The shuttered Kmart on Northgate Drive could make the cut Tuesday when the City Council is expected to narrow down the list of potential sites for a complex that will take a holistic approach to tackling Manteca’s homeless problem.
It is one of eight sites — both municipal property and private buildings/land that are available for sale — that staff has vetted for such a purpose. The council is being presented with a detailed overview of each site. Both pros and cons are listed as well.
The other seven sites before the council are:
*The vacant Minerva furniture store at 225 West Center St. at the corner of Sycamore Avenue.
*The city’s Wilson Park on Center Street directly across from the Minerva furniture store.
*The former Salvation Army thrift store at 129 N, Garfield Avenue next to the auto parts store.
*Four available parcels adjacent to each other — one has an old house on it — in the 600 block of East Yosemite Avenue at Fremont Avenue east of the Manteca Bulletin office.
*A vacant industrial building at 1140 Bessemer Ave. in the Manteca Industrial Park.
*The Qualex building at 555 Industrial Drive where the emergency warming center is now in place through March 31 inside a tent in the parking lot.
The city is trying to come up with a solution that will meet legal requirements needed to enforce a variety of laws including restricting where the homeless camp or sleep. In order to do so they must have available beds for the unsheltered to use. If the homeless opt not to take advantage of the “beds” and space is still available in the shelter, police can take the appropriate enforcement actions.
At the same time the city wants to get to the root of the problem as to what is preventing people from getting off the street. In doing so they want to provide robust “one stop” services in a bid to get the homeless so they can get off the streets and either support themselves or get the help they need to address addictions and other issues.
The navigation concept is modeled after an approach San Francisco is taking.
Navigation centers provide a wide variety of serves including shelter, pet care, harm reduction, meals, and social service connections to clients and provide 24.7 staffing.
The staff report notes the San Francisco Navigation Centers “do not accept walk-ins. All individuals and couples who enter have been selected by the SF Homeless Outreach Team or a centralized referral system. Because Navigation Centers operate 24/7, there are no lines outside in the evening, and guests are not exited onto the street in the morning.
“Teamwork and cooperation between the San Francisco Department of Homeless Services, Police, and Public Works Departments is the key to Navigation Center success. The Department of Social Services provides the management of the Navigation Centers, Police provide for the safety of the centers, and the Public Works Department provides for the design and construction of the centers. “
The site navigation center requires 20,000 square feet.
Acting City Manager Miranda Lutzow said staff has been operating on the premise that whatever space is selected that it can accommodate 218 homeless in a sleeping arrangement at one time. That number reflects the point in time homeless census conducted in January. It is the foundation number to comply with under court directives.
She also said the plan is to have non-profits run the navigation center.
The city also has been working with Manteca Unified that provides services to homeless school children to help rate the best sites. The school district favors the Kmart site.
The owner of the Kmart building has expressed a willingness for possible partial occupation of the structure for a navigation center while the balance of the space could still be used for planned indoor storage units:
The pros of the site include:
*being within 738 feet of a Manteca Transit line.
*having ample space in the parking lot to accommodate the homeless with cars and recreational vehicles.
*being large enough to allow multiple shelter operations with separate sections for youths and adults.
*utilities are already in place.
*there are sidewalks in place to provide access to the center from throughout the city.
Cons regarding the site including backing up to a residential neighborhood and being across the street from apartments, nearby businesses may be apprehensive with the location, the fact it would require the city to purchase the site, and it is more than a mile from downtown. Staff also noted extensive fencing would be required to make the site work.
The staff made similar pro and con assessments of other sites.
Based on the criteria for a navigation center should the council go that route, it is likely the Kmart building as well as Qualex would make the cut for a more exhaustive vetting and possibly the building at 1140 Bessemer Ave as well.
The City Council meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Civic Center, 1001 W. Center St.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email email@example.com