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Plan for potential Newport Beach homeless shelter taking shape

This partially enclosed equipment garage at Newport Beach's public works yard could hold trailers for a homeless shelter, according to an outline for the proposed facility.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

A homeless shelter at the Newport Beach public works yard could feature room for couples and indoor and outdoor space for pets.

The shelter, in what is currently a partially enclosed equipment garage, would house, feed and offer hygiene and other services to up to 40 people in a cluster of four or five double-wide prefab trailers, according to a tentative outline for the proposed facility.

The outline, drafted by city staff and its contracted design studio for the project, is subject to City Council approval. It describes 20 single men, 12 single women and four couples sleeping in two dorm trailers. Each bunk would come with a locker, and pet crates would be in the sleeping area. A 200-square-foot outdoor dog run would let the animals get exercise.

A kitchen and mess hall would allow all guests to eat at the same times.

The complex, which would cover about 9,000 square feet, also would include a lounge, a laundry room, an administrative and intake area with a security station, and four single-occupant restroom stalls, each with a toilet, sink and shower.

Outdoor common areas, in addition to the dog run, would include a 600-square-foot courtyard, secure storage lockers and racks for up to 20 bicycles. Thirteen spaces would be striped for parking.

The city yard, at 592 Superior Ave. at the border of Costa Mesa and Newport’s west sides, is one of multiple options the city is contemplating for addressing local homelessness. A privately owned rental car lot near John Wayne Airport and a share of Costa Mesa’s upcoming permanent shelter, also near the airport, are additional possibilities.

Staff and council members have said the city yard could be lower-cost than other options — about $1.5 million to improve the buildings in addition to the design, plus operation costs to be determined — and more expedient.

However, it’s also the most controversial. Residents of recently redeveloped adjacent neighborhoods say the homeless shelter would threaten their property values, safety and quality of life. They have picketed Newport Beach City Hall and are crowdfunding to help pay legal costs after serving the city with a formal notice of intent to sue if Newport goes ahead with a shelter at the yard.

A wider look of the area of Newport Beach's public works yard where a homeless shelter could go.
(Courtesy of city of Newport Beach)

The outline for the possible Superior Avenue shelter is part of a $120,000 contract the city awarded in October to Irvine-based LPA.

It would take about six months to receive the trailers if the City Council commits to the Superior site, said Assistant City Manager Carol Jacobs.

Newport’s urgency to offer shelter somewhere picked up Monday, when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a challenge of a ruling by a federal appeals court that protects homeless people who sleep in public areas from prosecution if access to shelter is lacking. Newport Beach was one of more than 30 cities and counties that signed a brief supporting Boise, Idaho, in its bid for Supreme Court review.

With the high court letting the ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stand, cities in California and other Western states have to offer shelter in order to enforce anti-camping laws aimed at keeping people off the streets.

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