Costa Mesa set to spend $6.9 million on location for a homeless shelter

by in News

Costa Mesa plans to spend nearly $7 million to buy a warehouse near John Wayne Airport to use as a homeless shelter.

In the meantime, the city expects to open a temporary shelter within a month at the Lighthouse Church of the Nazarene to offer a nightly place for up to 50 people to stay.

City Council members approved this week – happily, it seemed, from their positive comments – allocating $6.9 million to purchase the 29,815-square-foot industrial building at 3175 Airway Ave., and finish an evaluation of using the property for the permanent shelter.

The property is in a neighborhood of industrial buildings on the west side of the airport’s landing strips. Homes are more than 2,000 feet away and the nearest school or park is even farther.

“We looked through 50 properties to come to this,” Councilman John Stephens said of the effort put into finding an appropriate location for a shelter. “That is pretty extraordinary.”

The city is modeling its plans for the shelter’s operation after the county-owned Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim, where there is security, transportation to the facility and no walking up allowed. All the people staying at the shelter are referred there.

The same operator, Mercy House, would run the permanent shelter and is already in place to run the temporary shelter at the church.

“We have done really good work that is meaningful and will create long-lasting safety in our community and save people’s lives,” Mayor Katrina Foley said.

The city’s commitment to open a 50-bed shelter and a 12-bed crisis unit meet the requirements assigned to Costa Mesa, settling this week a civil rights lawsuit stemming from the clearing out of a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River Trail.

Officials were able to move a couple of park projects around in the city’s operating budget so they will instead be paid for using some of the fees collected from developers for providing recreational amenities, freeing up about $3.3 million that can go toward buying the property. The rest will come from the city’s general fund.

The property to be purchased is also big enough, officials said, that part of it could be portioned off and rented out for about $200,000 a year.