City Council Approves Public-Private Partnership To Build 200-Bed Temporary Emergency Homeless Shelter

Last night, the Anaheim City Council voted 5-1 to approve a plan for a 200-bed temporary emergency homeless shelter in a vacant commercial building at the corner of State College and Orangewood. The plan is to open the shelter by December 20 and operate it for 60-90 days – until the recently approved Center of Hope and Piano Store shelters open their doors.

In a dizzying example of public policy energy, Mayor Harry’s Sidhu’s temporary emergency shelter project traveled from conception to approval and funding in five days.

Sidhu and other new council members repeatedly praised the work of the previous council in getting the Center of Hope and Piano Store shelter beds in the pipeline, which are expected to open February 1. The temporary emergency shelter on State College is intended to bridge the gap between now and then.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu

“During my campaign for mayor, and even more after Election Night and leading up to our swearing in earlier this week. I had more and more neighbors who felt like they could no longer enjoy our city parks because they could not feel safe with the growing homeless encampments,” said Sidhu.

“People living in Maxwell Park, La Palma Park and Twila Reid Park in particular, contacted me to say the situation was getting out of hand.”

Sidhu also noted that Santa Ana was now able to enforce its anti-camping ordinance after bringing a 200-bed temporary emergency shelter in the space of a month – presenting the danger homeless individuals who didn’t want to enter that shelter would move to Anaheim. That would swell the ranks of city’s homeless encampments before the opening of the Center of Hope and Piano Store shelters allowed enforcement of Anaheim’s anti-camping ordinance to begin.

Sidhu also highlighted the humanitarian aspect of the matter.

“It breaks my heart to think of hundreds of people living in parks in the cold, wet weather this winter and over the holidays,” said Sidhu.

Shelter A Public-Private Partnership
The owner of the State College building, LT Global, is leasing the space to the non-profit Visit Anaheim Cares for free. The city will reimburse Visit Anaheim Cares for up to $600,000 to outfit the space to serve as a temporary emergency homeless shelter. The Illumination Foundation is being contracted by the city to operate the shelter for a per-diem amount not to exceed $805,000.

Earlier this week, the Illumination Foundation was hired by the city to operate a 125-bed Piano Store shelter near Kraemer and La Palma.

Leading Anaheim businesses are pledging funds to offset those costs: the Disneyland Resort, the Angels and the Ducks have each pledged $50,000.  

Anaheim businessman Bill Taormina and the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce have been actively working with Mayor Harry Sidhu to put this project together. They will continue raising private funds to offset the cost to the city.

Taormina said the idea for this shelter started when Sidhu returned on Sunday from an extended family trip to his native India.

“The phone was blowing up [Anaheim Chamber of Commerce President] Todd [Ament’s] and my hands the day he got off of his plane,” said Taormina.

Once the 200-bed temporary emergency shelter is opened, the city could begin enforcing its anti-camping ordinance – a matter of great urgency to Anaheim neighborhoods dealing with the negative impacts of homeless encampments

Mayor Pro Tem Jose F. Moreno has been a leading council voice advocating for the homeless, but was the voice of skepticism about the proposal to immediately provide shelter for the homeless from the winter elements – even engaging in some not-too-subtle sniping.

An attorney representing a nearby luxury apartment, The George, read a letter objecting to the project, raising the prospect of legal action that could delay opening the temporary emergency shelter.  

The Angels, who are also next to the shelter site, responded by donating $50,000 to the construction of the shelter.

Moreno asked City Manager Chris Zapata why the city wasn’t leasing the facility itself, rather than Visit Anaheim Cares.

“This is a fast -moving train,” said Zapata. “It’s been suggested with our partners this could happen quicker while we work on other projects – basically oversee and ram-rod this project with city staff to the extent we can but utilize the approach from the private sector to get this done in the next twenty days.”

Bill Taormina later added that having Visit Anaheim Cares be the lessee takes the city out of risk.

Illumination Foundation President Paul Leon urged the council to approve the agreement and assured them it would be an immediate benefit to the city’s homeless.

“We had already started to ramp up for the Piano Store,” Foundation President Paul Leon told the city council. “So the $800,000, again, a lot of that will go over to the Piano Store – we basically got a head start of two days.”

“The costs are security, beds – that we can transfer over [to the Piano Store],” said Leon. “The big cost is temporary showers, toilets, sinks. They’re costly to bring in because they’re all self-contained.

Leon said there will be limited services but they will bring in counselors, provide medical, mental health and drug dependency services and there will be a dog kennel and dog run.

“It will be a safe place, a humane place,” said Leon. He described the current conditions in places like the Maxell Park encampment as a “public health nightmare” and called it “blessing the proposed temporary emergency shelter on State College “a blessing.”

“By the grace of God, and public-private partnerships, this is a blessing to be able to move them in a facility that we can provide as many services as we can, as fast as we can.”

Leon noted while services will be at the standard but not to the extent that will be available at the Piano Store, “they will be safe, people will be treated with dignity, they will be taken off the street.

District 5 Councilman Steve Faessel Opposed
District 5 Councilman Steve Faessel pointed out that  the Piano Store homeless shelter plan approved earlier this week, as well as the city-owned Center of Hope homeless shelter and County’s Bridges at Kraemer homeless shelter are all in his district. He said he has been “deluged” with calls from his constituents over this latest shelter plan, which will also be in District 5.

“I have been deluged over the last three days since this was announced, by my District 5 residents [and] businesses…that there is concern,” said Faessel. “And it’s not a NIMBY concern – I think District 5 has done more than its share. I believe Anaheim has done more than its share.”

“However, I cannot support this based on the fact that I have heard no other options, no other alternatives, no other spaces that this could be put, or any of these could be put, other than District 5,” said Faessel.

