Following intense lobbying by Supervisor John Flynn, the Oxnard City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to help locate a permanent site for Zoe Christian Center, the county’s only year-round homeless shelter.
The center, which provides shelter and counseling for about 150 people a day, had been operating for five years on a temporary permit in an area zoned for industrial and manufacturing. That permit expired last year.
Supporters of the center had asked the council to permanently rezone the site at Rose Avenue and Fifth Street, allowing the center to remain at its current location.
“I hope that you will see the need to keep Zoe on this location,” Flynn said.
However, Mayor Nao Takasugi and Councilwomen Ann Johs and Geraldine (Gerry) Furr said the location is inappropriate for the center because it is near a fertilizer company where toxic chemicals are stored.
Last year, Oxnard’s assistant fire chief urged that the center be relocated because of its proximity to numerous industrial health hazards.
Supporters of the center, including Councilman Manual Lopez and Councilwoman Dorothy Maron, said the current owner of the property is willing to sell the land for about $1 million, but Zoe Center needed the council’s support to persuade various state agencies to grant the money to buy the land.
After nearly three hours of debate and testimony, the council decided to help search for a permanent location but not to name the current location as the permanent site.
Zoe Center officials said they will try to persuade the state agencies to provide the money to purchase another permanent site or to buy the current site and pay for measures to reduce the health hazards.