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Costa Mesa council OK’s contract for homeless shelter designer

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Costa Mesa’s long-term, 50-bed homeless shelter should open next year in this warehouse on Airway Avenue near John Wayne Airport.
(File Photo)

Costa Mesa’s permanent homeless shelter now has a designer.

Without discussion, the City Council unanimously chose Costa Mesa-based architects Robert Borders & Associates Tuesday to take on the task of converting a recently purchased warehouse near John Wayne Airport into a 50-bed facility.

Under the $375,000 contract, Robert Border & Associates will remodel the industrial warehouse at 3175 Airway Ave. to include sleeping quarters, restrooms and showers for men and women, a kitchen and dining hall, a laundry room and office space.

The new shelter, which should open in about a year, will be run by Mercy House Living Centers — the nonprofit that also operates the Bridges at Kraemer Place facility in Anaheim.

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The city, Mercy House and Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene are currently partnering on a temporary shelter. A modular building housing 50 people, plus portable restrooms and showers, opened in April in the parking lot of the Westside church, 1885 Anaheim Ave.

Opening that temporary shelter cleared the way for Costa Mesa to resume enforcing local anti-camping laws, according to city officials. Those regulations were effectively on hold for about a year because of a federal lawsuit filed in January 2018 on behalf of homeless people cleared from a former encampment along the Santa Ana River and a subsequent ruling from the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that it is unconstitutional to prosecute homeless people for sleeping on public property when they don’t have access to shelter.

The city settled the riverbed lawsuit in March and the council approved buying the Airway Avenue site for $6.925 million around that same time. A main component of the settlement was developing a local homeless shelter.

Escrow closed on the Airway site in April.

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CMPD welcomes new K-9

A 2-year-old Belgian malinois, is the newest K-9 member of the Costa Mesa Police Department.

Aran, who comes to Costa Mesa by way of the Netherlands, is the latest addition to a recently revived K-9 unit that had been dormant for years. He has been in service for about two months.

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Costa Mesa police K-9 Aran stands before the City Council Tuesday.
(Daily Pilot)

Mayor Katrina Foley introduced the dog and his handler to an approving audience Tuesday. Attentive but energetic, Aran stood by his human partner, Officer Candyce McMorris, with his tail swooping like a windshield wiper, tongue waving like a banner in the breeze and the occasional vocalization.

McMorris, the department’s first woman K-9 handler, patted his head and smoothed back his ears.

Police service dogs help officers with searches and apprehension and can be trained in narcotics and explosives detection. Costa Mesa police deployed their first service dog in 1988 but dissolved the unit in 2011 amid department cutbacks and relied on neighboring agencies to help with K-9 services when needed.

That changed in December, when Aran’s canine colleague, a Dutch shepherd named Bodi, joined the force.

Discussion of cellphone facilities delayed

The council postponed a set of scheduled votes on small-cell facilities Tuesday to allow for more public outreach.

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Verizon Wireless and AT&T had requested to install seven facilities atop streetlight poles, mostly in the Mesa Verde area. Questions regarding how to address concerns about health and property values potentially being impacted by wireless infrastructure so close to homes, however, prompted the delay.

“We have heard from the community that there are some questions,” said City Manager Lori Ann Farrell Harrison. “There’s clearly the need for additional community education.”

A study session will be scheduled on the matter.

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