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    Santa Paula Planning Commission Approves Permissible Areas for Shelters

    By Sheryl Hamlin

    The only item of business on the August 27, 2019 Planning Commission Agenda was a modification to the Santa Paula Municipal Code. From the Staff Report:

    The proposed amendment would amend the following chapter of the SPMC:

    1. Chapter 16.21 – Industrial Zones to make the provisions consistent with the purpose and intent of the State law, which requires an analysis of zoning regulations, development standards to make available land sufficient to: (i) accommodate the need for emergency shelters and at least one year-round facility, (ii) allow emergency shelters “by right” within at least one zone district; and (iii) remove regulatory barriers that prevent or otherwise impede the development of emergency shelters.

    2. Chapters 16.15 and 16.21 – Commercial and Industrial Zones to encourage Transportation Demand Management techniques including on-site shower and locker facilities for commuters thereby encouraging the City’s continuing pursuit of programs that encourage the local workforce to utilize alternatives to single occupancy vehicles in both existing and new developments

    Senate Bill 2, 2007-2008

    Signed by the Governor in 2007, the bill adds “emergency shelters” to the required Municipal Housing Element. Read the bill here.

    In response to public comments, Director Mason indicated that a shelter could be a homeless shelter or an emergency shelter for a fire or an earthquake. According to the staff report, “The zoning ordinance amendment would merely add emergency shelters to the list of permitted uses on industrially designated land in the City”, this modification does not call out a specific parcel or project.

    Map of Areas

    The colored map shows the current permitted area (134 acres) with the additional permitted zoning, which doubles the permitted area.

    Orange is (Commercial/Light Industrial) CL-I, which currently permits Emergency Shelters outright. The Royal and Aqua Blues are proposed, (Industrial) I and (LIght Industrial) LI respectively.

    Click here for a larger version of the map: I-LI-CLI Parcels 08.2019

    Map, source staff report

    Addition of Showers/Restrooms

    The 1988 version of the Santa Paula Municipal Code (SPMC) disallowed showers in industrial because of a concern for unpermitted housing in this zoning type. But now with people walking and biking to work, employees like to shower after a long bike ride or a lunch exercise.. So this modification also facilitates the transit plan whereby bicycling or walking could eliminate car trips.

    There was also an expensive CUP (Conditional Use Permit) fee of $4000 which will be eliminated.

    Commissioner Dunkel asked about the map noting that some industrial areas are adjacent to schools or parks. Planning Director Mitchem said that this ordinance does nothing to regulate activity in shelters which is already in the code. The ordinance change provides a broader distribution and more opportunity for shelter sites.

    Audience Concerns

    Mr. Escalante, who owns the property next to the Santa Clara River and which is also in a residential area questioned the use of his parcel for a shelter. His property has been used/is being used by river transients as a path to the city. See article here.

    Director Mason indicated the the zoning would allow a shelter, but a project would have to be approved by the property owner if he/she were approached by a shelter operator.


    Commissioner Dunkel moved to approve with a 4-0 vote. Commissioner Eickerd was absent.

    Audience Question

    The chair reopened Public Comments for one resident who did not understand the order. She said she lived at 228 N. 10th Street, but had not received a letter about the BID, so did not vote. She wondered if her property was in the BID (Business Improvement District) boundary. The question was referred to the Assistant City Manager Ikani Tamaupeau who had left early, but other staff members too the information for follow-up.


    Read the staff report and listen to the meeting here.

    For more information on author click sherylhamlin dot com

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