Newport Beach seeks operator for planned homeless shelter

A homeless man sleeps with his belongings packed in bags next to him near the Newport Pier.
(File Photo)

Newport Beach has garnered interest from at least one potential homeless shelter operator and started designing a shelter that could go in a corner of the municipal public works yard, though the city is continuing to discuss where the shelter might be.

Officials say the bidding for an operator and design work doesn’t mean Newport has committed to or abandoned any of the three options it has most actively pursued in the past two months to find beds for people living on the streets and beaches.

Those options include the city yard at 592 Superior Ave., leasing a privately owned Avis rental car lot at 4200 Campus Drive near John Wayne Airport and partnering with the city of Costa Mesa on its upcoming permanent shelter at 3175 Airway Ave., also near the airport.

“We are actively engaged on all three pathways,” City Manager Grace Leung wrote in her Oct. 18 newsletter.

As of Thursday, Santa Ana-based Mercy House was the only operator to pull bid documents for Newport’s contract, which would run for three years plus options for two one-year extensions. Mercy House runs seven shelters around Southern California, including the Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim and Costa Mesa’s temporary shelter at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene at 1885 Anaheim Ave. Bidding started Oct. 18 and runs through Nov. 1.

Newport Beach has agreed to pay Irvine-based design studio LPA $120,000 to draw up plans for a possible shelter conversion at the public works yard, and the City Council and staff continue to hold closed sessions discussing both a potential lease of the rental car lot and a possible partnership with Costa Mesa, including joining the temporary shelter and the long-term shelter site.

Huntington Beach also is mulling joining the Airway Avenue site.

All of Newport’s negotiations are continuing, City Atty. Aaron Harp said after the most recent meeting Tuesday.

Panhandling signs

The city has a draft of a sign intended to discourage giving to panhandlers and encourage donating to charities.

The sign, revealed at Tuesday’s council meeting, reads “Say no to panhandling. Say yes to good giving” and suggests calling 211 or visiting a page on the city website for pointers on donating. The page is not yet operable.

This sign may be posted at several Newport Beach locations to discourage giving to panhandlers.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The sign could go up in locations that police have identified as high-profile spots for panhandlers: West Coast Highway at Dover Drive and Newport Boulevard, the driveway to Fashion Island off San Miguel Drive and the corner of San Miguel and San Joaquin Hills Road.

A time frame for the project is uncertain.

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