, June 24, 2022

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Vallejo City Council mulls temporary tent city for about 60 unsheltered people

  •   4 min reads
Vallejo City Council mulls temporary tent city for about 60 unsheltered people
A rendering of the proposed "Hope Village" by a coalition of organizations making the proposal.

VALLEJO – A special meeting scheduled for Monday evening so Vallejo City Council can vote on the creation of a temporary tent city that will serve about 60 people as the city’s Project Roomkey program shuts down early next year.

Called “Hope Village,” the temporary living facility will include 40 7.5-feet by 7.5-feet tents, and four porta-potties in a parking lot at 921 Amador St, city staff wrote in a report to the city council.

The plan is being backed by several nonprofit groups, including 4th Second, Vallejo Together, Fighting Back Partnership, and One Love Center for Health.

Staff said the project will include basic sanitation, a power source, potable water and case management services, as well as exterior lighting.  

“Each tent will be made of fire-resistant material and have a number assigned to it on the outside. A map will be posted at the main gate to allow for easy identification and emergency access,” staff wrote in its report to council. “Inside each tent will be secure containers that will be used to hold each inhabitant’s personal belongings.

Staff further said that the planning, fire and police departments have signed off on the project through a list of conditions “to ensure that public health and safety would be maintained.”

If approved, the initial temporary-use permit would be for 30 days, with the option to extend the permit for up to one year should the applicants apply for it.

Staff said that more than 60 individuals will lose their housing on Jan. 5 of next year as Project RoomKey — which was established in March 2020 as part of California’s attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 by providing shelter options for people experiencing homelessness — winds down for good.

The project has been met with resistance from many in the surrounding neighborhood. Several spoke out at the last council meeting and many provided written comments to the city which was provided in Monday’s agenda packet.

“This neighborhood is distressed enough with speeders, unhoused wanderers, sideshow artists, catalytic converter thieves, burglars, graffiti artists, illegal dumpers, and addicts,” wrote Leland Barkley, who lives on nearby Alabama Street.

“We certainly do not need another 60+ more of the same. Many of us are not even home during the day to defend our properties since we must work away in order to live here, and pay taxes at all,” Barkley said.

Another local resident, Nathan Gogol, who lives on Louisiana Street, called the proposed idea “a huge COVID risk and problem for all the permanent residents of this neighborhood.”

“This is not fair to the people who paid fair market value for a home to live in a nice neighborhood,” Gogol added. “This camp will surely increase crime, drug use, decrease property value, decrease safety, expose youth to these things, decrease church turnout, and be generally unappealing to everyone surrounding this location including myself, my wife, and my neighbors.”

Based on concerns from neighbors, staff added several conditions of approval including  plans for locating tents further from residential uses, security and staffing, waste management, temporary parking and emergency medical services.

Hope Village is described as a housing first, low-barrier camping site focused “on moving people into permanent housing,” according to a use description from the applicant.

“While providing temporary living facilities, Hope Village will utilize case management to connect individuals experiencing homelessness to income, public benefits, health services, shelter, and housing,” it said. “The program shall provide safe shelter within insulated tents, basic needs, and navigation services to move clients out of homelessness and into permanent housing opportunities.”

Vallejo lacks sufficient services for the hundreds of homeless people living in the city and efforts to bolster services have often not come to fruition. Most recently, the city's long-delayed proposed homeless navigation center was further set back after an environmental review determined the intended site was contaminated.

The council will also be asked to approve two other items on Monday’s agenda, including paying $152,607 to enable the transfer of the famed Empress Theater to the city of Vallejo. The council approved a series of agreements with Triad Communities LP last December authorizing the transfer of the Empress Theater to the city.

“As part of the transfer, the city is to pay all delinquent property taxes as well as $32,000 to Triad to compensate it for preparing necessary tax returns. Since the approval last year, staff has encountered a number of issues that have delayed the closing,” staff wrote in a report to the council. “Those issues are now all resolved. The property is in escrow and is ready to close. However, as a result of the delay, Triad incurred additional expenses and the tax payments increased.”

The council will also mull approving a third amendment to an agreement with Akin Gump Straus Hauer & Feld for both federal and state lobbying services. If approved the amount of the contract will go from $210,000 to a new not to exceed amount of $330,000 and extend the term to Dec. 31, 2022.

The special meeting of the Vallejo City Council is scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday, and will be held inside the Vallejo City Hall Council Chambers, 555 Santa Clara St.

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