Last night I held the first of two neighborhood meetings to discuss a request made by Don and Debbie Williams for the City to use it’s emergency powers to declare an emergency and use their property – Taft Hall at 1206 SE 48th Place – as a warming shelter.
It was a great meeting and I appreciated all who attended and participated. As expected, the feelings were deep, personal and passionate. This was to be expected. We are discussing land use which is always a difficult and very personal topic.
The discussion focused on the benefits of a warming shelter for those in need of temporary housing and the impact a shelter has on the neighborhood. I was especially pleased when the discussion turned to ideas from the audience on how to mitigate the negative impacts a shelter can have in an area and still benefit from the services they provide. I’m looking forward to hearing other ideas tonight during our second neighborhood meeting.
Mr. and Mrs. Williams request will be on the City Council agenda on Monday and I have included the following staff report in their packet.
Should the City Council declare an emergency and designate Taft Hall as an emergency, overnight, severe-weather shelter?
The City Council adopted Ordinance No. 2018-14 on October 22, 2018 that amended Lincoln City’s emergency operation procedures. Specifically it stated:
“Upon the declaration of an emergency, and during the existence of such emergency, the terms of any such declaration may include any of the following or such other terms of emergency orders which are not prohibited by law, allowing the City of Lincoln City to: Designate any developed or undeveloped City property for temporary Emergency Operation Uses, including but not limited to use as an emergency facility, shelter, overnight shelter, bivouac, mess hall, temporary campground, staging area, inoculation center, distribution center, or similar emergency operation uses. Private or other public property may similarly be designated by the City, with the permission of the property owner, for such emergency uses. The duration of such authorized uses is only during the period of the emergency and for a reasonable period of time after the end of the declared emergency.”
On November 5, 2018 the City received the following request from Don and Debbie Williams
Debbie and I as owners of property at 1206 48th Pl Lincoln City, OR currently leased to ‘The Warming Shelter’ group, request that the city manager designate Taft Hall as an emergency overnight severe-weather shelter on a temporary basis, with permission to operate on nights when temperatures are forecast to drop below 40 degrees through the end of March 2019.
Don and Debbie Williams”
Taft Hall is located in the Taft Village Core Zone and this use, a shelter, is not permitted in this zone. The staff has encouraged both Mr. and Mrs. Williams and the Warming Shelter to apply for a zone change or a zoning text change if they wish to use this property as an overnight, homeless shelter but they haven’t done so.
Ultimately the decision to rezone the property or change the zoning ordinance text is a land use decision. In as much as it’s always helpful in such cases to receive information from the public, particularly those living in and around the property in question I have gone door to door in the neighborhoods and held two neighborhood information meetings. I’ve learned the following from these activities.
- There are those that support granting the Warming Shelter to operate in its current location.
- There are those that are opposed to allowing the Warming Shelter to operate in its current location.
- Fairly large group that are in the middle and the common word I heard was “torn” between a desire to help and identifying the problems, particularly the off-site problems, an overnight shelter brings. Most common issues identified
- An increased number of people sleeping in the Taft area (on street, in cars, on porches, in back yards, etc.)
- Drug activity
- Wandering through the neighborhoods
- Urinating in public
- Safety concerns, particularly for children and single seniors
The items listed above are off-site impacts. It’s a common practice for conditional use permits to require the applicant to submit and implement a mitigation plan for off-site impacts. It seems reasonable to conclude that an operator of a shelter should provide and implement a plan to mitigate the impact their use has in an area.
The City Council can consider the following options when deliberating on this request.
- Deny the request
- Grant the request
- Grant the request subject to the applicant submitting a mitigation plan
- Grant authority to the City Manager, subject to ratification by the Council, to declare an emergency on an as needed basis and designate public or private property as an emergency shelter.
- Grant authority to the City Manager, subject to ratification by the Council, on an as needed basis to declare an emergency and designate public or private property as an emergency shelter. In addition, require the applicant to submit and pay for a zone text change for the Taft Village Core and a conditional use application for the operation of a homeless shelter.
If the City Council wishes to grant the request by Mr. and Mrs. Williams, the staff recommends option 5. This allows a shelter to operate thereby providing shelter to the homeless and begins the land use process to address the off-site impact of a shelter. In addition, the staff recommends that the City Council require the applicant to submit the zoning and conditional use permit applications by 3 p.m. on Friday, November 30, 2018. Further, the staff recommends the granting of authority to the City Manager to declare an emergency for the use of the Taft Hall as a shelter does not extend beyond March 31, 2019