Next Step Toward Transitional Housing

Phase two in city-sanctioned houseless encampment calls for relocation, expansion

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Santa Cruz City Council is reviewing four potential sites for the next phase of the transitional housing camp, replacing the current site at 1220 River St.

The locations are all on publicly owned land, including the former winter shelter at the California National Guard Armory in DeLaveaga park, two locations within Pogonip, which are the old clubhouse and a parcel of land near the end of Golf Club Drive. Other sites named are in the Emeline Avenue public health campus and near the recycling center at Dimeo Lane.

The city initially began its search for privately held commercially zoned properties whose owners were willing to rent them out, with the goal of the relocated facility being indoors.

“We got zero interest, sadly,” said Santa Cruz principal management analyst Susie O’Hara. “We decided to move to publicly owned parcels as being what would potentially work, just knowing we had some control over outcomes with those parcels.”

With the relocation, the city hopes to expand the camp’s capacity to 150 residents, up from the current 52, O’Hara said in an email. The armory is currently the site most recommended for the City Council’s selection, due to the reduced cost and time in preparing a pre-existing building. The armory, along with the other proposed sites, is not without disadvantages.

“[The sites] all come with different opportunities and constraints. The Emeline one for instance is a steep grade, so it would require a lot of construction work to get it ready,” O’Hara said. “Other ones have obviously other constraints, being in proximity to neighbors, being outside of the city limits.”

City Council is expected to make a final decision some time in May or June, and city officials are hopeful that phase two will begin by July 1.

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Sean D. Ross is editor for the City News desk at City on a Hill Press. Previously, Sean served as an editor for the Investigative News desk and as a reporter for the Campus, City and Sports desks over the past two years. Before coming to UC Santa Cruz, he was News Editor for the Diablo Valley College Inquirer, contributing to the Inquirer earning the Journalism Association of Community Colleges’ “General Excellence” award at the 2016 Northern California Conference. For his coverage of California fires in the fall of 2017, Sean was awarded third prize in the California College Media Association’s Breaking News competition. Sean is pursuing a career in law, and has interned for renowned California attorney James M. Wagstaffe. Besides casually browsing LexisNexis, Sean enjoys board games of all stripes, competitive Magic: the Gathering, playing the french horn, automotive racing and the literary stylings of Neil Gaiman.