After two failed attempts to find a viable site for a homeless shelter, the city of Huntington Beach has identified two new properties in the Oak View neighborhood for possible lease.
One of them — the former site of Al’s Woodcraft at 17881 Beach Blvd. — is “probably closer to reality” for creating a 35- to 60-bed shelter, according to Kellee Fritzal, deputy director of the city’s office of business development. The building is surrounded by commercial properties and apartment complexes. A cemetery and mausoleum are across the street.
Fritzal said Tuesday that the site will be discussed Oct. 7 during a City Council study session and that the council may formally consider it later that day.
The second property — at 17712 Crabb Lane — is at the end of a cul-de-sac in a commercial-industrial area, with some homes nearby.
Fritzal said the city is trying to finalize prospective lease amounts for both, in a range of $130,000 to $150,000 a year.
If a lease is carried out, the next steps would include tenant improvements, selecting a homeless shelter operator and finalizing operating costs and funding, the city said. The shelter may open this year.
“Any site that the city selects will have people against that site, no matter what,” Fritzal said. “It’s a very difficult job, but hopefully this works.”
Residents can attend three upcoming open houses: 6-8 p.m. Thursday at the Central Library, 7111 Talbert Ave.; 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at City Hall, 2000 Main St.; and 6-8 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Central Library.
“The City Council found the one site on Beach Boulevard, which was interesting and helpful,” Fritzal said. “The other site, we called every opening we had and we’re telling property owners what we needed the site for. These were two that both said were interested in leasing to us.”
Under either proposal, the site would serve pre-screened men, women and couples for up to 90 days. Stays could be extended if clients are awaiting approval for more-permanent housing.
Registered sex offenders and those with outstanding felony arrest warrants would be prohibited. No walk-ins or walk-outs would be allowed. Clients would be shuttled to and from the site and be connected with services such as job training, healthcare and counseling, according to the city.
Both new sites are in the Oak View neighborhood, a predominantly Latino community. Fritzal said city officials met with Ocean View School District Supt. Carol Hansen and the Oak View Family Resource Center and has mailed out fliers in English and Spanish within 1,000 feet of the properties. She said the city passed out more fliers Tuesday.
Hansen said Tuesday that the school district appreciates the city’s efforts to inform the community.
This is Huntington Beach’s third attempt to open a homeless shelter in town.
In April, the city scrapped a plan to create a 50-bed shelter at 5770 Research Drive, just behind Marina High School, after pushback from residents, school officials and parents.
Two weeks later, the city identified a property at 15311 Pipeline Lane for a 75- to 90-bed shelter and the City Council authorized a $2.85-million purchase. In May, however, a group of residents, other property owners and businesses within 500 feet of the site filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming the property could be used only for industrial purposes. The council directed staff to look for alternative locations.
City Attorney Michael Gates said Tuesday that his office is still trying to negotiate an end to the lawsuit, though the city is prepared to fight it in court if the plaintiffs continue demanding “excessive attorney fees.” He declined to say how much the plaintiffs are seeking.
Michael Leifer, an attorney representing the group fighting the Pipeline shelter, could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
Fritzal said the city has received a formal offer for the Pipeline site, which could fully recoup the city’s purchase. She said the council is expected to vote on that at its Oct. 7 meeting.
A separate plan to expand Potter’s Lane, a Midway City apartment building made of recycled shipping containers to provide homeless housing, is continuing, according to Fritzal. The plan is a partnership with Huntington Beach, Westminster, Orange County and American Family Housing, a nonprofit that provides housing and other services to the homeless.
Fritzal said they’re waiting for the county to change its zoning code in order to proceed and that Huntington Beach has earmarked about $60,000 to $800,000 to help provide more beds.