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News Details

News Details

May 16, 2013 

Year-Round Emergency Shelter and Multi-Service Center Update

Last Updated: May 16, 2013

Emergency Shelters

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve the purchase of the property at 301 South State College Blvd. in Fullerton for a year-round emergency shelter and multi-service center for at-risk and homeless families and individuals in Orange County.  The County is currently conducting their due diligence, with close of escrow expected in mid June, 2013.

On a separate but related track, the City of Fullerton is processing amendments to the Fullerton Municipal Code (FMC), Title 15 (Zoning Ordinance) regarding zoning for emergency shelters and for transitional and supportive housing.  These amendments are required by a state law commonly referred to as SB 2.  

The following information provides background and a status update on both issues.

Orange County Year-Round Emergency Shelter and Multi-Service Center


At their regularly scheduled meeting on January 15, 2013, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to approve a purchase and sale agreement in the amount of $3,150,000, for the purchase of the property at 301 South State College Blvd. in Fullerton for a year-round emergency shelter and multi-service center for at-risk and homeless families and individuals in Orange County.

The action by the Orange County Board of Supervisors is part of the County's approved "Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness" which includes goals and implementing strategies to effectively end homelessness in Orange County. Plan goals and implementing strategies include, but are not limited to:

  • Improve the emergency shelter and access system.
  • Develop year-round permanent emergency shelters to replace the seasonal Armory Emergency Shelter Program.

The County made a presentation before the Fullerton City Council on February 19 and hosted a Community Meeting on March 11 at the Fullerton Main Public Library. The County also held additional meetings with Fullerton School District.   

The following provides some preliminary details about the proposed Shelter and Multi-Service Center:
  • The Shelter will be owned by the County of Orange and operated by a non-profit contractor. The non-profit contractor will be required to operate the facility in compliance with the County’s good neighbor policy which requires collaboration with the City of Fullerton, residents, businesses, and other stakeholders regarding shelter operation and provision of services.  The proposed shelter would replace the existing Armory Emergency Shelter site.  The Armory shelter is currently operated by Mercy House.  The Fullerton Armory Emergency Shelter program provides up to 200 beds per night for the homeless at the National Guard Armory on Brookhurst St. and Valencia. The homeless receive a meal, a shower, and a place to sleep. Volunteers pass out donations of clothing, and service providers from Orange County also offer needed services on-site. The Armory shelter is currently open during the winter months, based on available funding dollars (approximately 5 – 6 months per year). The proposed shelter facility will be designed to provide emergency shelter for homeless individuals and their families. It will also provide a wide variety of multi-disciplinary services designed to successfully transition clients from homelessness to permanent housing.
  • In addition to assisting those who are already homeless, the proposed multi-service center will provide homeless prevention services and support to assist homeless families and individuals that are at-risk of losing their housing due to unforeseen circumstances.
  • The proposed shelter and multi-service center will replace the existing Armory shelter located at Brookhurst and Valencia which has approximately 200 beds.
  • Specific design features, including the number of beds (not to exceed 200), types of services, requirements for services, and collaborative partners will be determined at a future date through the County’s contractor selection process.
  • The facility will be staffed by the contracted operator 24 hours a day / 7 days a week.
  • The facility will have 24 hour a day / 7 day a week security.  Security plans will be coordinated with the Fullerton Police Department and the County of Orange. 
  • The facility will be managed by the contracted operator in collaboration with various collaborative partners including but not limited to, multiple County Agencies, other nonprofit service providers, and local churches to coordinate services offered to the homeless and at-risk community.

Alternative Site Suggestions:

Following the announcement of the proposed shelter location, several alternative sites were identified by a variety of sources.  The following information was provided by the County Board of Supervisor’s Office regarding alternative sites that have been considered. 

The criteria for considering alternative sites included: 

- Approximately 20,000 to 30,000 square feet in size

- Currently on the market for sale

- Less than 3 million dollars in cost

- Accessibility to public transit

- Meets environmental and regulatory requirements 

1. Former Albertson’s Grocery Store

ADDRESS:                                4100 N Harbor Blvd, Fullerton, C

PRICE:                                      Not for sale, Springstead & Associates is leasing agent, quoted $1 per sq/ft for rent

BUILDING SIZE:                       62,046 sq/ft

2. West Fullerton

ADDRESS:                                1601 E. Orangethorpe Ave, Fullerton, CA

PRICE:                                      $5.6 million

BUILDING SIZE:                       59,926 sq/ft

3. North Anaheim #1 - Orangethorpe Business Park (Hostess Bankruptcy Sale)

ADDRESS:                                901 E Orangethorpe Ave, Anaheim, CA 92801-1126

PRICE:                                      Price Not Disclosed (Federal Bankruptcy sale). This process requires a "stalking horse" bidder who then can be outbid at the court hearing. Call for offers will be on June 12th

