•WHAT: Patterson City Planning Commission
•WHEN: 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23
•WHERE: City Hall, 1 Plaza, Patterson
•WHO: Vice Chairman Ron West, Commissioner K.D. Rookard, Commissioner David Applegate and Commissioner Birdie Rodriguez were present. There remains one vacancy on the panel.
A new city ordinance expected to go before the Patterson City Council in late September passed the Patterson Planning Commission 4-0 on Thursday, Aug.23, but not before local homeless advocates had their input.
The provision to provide an area in town where a shelter can be placed is required by state law. The law states that an area must be provided when a city changes the housing element to its general plan. The housing element is the portion of the general plan that seeks to ensure housing for all income levels, according to city planner Joel Andrews.
It will allow an area in the south central part of Patterson to serve as an area to serve the homeless. That area is now largely a mix of industrial and residential uses.
Part of that area will include the newly planned emergency housing shelter in the former Foothill Manor nursing home building at South Fourth and C streets.
According to a city staff report, the ordinance will establish a zone where an emergency shelter can operate within the city. It will prohibit the city from denying a permit to establish an emergency shelter in this zone unless the city can provide an objective reason to do so, and it includes guidelines for the development and operation of shelters within that zone.
Homeless advocacy group Helping Others Sleep Tonight, which is putting together the shelter at C and South Fourth streets, disagreed with several of the recommendations city staff had made regarding the ordinance.
Dennis McCord, past president of H.O.S.T., said at the meeting a city staff idea for preventing other shelters from locating within 300 feet of the new shelter would create problems for future shelters.
“The 300-foot area would’ve wiped out that entire zone,” McCord said, noting if another organization wanted to place a women’s shelter nearby, that rule would have prevented it from doing so.
He also said staff’s recommendation to cap the number of people allowed to stay at the shelter at 25 was arbitrary, and that 50 was better. The ordinance already had laid out a plan of 50 square feet of bed space for each guest, he said, which limits shelter population by the size of the building.
In response, the planning commission made several changes, including:
•Taking out a requirement to have no other shelters within 300 feet of the shelter
•Expanding the possible amount of people allowed to stay at a shelter from 25 to 50 if space allows
•Removing a requirement that a security guard be present at intake for the night
•Removing a shelter staff requirement to control loitering in the area early in the day before intake to the shelter in the evening,
•Giving direction to staff to work out a plan to screen the outdoors area from the rest of the neighborhood.
News Reporter Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187, ext. 31 or firstname.lastname@example.org.