Inner City Action is bringing back its large tent to the Qualex parking lot while efforts continue to secure approval to sell the 57,000-square-foot building and parcel for $1 to the non-profit for a homeless resource center.
The tent is expected to be put in place Wednesday, April 10, to serve as a temporary homeless resource center. The tent will be allowed to remain there until a final determination is made on the building’s future ownership. If a critical bill authorizing the sale of the surplus redevelopment agency property is approved by the California Legislature and 10 other taxing agencies sign off, the property will be sold to Inner City Action. If that fails to happen the property will be auctioned off and proceeds split between the taxing agencies.
The City Council on a 4-1 vote authorized Inner City Action to return to the Qualex site with their tent. During a 25-day period ending Feb. 17 when the tent was in place earlier, Inner City Action was successful in getting 23 people off the streets.
Councilman David Breitenbucher voted against granting temporary approval for the return of the tent after City Attorney John Brinton made it clear the council had the power but not the legal authority to ignore established zoning rules by waiving the requirement for a condition use permit to allow the tent to be placed in the light industrial zone.
Mayor Ben Cantu originally made a motion seconded by Councilman Jose Nuño that would have had the city covering the $9,514 cost of the conditional use permit that would have taken staff six to eight weeks to process. The proposal was to dip into general fund reserves to pay the Community Development Department to process a conditional use permit. After the long wait was determined by most of the council to be unacceptable the motion to waive the conditional use permit was made and passed.
The council sitting as the Successor Agency Board for the Redevelopment Agency voted unanimously to support Assembly Bill 1732 authored by Assemblyman Heath Flora, R-Ripon. The bill would allow the former Qualex building to be sold at below market.
The bill is being considered by the Assembly Local Government Committee on Wednesday, April 10, at 1:30 p.m. in Room 447 at the State Capitol in Sacramento. City Council members will appear with Flora to testify in favor of the bill.
The council — as well as Inner City Action — rejected three alternative locations for the temporary tent and possibly a new facility built from the ground up.
Inner City Action’s Frank Saldana noted the Moffat Boulevard site next to the VFW Hall parking lot wasn’t fenced in and could not be secured as well as being in a heavily trafficked area. The Wetmore Street site next to the water tower was too small while the South Main Street site adjacent to Funsten Flooring was in a dirt field. Council members didn’t like either the Moffat or South Main locations as they were across from residential neighborhoods.
Saldana said the fact the Qualex site is fenced and well –screened from neighboring properties and the street makes it the best location.
He noted during the previous 25-day period the tent was in place the homeless were comfortable storing their items there as they felt it was secure. He added they also felt safe.
Saldana added that Inner City Action intends to do what it did previously and bus well over 90 percent of the homeless from various encampments that partake in available services while they work to try to get them off the street. There was no overnight sleeping at the location by the homeless.
During the 25 days the resource tent was in place previously there was no upswing in illegal camping or other illegal activity by the homeless in the immediate vicinity.
City staff is in the process of contacting the other taxing agencies involved.
Saldana said he is going into the project with his eyes wide open. He has already had general contractors walk through the building and give him cost estimates for replacing the roof and flooring. Inner City Action plans to sell property they own in McFarland to cover the costs of remodeling the structure.
Saldana noted Inner City Action first looked at the Qualex building four years ago when they first started looking at establishing a homeless resource center in Manteca.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org