SLO County to fund controversial Grover Beach homeless project

April 25, 2019


The San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 on Tuesday to approve funding for a controversial homeless services project in Grover Beach. [Cal Coast Times]

Supervisors Adam Hill, Bruce Gibson, and John Peschong voted to award $2.6 million in grant funds for a proposal to provide transitional housing for young adults and homeless services at the Hillside Church property, a 3.1-acre lot at 1935 Newport Avenue. While both supervisors Lynn Compton and Debbie Arnold spoke of the need to fund the proposed project, they wanted those involved to consider moving the project to a less controversial location.

“We need something in South County desperately and I want to allocate the funds,” Compton said. “My problem is this is in a residential neighborhood.”

On the other side, supervisors Hill and Bruce Gibson argued that the homeless should be housed in residential areas and that the board should follow Grover Beach Mayor Jeff Lee’s recommendation and approve funding.

“I think we have a chance to move forward with what our responsibility is,” Hill said. “The homeless deserve to find housing in residential neighborhoods.”

Arnold noted issues with the vetting process, and the timely notification of neighbors of the Hillside Church property.

Grover Beach residents packed Tuesday’s meeting, voicing concerns about crime, traffic, and property values for approximately three hours.

Neighbors described the planned homeless shelter and low-income housing as the “right idea, wrong location.”

Casting the swing vote, Supervisor John Peschong said the responsibility of the county was to approve funding and that it was the Grover Beach City Council’s duty to approve the location.

With Compton and Arnold dissenting, the board voted 3-2 to provide $2.6 million in grant funding for homeless services and housing at the Hillside Church property.

Plans for the Grover Beach project include 11 dorm-style rooms with up to 44 beds for homeless young adults, an administration office and, a case management office. The 5 Cities Homeless Coalition will oversee the facility and provide an onsite manager.

Plans for the second phase of the project call for People’s Self-Help Housing to construct 20 permanent homes for residents whose earnings are at or below 30 percent of the median income.

The Board of Supervisors’ motion included another $1.5 million worth of grant funding to be used for the construction of the first-ever homeless shelter in Paso Robles and the expansion of the existing ECHO Shelter in Atascadero.

An additional $400,000 was dedicated for a detox program at 40 Prado in San Luis Obispo.

With wide-community support, government officials and local homeless services agencies have worked together to provide a homeless shelter in Paso Robles. Initially, the North County shelter will be operational from November through March.

The 5,000 square foot, 36-bed facility will be constructed next to the Paso Robles Wastewater Treatment Plant on Sulphur Springs Road near the intersection of highways 101 and 46.

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A large majority of SLO County residents are but a paycheck or two, a literal stones-throw, from finding themselves homeless in “paradise”. The typical NIMBY attitude on display over this issue is utterly disgraceful. Beyond that, the pretentious cesspool that this comment section becomes, any time that a story involving the homeless community arises, is absolutely nauseating.

I live in Medford, OR and here we have a mission, The Medford Gospel Mission, that houses and feeds many of the homeless population in Jackson County (it’s the only shelter in the county). The mission sits smack-dab in the middle of one of the most densely populated business districts and neighborhoods in the state and they co-exist. Is it easy? No. Is it crime free? No. Is there challenges? Daily. But they co-exist and they’ve been doing so for almost 60 years!

Property values have risen in the past few years even though the mission is in the heart of it (a lot of old craftsman style homes being sold and restored), businesses don’t suffer and the mission staff and members of the neighborhood surrounding it work hand-in-hand to deter crime.

The mission also provides a full-service restaurant, The Main Ingredient that offers a two (2) choice dinner menu every evening (plus a kids menu) to anyone who calls for or comes by for a reservation (I go at least once a month). The food is consistently outstanding and is prepared by residents of the missions programs and served by local volunteers.

I challenge any member of the SLO community to come up here and visit and find fault with the effort these folks are making in eradicating homelessness and addiction. I would also invite them to visit Hope Village, a transitional tiny home community for the homeless that currently houses approximately 30 individuals with a maximum capacity of 40. I would also encourage that person to sit down with the staff of Rouge Retreat, a homelessness service provider, and see if what they provide can be a model to SLO.

Answers are available if you’re willing to look for them and listen to those who have had significant success in dealing with this challenge; first though, you have to get past the fear mongering, the stigma, the dogma and the outright ignorance most of you suffer from.