BUILDING SIZE:                       20,849 SF

4. North Anaheim #2

ADDRESS:                                1005 E. Orangethorpe Ave, Anaheim, CA

PRICE:                                      No Longer on the Market for Sale

BUILDING SIZE:                       26,400 sq/ft

SB 2 Compliance – Zoning Ordinance Amendments 

Senate Bill 2, referred to as SB2, was adopted by the California State Legislature and went into effect in 2008. The City's Housing Element, adopted in 2010, contains the following policy of intent to amend the Zoning Code to address emergency shelters, transitional and supportive housing:

Policy Action 4.4: Emergency Shelters and Supportive and Transitional Housing

Pursuant the provisions of SB 2, the City shall analyze and revise the existing Zoning Ordinance to allow for emergency shelters, transitional housing, and supportive housing for homeless individuals and families. The City will comply with SB 2 by:

·         Amending the R- 3, R- 4, or R- 5 zones, or other suitable zone(s) with sufficient capacity, to permit emergency shelters without discretionary approvals. The subject zoning category(ies) shall include sites with sufficient capacity to meet the local need.

·         Amending the Zoning Code to ensure shelters are only subject to the same development and management standards that apply to residential or commercial uses within the same zone.

·         Amending the Zoning Code to permit transitional and supportive housing as a residential use and only subject to those restrictions that apply to other residential uses of the same type in the same zone.

Over a period of several months, staff conducted extensive research which was used to prepare the Draft Amendment currently under consideration by the Planning Commission. 

Research included:
  • Interviews with several Emergency Shelter operators
  • Visits to a number of Emergency Shelters and Transitional Housing facilities
  • Input from Fullerton Police Homeless Liaison officers
  • Input from staff members from cities with adopted SB 2 ordinance.
Staff also attended public meetings pertaining to the County's proposed Multi-service Emergency Shelter to understand public concerns. Also considered were the provisions of the SB 2 statute, SB 2 ordinances adopted by a range of cities, and Fullerton's Zoning Code and zoning map. Based on these resources, staff determined that industrially zoned properties were more suitable for emergency shelters than the zoning classifications identified in Policy Action 4.4 above.

Planning Commission Review

The Planning Commission held three meetings to review proposed zoning requirements for emergency shelters, as well as for transitional and supportive housing per SB 2 requirements. The Planning Commission considered the proposed Ordinance Amendments at noticed public hearings held on April 24 and May 8, 2013.  They also held a Special Meeting/Workshop on May 1, 2013 to obtain additional information on the material included in their initial packet.  

The Ordinance Amendments address the policy action items listed above, provide criteria for locating and programming shelters, and provide for establishment of shelters by either a CUP or multi-jurisdictional agreement when the criteria cannot be met.  Throughout the Planning Commission’s review, it was made clear that the proposed FMC Ordinance Amendment is independent of the County’s proposed emergency shelter at 301 S. State College Blvd. in Fullerton.  Although the issues are clearly related, the Amendment is broader in scope and will apply citywide, while the County shelter is a site-specific project which will be processed through separate action.  The County of Orange is exempt from City zoning standards; however County representatives have expressed their desire to work cooperatively with the City within the framework of the proposed ordinance amendment. As such, the County shelter would fall under the multi-jurisdictional agreement provision.  

City Council Review

The City Council is scheduled to review both the Zoning Ordinance Amendments and the multi-jurisdictional agreement with the County at their regular meeting on May 21, 2013 

Public Concerns:

Since the County of Orange Board of Supervisors announced its intention to acquire property for an Emergency Shelter/ Multiservice Center, there have been a number of public meetings to address related issues and concerns. Many people have expressed site-specific concerns about this particular shelter; the concerns have been summarized into general categories applicable to any shelter at any location:

Public safety: Concerns with shelter housing individuals convicted of prior crimes, particularly those of a sexual or violent nature, safety of children at school and while walking to or from school, and potential for crimes against persons or property in their neighborhoods

Nuisance behavior: Concerns regarding potential for littering, loitering, and other inappropriate behaviors

Location of shelters: There is a desire for greater distance between shelters and homes, schools and parks, particularly from those areas where children are involved in sports and other recreational activities

In response to the public concerns, the County proposal includes the following obligations made under a Multi-Jurisdictional Agreement:

·         The Shelter Operator will coordinate with the Fullerton Police Dept. Homeless Liaison Officers on intake and internal security plans to insure the safety of the surrounding community, and will take into account all applicable laws, regulations and ordinances, including but not limited to, City ordinances and State statutes related to the prohibition of registered sex offenders in certain areas in the vicinity of schools, parks and day care centers.  This includes the terms of “Jessica’s Law,” which states that registered sex offenders can’t live within 2,000 feet of a school. 

·         The Shelter Operator will provide office space that is accessible to the Police Homeless Liaison Officers on a 24/7 basis 

·         The Shelter Operator will establish liaison staff to coordinate with City, Police, School District officials, local businesses, and residents on issues related to the operation of the Facility.

