VENTURA : Center for Mentally Ill OKd as Shelter

A downtown Ventura drop-in center for the mentally ill will soon allow 10 clients to stay overnight under a proposal approved this week by the city's Planning Commission.

Starting this fall, The Turning Point Foundation will clear out one of the building's two rooms each night to make way for roll-away beds and partitions. Located on Thompson Boulevard near California Street, the foundation is now a daytime center where the mentally ill drop in for food, health care and companionship.

Foundation officials agreed to certain conditions before becoming a nighttime shelter, including:

* Homeless residents would spend no more than 90 nights in a row at the shelter.

* At least two employees would remain on duty at all times.

* Lighting would be added to the back of the building to discourage homeless people from sleeping there.

* Guests who leave the shelter after 9 p.m. would not be allowed back into the building.

The Planning Commission approved the shelter 4 to 0 Tuesday night, with Commissioner Al Okuma absent and Commissioner Ted Temple abstaining. The commission also asked the foundation to meet with Ventura County Superior Court Judge William Peck, who owns an apartment building next to the center, and address his worries.

Peck has complained that the center's guests yell back and forth on the street outside his building, and urinate on his property.

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