Anaheim Businessman Bill Taormina Indemnifies City
In order to overcome concerns about legal costs or unforeseen financial impacts on the city, Anaheim businessman and philanthropist Bill Taormina offered to sign an indemnification agreement and pay any legal costs incurred by the city.

Taormina went even further: if legal challenges delay the opening of the State College emergency shelter after city funds have been spent to convert the space into a shelter, Taormina pledged to reimburse the city.

“I will guarantee that, too. I will guarantee that any penny you spend, if this fails, will be returned in total to the city of Anaheim – including legal fees if Mr. Lyon [owner of The George] sues the city,” said Taormina. “I don’t know what else I can tell you – you have zero risk.”

Taormina’s pledge flipped Moreno from a “no” to a “yes” vote, and the agreement was approved 6-1, with Councilman Faessel opposed.

17 comments

  1. Thank you for approving this emergency shelter. It will be nice getting Maxwell Park and Haskett branch library back. I hope evictions of the campers will begin the day following the doors opening. I also hope transportation to the shelter will be provided to the campers. Thank you for having access to kennels and dog runs.

    • David Michael Klawe

      Yes, but of the plan is to have CityNet next to the officers, who will provide transportation for the person, and their belongings and pets.

  2. David Michael Klawe

    Just to note, the Vote was 5 to 1 with Councilmember Barnes absent due to medical reasons. She is at the West Anaheim Christmas Lighting tonight and doing well.

    She did send a note that was read at the council meeting voicing support for the shelter.

    I, along with other West Anaheim residents just talked to Councilmember Faessel expressing our understanding his vote. He did state he understood the need and has stopped by the building every day this week, which was stripped of all wiring and plumbing. Just 4 bare walls and a leaky roof that will be repaired.

    But the mood is great here in West Anaheim tonight, and very thankful for all those making this a reality before Christmas.

  3. It’s obvious those who voted for this shelter do not live across the street from it. Shame on you for sneaking this past the residents of that area.

    • Its temporary.. plus lets look at it in a humble perspective… keep working hard..and never look outside your window.. lol

    • David Michael Klawe

      What will create more disruption?

      The building of the LT Platinum Center on the site, or a shelter for a maximum 90 days with security and limited access?

      I would say the construction.

    • Anavia resident: west Anaheim residents were not informed they would be dumped illegally into the motels right next to homes either. We fought very hard, did you? The encampments are right next to our homes in district 1 in PARKS!…and we were NOT asked if that was OK either. This is a temporary shelter to get them OFF the playgrounds. Guaranteed they will complain, ask for more, and never say thank you, except for the ones who really are grateful.

      So it’s not perfect, but let’s see if this works to save our parks.

      • I didn’t know that the residents own the property, buy the property if you don’t want a shelter. You might not like your neighbors but it doesn’t mean you could force him to move out of his house just because you don’t like him.

        • David Michael Klawe

          But you can call Code Enforcement for illegal things like unpermitted structures, encroachment, failure to take care of trash on their property, illegal working on cars and other vehicles, etc.

          You can’t do whatever you wish on your property, the are rules and regulations.

    • Strage that if you would have been so concerned you should have been aware of what’s going on, don’t expect for someone to come knocking on your door to tell you what’s going on, for those who are not aware should be watching or checking the council meetings, most people don’t care to know that shelters are better than your front yard.

  4. We can enforce no camping but it will not solve the issue. These particular folks do not want shelters because they have to follow rules. There are spaces available, they choose not to use them. But at least our parks will be back. And I agree, I hope enforced from day 1.it also will not solve the problem of where do they go during daylight hours. I am sure the Block will not be happy. Maybe they will hang out at the River Trail again?

    • David Michael Klawe

      The shelter is open 24 hours a day with services, plus the residents will need to use shuttles to go to and from it, just like the current Bridges of Kraemer shelter.

      • Shuttles, warm beds, food, dog kennels, showers, expensive bills being paid like lighting, etc., if they are not happy, it is FAR from our fault. Let’s just try it, see how it goes. What could go wrong?

  5. Ps, is everyone aware they are camping now in residential areas, arriving late, popping up a tent and leaving beffort daylight. How comfortable are you with that?!

  6. Reviews on line about the Anavia –

    Everything is beautiful except for the cockroaches at the eating area where you grill your food.
    Not to mention all the noise that goes on at the pool area until all hours of the night….everynight.
    But don’t have your TV on to load for goodness sakes because they will have a security officer come to your apt. by 11:00pm to turn it down.
    I guess it takes away from all the people having sex play and their noises at the pool!
    Guess how much I pay for this fabulous place???? Go on take a guess….

    In Anavia Luxury apartments anything could be stolen. Grocery ( veggies, milk, and eggs) in front my door for 10 mins was stolen. I been living here for almost two years now and I have had experienced and heard from my neighbors many stealing acts. There is no way to renew my rent even though they offer me 0$ rent.

    I don’t live here, but I visit friends here often and, being involved in Real Estate, I feel obliged to review. The property is poorly maintained with broken doors and elevators. Guest parking is virtually non-existent, but perhaps that is just Apartment living. Also it seems that the tenants let their dogs pee all over the halls and elevators, so it smells strongly of urine. To be fair, my friends apartment is nice enough on the inside, with a good floorplan. I’m sure that due to it’s location they charge a premium to live here, but if it were me I’d look for a property that is better maintained.

    I Hope the dirty crazies living across at the Anavia don’t bother or steal from the poor , needy and mentally disabled that will be living across the streets temporarily…

    This was one of the weird new places built in Anaheim where you cannot get in unless you live there so I went online to read about it a year ago – pics of trash in the hallways and lot’s of bad reviews. i just reviewed them and put a few here.

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