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State sites for sheltering homeless not promising, county says

John Orona
Staff Writer

Gov. Gavin Newsom made 286 state-owned sites available to local governments last week for sheltering the homeless, but county officials said they’ll need more time to assess whether the four potential sites in Nevada County will be suitable for use.

The proposed sites were compiled in an evolving interactive map by the Office of General Services and include a former California Highway Patrol communications center in Truckee; a California Department of Transportation park-and-ride in Penn Valley near Highway 20 and Rough and Ready Highway; and two adjacent plots of undeveloped land near Highway 20 and Mooney Flat Road near the border of Nevada and Yuba counties.

Irregularities with the sites have led county officials to say they have no current plans for using the properties.

“Bottom line is more information is needed from the state,” said Mike Dent, the county’s housing director. “There appears to be an evolving nature to their mapping process that suggests irregularities and the county has no plans using any of these properties as allowed by the governor’s executive order based on the information we have. We can’t consider potentials with inaccurate information.”

The Truckee site, which the governor’s office also listed last year as a potential site for affordable housing development, was reported to be out of compliance with seismic safety standards and facing operational deficiencies. Temporary buildings were used on the property for the highway patrol’s communication center, but the operations have since moved to Chico, transportation officials said.

According to county officials, of the proposed sites the 1.73-acre Truckee property looks to have the most potential at these early stages due to its proximity to water and sewer services. However, more information is still sought from the Department of Housing & Community Development.

The other potential sites pose more immediate challenges than opportunities, with the lack of services nearby the properties expected to make any housing projects difficult, if not completely ruling them out.

At the Penn Valley site, while the state’s map plots to the park-and-ride lot, the county is waiting for more clarity on the exact location and for appraisals to be done on the sites by the state.

“Aerial views of the area suggest the property is actually between the park-and-ride and the highway,” Dent said. “If we are correct, that would also be a grave concern related to build ability and potential safety of any occupants if there was a major accident at that intersection. More clarity from the state is needed.”

The state’s map also lists the two sites east of Mooney Flat Road and Highway 20 as part of Yuba County.

“Knowing the area, we feel the points are in the wrong spot and it may be excess property farther down by Hamilton-Smartsville Road that may have come available after the recent realignment of the highway,” Dent said.

Newsom’s executive order mandating the list of state-owned properties also ordered the state transportation department to develop a lease model for allowing local governments to use property adjacent to highways and state roads, which could explain the two sites.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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