·         The County recognizes that the development of the Shelter at this particular location may cause concerns in the surrounding community. To that end, the County and/or the Shelter Operator will agree to coordinate with owners of the surrounding properties, including but not limited to Commonwealth Elementary School and adjacent apartment communities and neighborhoods, to determine necessary design features.  In addition, the County proposal includes a plan to develop a citizens’ oversight committee to oversee the shelter operation.   

Case Studies

The following case studies information is in regards to staff research on other homeless shelters currently operating locally and regionally. While no shelter is a “perfect” match to the proposed OC Emergency Shelter, many comparisons can be drawn from existing models that are currently in place.  

1. PATH Mall (People Assisting the Homeless), Los Angeles 

WEBSITE:                    http://www.epath.org

TYPE:                           Transitional, Multi-Service Center

OPERATING HRS:       Open weekdays 7:30 am – 4:30 pm for services with transitional housing on upper floors.

CAPACITY:                  185 beds total

FUNDING:                   Various City, County, State, and Federal grants, and private donations

SERVICES:                   People can stop in for meals or a place to hang out during the day.  Transitional housing offered on upper floors, no set duration of stay, goal is to get people into permanent housing as quickly as possible. They have a large “Resource Center” which is a waiting room and intake area.  In the first floor of the facility there are a mental health provider, health care clinic, substance abuse counseling, salon, Community Court and other service providers, job clinic with computers and assistance in looking for jobs online.

DESCRIPTION:            Services offered using the “one-stop” model, the PATH Mall is a unique kind of mall designed to offer support for the homeless. Services are provided by over 20 on-site social service providers, all under one roof. Some of the services available at the PATH Mall include case management, substance abuse counseling, a job center, mental health services, legal advocacy, healthcare, and even a beauty salon. Their process starts with outreach teams making contacts with homeless living on the streets.  It can take months or years to get people to consent to help, and to come in for services.

2. OPCC (Ocean Park Community Center), Santa Monica

WEBSITE:                           http://www.opcc.net

TYPE:                                  Transitional / limited emergency, Multi-Service Center

OPERATING HRS:             Normal business hours

CAPACITY:                        150 beds total

FUNDING:                         Various City, County, State, and Federal grants, and private donations

SERVICES:                         Case management, meals, showers, clothing, laundry, medical / mental health services, referrals

DESCRIPTION:                  Opened in 1963, the Access Center is the first point of entry for homeless individuals and families seeking assistance. In addition to providing basic and emergency services such as food, clothing and restroom facilities to approximately 275 people daily, the Access Center assists homeless men, women and children in developing individual plans to identify strengths and goals in order to return to a life of stability and self-sufficiency. The focus of our staff and volunteers is to help each person who enters our doors and empower them to move off the street and into permanent housing. 

3. Connections Housing, San Diego 

WEBSITE:                           http://www.sdconnections.org

TYPE:                                  Transitional, Multi-Service Center

OPERATING HRS:              Normal business hours

CAPACITY:                         223 housing units

FUNDING:                         Various City, County, State, and Federal grants, and private donations. The total cost to develop Connections Housing was $38 million for the entire multi-purpose facility. The combined operating budget for the PATH Depot, Family Health Center, 150 interim housing beds, and 73 permanent supportive housing units is approximately $3.7 million annually.

SERVICES:                         An on-site "One Stop Service Center" with approximately 30 nonprofit and community partners providing supportive services to address the root causes of homelessness. The PATH Depot provides services for those living in permanent and interim housing on-site as well as people living on the streets in downtown San Diego.

DESCRIPTION:                  Connections Housing is a service and residential community designed to reduce street homelessness in the downtown neighborhoods by helping people who are living on the street move into permanent housing. Connections Housing provides 223 housing units, a health center and numerous social services all conveniently located in one building. Connections Housing is one part of downtown's larger strategy to end homelessness. 

4. Friendship Shelter, Laguna Beach 

WEBSITE                           http://friendshipshelter.org

TYPE:                                 Emergency & Transitional

OPERATING HRS:             Overnight, 5pm – 10am

CAPACITY:                        Facility has space for 45 mats, preference given to those with connections to Laguna Beach

FUNDING:                         Nearly 2/3’s of funding comes from private donations and events. 25% comes from foundation and government grants

SERVICES:                         County health screening, laundry, meals provided by volunteers

DESCRIPTION:                  Friendship Shelter is a private non-profit 501 [c] [3] organization founded in 1987. Our mission is to help the homeless regain self-sufficiency and become more productive members of the community. We serve the homeless of Orange County. We have served over 6,000 homeless adults since inception.

For more information regarding the Orange County Commission to End Homelessness and the 10-Year Plan:


For more information on the County’s proposal: http://cams.ocgov.com/Web_Publisher_Sam/Agenda01_15_2013_files/images/A13-000002.HTM

Homepage for the Orange County Board of Supervisors: http://media.ocgov.com/gov/bos/default.asp