Arcata City Council to Consider Converting Two Valley West Hotels into Homeless Housing; Planning Commission Hesitant About the Project | Lost Coast Outpost


The Red Roof Inn and Days Inn in Valley West | Photos: Jacqueline Opalach

Previously: Arcata House Partnership and Danco seek to transform two Valley West hotels into housing projects for the homeless

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As part of its ongoing effort to address the complex issue of homelessness, the City of Arcata is partnering with local development company Danco and the Arcata House Partnership (AHP) to convert two Valley West hotels – Red Roof Inn and Days Inn & Suites – into permanent supportive housing development for the homeless. During tonight’s meeting, Arcata City Council will consider the proposed projects and may take steps to make the zoning changes needed to move the project forward.

The changes will expand the city’s Common Homeless Housing District – an area adopted by the City of Arcata in 2009 to facilitate the development of emergency shelters for the homeless, transitional housing and supportive housing – to include hotel properties. The zoning language will also be modified to allow and set standards for permanent supportive residential developments. Apparently, Permanent Supportive Housing provides residents with permanent housing, along with rental support and assistance services.

On Tuesday night, the Arcata Planning Commission considered the zoning changes and effectively decided that it could not recommend zoning changes, with several commissioners saying they did not feel they had enough information to facilitate the city’s progress on these projects.

Committee Vice Chair Judith Meyer referred to the zoning change as “deceptively simple” and said she was distressed by the fact that no representatives from Danco or Arcata House were present at the meeting. Meyer and some of the other commissioners also noted concerns about the status of these residential developments in Valley West – a neighborhood many see as underserved – and the potential crime and safety issues they might raise.

David Loya, Arcata’s Director of Community Development, addressed many of the commission’s concerns, stating that the two development would have 24-hour on-site management. Loya added that unlike a homeless shelter, the people who live in these facilities will not only pass through and that this housing may attract people looking to change their lives.

“This does not mean that they will not have behavioral problems that will affect society,” Loya told the committee Tuesday night. “This does not mean that they will not have the drug and alcohol problems that they will deal with. But it does mean that they have at least made the first choice to start moving in a positive direction.”

Loya explained that the project includes plans to convert hotel rooms into small apartments that include kitchenettes. In addition to on-site management, accommodation will include other services, such as food services, laundry facilities, and access to counselling.

Depending on their income, many tenants will pay rent and will have the same legal rights as renters of other types of housing. The project will create approximately 138 units – 78 units in the Red Roof Inn for anyone experiencing homelessness, and 60 units in the Days Inn, designated for chronically homeless individuals (those who have been homeless for at least a year and suffer from some type of disability.)

The project will be funded primarily by a grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development’s Homekey Program — a statewide effort, built on Project Roomkey, to rapidly expand housing for people experiencing homelessness. The Board will also vote to approve grant proposals. If approved, City, Danco and AHP are looking to submit bids by January 31, 2022.

Ultimately, the planning committee voted to carry this item forward to their next meeting on January 11, requested more information on what the projects would look like and how they would operate, and solicited input from the Police Department.

City, Danco, and AHP also held two public projects’ meetings on December 1, and according to the task force’s report, it received a lot of positive feedback from the community. However, many community members expressed concern about potential safety, crime and whether the projects would attract more homeless people to the Valley West area than other parts of the area.

If you have strong feelings about these proposed projects, you can attend tonight’s Arcata City Council meeting – held via Zoom – at 6 p.m. The council will also receive an update on the Regional Climate Action Plan and receive public input on the Arcata Gateway District Plan, which the city released for public comment on December 1.

You can view the full agenda and directions on how to participate in tonight’s City Council meeting here.

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