Orange County Register, Oct 1, 2015
BY ART MARROQUIN / STAFF WRITER
ANAHEIM – About 600 supporters and opponents of a proposed homeless shelter gathered Wednesday night to express concerns ranging from a potential hike in crime for surrounding neighborhoods to the fate of needy people if the 200-bed facility doesn’t open.
Representatives from Orange County and the cities of Anaheim and Fullerton explained how the proposed shelter would be operated and secured if it opens in a vacant warehouse at 1000 N. Kraemer Place, in an industrial area known as Anaheim Canyon.
“It’s time that we help the veterans,” Curtis Gamble, a Navy veteran who’s been homeless for six years, told those gathered at the forum at Eastside Christian Church.
“We served the country, we looked out for you,” Gamble said. “It’s time for you to look out for us.”
A majority of the shelter’s supporters represented advocacy groups, charities and churches that provide homeless services. Opponents included business owners and residents who said the proposed shelter was too close for comfort.
“They’re going to be walking on the sidewalks and it’s not going to be safe for my workers,” said George Schaffer, owner of UDC Corp., which is down the street from the shelter site. “I’m not against homeless shelters, but that ain’t the place.”
Angie Armenta, a retired teacher from Anaheim, said that she did not want her grandchildren “exposed to the danger and the Skid Row feeling” at Rio Vista Park, located about 1 ½ miles from the proposed shelter.
Caroline Alatorre told opponents that anyone could become homeless, and that she was “disgusted that you care more about your property than the value of human life.”
The Orange County Board of Supervisors could decide as soon as November whether to convert the Kraemer warehouse into a homeless shelter, equipped with a multiservice center that would assist occupants with health, employment, housing and other services. County officials are expected to close the $4.2 million purchase of the 1.87-acre site by the end of this month.
Homeless people wanting to stay at the shelter would have to reserve a space and undergo background screening to prevent registered sex offenders and wanted felons from entering, said Karen Roper, director of Orange County Community Services.
Walk-ins wouldn’t be allowed, but up to 10 percent of the shelter’s beds would be set aside for people referred by local law enforcement agencies. Unarmed private security guards would patrol the property, which would also be equipped with metal detectors, cameras and outdoor lighting.
There were 11,962 police calls involving the homeless in Anaheim during the 2014-15 fiscal year, said Anaheim Police Chief Raul Quezada. If the shelter opens, Quezada said additional officers would be placed on the Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team, established two years ago to build a rapport with the growing number of indigents living in Orange County’s most populous city.
More than 4,400 people were found to be homeless during an overnight count conducted in Orange County earlier this year, a 5 percent increase from 2013, according to the county’s Commission to End Homelessness.
Just before the community meeting, Judd Estrada sat with a group of 10 homeless people at Anaheim’s La Palma Park. They all said they would benefit from a shelter.
“People who are opposed will always be opposed to a shelter,” Estrada said. “But they should live a day in our shoes.”
Homeless shelter starts and stops
2012: Providing a year-round emergency shelter is the top recommendation of the Orange County Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness.
January 2013: The Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approve the $3.15 million purchase of a vacant furniture store at 301 S. State College Blvd. in Fullerton to be converted into the county’s first year-round shelter.
May 2013: The Fullerton City Council voted 3-2 to approve several zoning changes to clear the way for homeless shelters to operate in three areas of the city, including the shuttered furniture store.
June 2013: After concerns were raised by opponents, the Fullerton City Council voted 3-2 against an agreement with the county to run the proposed shelter.
March 2014: The Anaheim City Council agreed to purchase three acres of vacant property bounded by Harbor and Anaheim boulevards, the 91 freeway and Carl Karcher Way to serve as a potential shelter site. The $3 million parcel was once the home base for the company that operates the Carl’s Jr. fast-food chain.
July 2014: The county Board of Supervisors agree to begin proceedings to buy a $3.6 million industrial building at 1217 Normandy Place in Santa Ana for a shelter.
October 2014: The Santa Ana City Council places a 45-day moratorium on homeless shelters.
November 2014: Public outcry prompted the Board of Supervisors to unanimously reject plans to purchase the Normandy Place building for a shelter.
December 2014: Anaheim and county officials said that prospects were dimming for a homeless shelter on the Karcher property.
March 2015: County officials turn their attention to a vacant warehouse at 1000 N. Kramer Place in an industrial area in Anaheim as a potential homeless shelter site.
May 2015: The cities of Anaheim and Fullerton agreed to contribute $500,000 each toward the county’s $4.2 million purchase of 1000 N. Kraemer Place.
June 2015: The county Board of Supervisors agree to buy 1.87 acres at 1000 N. Kraemer Place for a possible shelter.