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Costa Mesa planners to review a site near the airport for possible homeless shelter

Costa Mesa planners to review a site near the airport for possible homeless shelter
The city of Costa Mesa is exploring the possibility of purchasing a property at 3175 Airway Ave. to use as a homeless shelter, according to a staff report. (Daily Pilot)

After casting a wide net in its search for a long-term homeless shelter site, Costa Mesa is now exploring a potential location west of John Wayne Airport.

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The roughly 1.3 acre property at 3175 Airway Ave. currently houses a 29,816-square-foot automotive parts warehouse, according to the city.

While the City Council would have the final say on whether to acquire the property, the Planning Commission will screen the site Monday to determine if it conforms with the city’s general plan.

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“The specific details regarding the operation of the shelter, modifications to the property and related matters have not been determined at this time,” according to a city staff report. “These determinations will be made when and if the property is acquired.”

A city spokesman could not be reached for further comment Friday.

The matter is on the commission’s consent calendar, so it won’t be discussed or voted on separately without a request from a commissioner or member of the public.

The property is the latest publicly identified as a potential shelter location. The council last month abandoned a proposal to buy and renovate a 12,000-square-foot building at 1040 W. 17th St. after research found potential legal and land-use problems.

The focus then turned to property at 3115 Red Hill Ave., but that too was deemed unworkable because the Orange County Health Care Agency uses the site to provide behavioral health services.

Though the city is still firming up plans for a more-permanent shelter, the council on Tuesday approved a lease to temporarily operate a 50-bed facility at Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene for about a year starting in April. Representatives from the church — which has an existing inclement-weather shelter and homeless check-in center on its property at 1885 Anaheim Ave. — signed off on the agreement Thursday, according to the city.

“This is a great first step toward the cleanup and restoration of our Westside neighborhoods, while at the same time addressing the humane option of helping individuals up and out of homelessness,” Mayor Katrina Foley, said in a statement Friday. “We look forward to this productive partnership with Lighthouse Church that is truly in the best interest of both parties.”

Under the pact, Costa Mesa will pay Lighthouse $280,000, and the city also plans to spend an estimated $150,000 to rent four modular trailers that would house the shelter’s beds, showers and restrooms, and another $50,000 for equipment and furniture.

The council retained Mercy House Living Centers earlier this month to run the local shelter at an annual cost of up to $1.457 million.

Costa Mesa is developing the shelter in hopes of satisfying direction from U.S. District Judge David Carter, who is presiding over a lawsuit filed last year against the city, Orange County and the cities of Anaheim and Orange on behalf of homeless people cleared from a former encampment along the Santa Ana River.

He’s called for cities to develop enough emergency and transitional beds to serve 60% of the unsheltered people documented during a 2017 countywide count — a standard that would give Costa Mesa a target of 62 beds.

While 50 of those would be located in the new shelter, city officials have said the other 12 would be provided through a partnership with College Hospital, an acute-care facility at 301 Victoria St., and made available to people suffering a mental health crisis.

Monday’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Costa Mesa Senior Center, 695 W. 19th St.

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