County veers to San Felipe Road for homeless shelter

Tony Ramos is seen here sitting at his camp site behind Jerry's in June of 2010.

Supervisors have changed course on the direction for a permanent homeless shelter three months after pinpointing an area near the airport for the 24-hour center.
On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved an idea to focus on a property at 1161 San Felipe Road, near health and human services facilities, as the preferred location for a new homeless shelter.
Just back in September, the board redirected its attention away from a previously chosen, controversial site on Southside Road for another location on Flynn Road near the jail and airport that garnered its own share of discontent, largely from surrounding business owners.
The board Tuesday not only set the stage for property negotiations and environmental study for the vacant industrial building at 1161 San Felipe Road, but supervisors in a separate decision voted 4-1—with Robert Rivas in the minority—to completely swear off the Flynn Road site as a possibility.
“I think Flynn Road is really damaging for attracting business to San Benito County,” said Chairwoman Margie Barrios, alluding to particular concerns from an industrial park developer who owns nearby property and large employer Corbin Motorcycle Seats & Accessories.
Supervisors have about three years to finish the project in order to receive the full $1.5 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to the county for a permanent shelter. They have to pick a preferred site in order to move ahead on environmental reviews of that location and alternatives.
With Flynn Road out of the way, some other alternative locations include Southside Road, another site near many existing social services, McCloskey Road, and another recently added private property on Buena Vista Road.
Though officials looked at Buena Vista Road, they weren’t all that optimistic about it due to similar issues as along Southside Road having residences nearby.
With the 12,000-square-foot San Felipe Road site, officials are still unsure due to potential costs—being that they would have to buy the property as opposed to Flynn Road where the county owns the land.
Moving forward, officials are working to have an appraisal ready by sometime in January. In the meantime, they’ve engaged with an architect and engineer to assess prospects, said Interim Public Works Director Joe Horwedal.
James Rydingsword, the county’s health and human services director, mentioned how the San Felipe Road site would offer opportunities for daytime services such as employment training. Officials also are in talks with the Community Pantry of San Benito County about potentially working the organization into a service plan.

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