to a year-round facility and I’m ready to support that now as well, which I hadn’t been in the past,” Smyth said. “So I’m proud to be able to say I’ve changed on this, I’ve been educated, and this is certainly the right thing for Santa Clarita.”
The vote that followed was swift, decisive and ended the meeting, which the council members dedicated to the memory of housing developer Jack Shine.
The winter shelter’s location was determined in 2007 as part of a community Task Force effort led by the Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor. This Task Force was comprised of business, community, school, government, and non-profit leaders within the Santa Clarita Valley.
In February 2007, the City Council approved a recommendation made by the Task Force to site the winter shelter at three different locations in the Santa Clarita Valley over a nine-year period. The locations approved by the City Council as recommended by the Task Force included the city-owned Golden Valley Road property, city-owned Drayton property, and Peter J. Pitchess Honor Rancho in Castaic (Los Angeles County Jail), which is owned by the county of Los Angeles.
The plan was for the shelter to stay at each location for three consecutive years to minimize moving costs, which based on previous estimates provided by Bridge to Home, could cost as much as $180,000 to move six modular structures.
In the past, the moving costs were paid for by the Los Angeles County Fifth District Supervisor’s Office and the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority.
In addition to minimizing moving costs, the intent of the rotation was to provide Bridge to Home time to find a permanent location for the shelter.
The shelter started operations at the city-owned Golden Valley Road property during the 2007-2008 winter season and remained at that location until March 2010. During the 2010-2011 winter season, the shelter moved to the city-owned Drayton property.
In August 2012, Bridge to Home met with city staff to request an extension to the Drayton lease which would allow the shelter to continue operations at the Drayton site for three additional consecutive winter seasons.
The City Council approved the lease extension at the February 12, 2013 City Council meeting, allowing Bridge to Home to remain at the Drayton site.
Bridge to Home has operated their temporary emergency winter shelter at the Drayton Street location since 2011. Operations have been renewed annually under the use of a temporary use permit, which allows for the operation of the temporary emergency winter shelter on city-owned property from November to March each year.
City staff researched alternate locations with no positive results.
Bridge to Home indicated the Drayton site was their preferred site for a permanent location.
With recent focus on the local homeless population and availability of Measure H funding, the following actions have been approved by the City Council:
· Transferring ownership of the city-owned property to Bridge to Home.
· Amending the TUP to allow for year-round shelter and services.
Measure H was approved by Los Angeles County voters in March 2017 and will generate approximately $355 million annually for the next 10 years. According to LAHSA, all new funding for shelter programs will be for organizations operating 24-hours and 365 days per year.
LAHSA has already begun releasing requests for proposals for organizations to apply for Measure H funding for 21 specific strategies outlined in the Los Angeles County’s Homeless Initiative Plan.
The funding specific to shelter operations is expected to be released in October 2017.
Transfer of ownership of the Drayton Street property from the city to Bridge to Home and the approval of a temporary use permit to operate year-round would allow Bridge to Home to be eligible to receive the maximum amount of Measure H funding.