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Emergency shelters allowed by right
New policy includes them in general commercial zones
The HOPE Family Shelter in the 500 block of West Yosemite Avenue. - photo by Bulletin file photo
HOPE Ministries’ inital choice for Manteca’s first family shelter in the early 1990s was a home on the 100 block of North Lincoln Avenue.

It was blocked effectively by neighbors who were worried about increased traffic as well as concerns they had about the unknown involving homeless families.

The coalition of Manteca churches ultimately found the home for their first shelter in the 500 block of busy West Yosemite Avenue in the original Manteca Hospital that had been converted into apartments. It was built tin 1919 in the aftermath of the Great Flu Epidemic of 1918 where almost half of the community got sick and three Manteca residents died.

No one objected to the location as it was adjacent to commercial and in an area that ultimately was envisioned for professional offices. It was also across the street from the Manteca Museum.

Manteca, at the time, had no language in its zoning ordinance saying where emergency shelters were allowed.

That is changing.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday gave their blessing to an updated housing element that calls for emergency shelters to be allowed “by right” in the general commercial zone.

That means they do not need a conditional use permit or any special public hearing to proceed.

Language in the housing element sent to the state for approval also indicated the city will put in place management standards for emergency shelters that are consistent with state law and encourage their development.

The second shelter HOPE Ministries opened – Raymus House for single moms and their young children on South Union Road – is in an old convalescent hospital. Neighbors had little objection based on the track record of the HOPE Family Shelter but they were worried single men could be housed at the location. HOPE Ministries has no plans to do so.

Raymus House is located in a former convalescent hospital. Neither the Union Road facility nor the West Yosemite Avenue shelter is in a general commercial zone.

If an emergency shelter proposed after the zoning language is changed, the city  and/or neighbors would be powerless to stop them from locating in a general commercial zone as long as they met state criteria. They could still apply to go in other locations but would need to be granted exceptions.

The general commercial zoning for emergency shelters, though, can’t legally preclude a shelter for single men.