ENCINITAS — Emergency homeless shelters are now allowed by right in the city’s business park, as the City Council moved to align its policy governing emergency shelters with state law.
The council voted 4-0 Jan. 9 in favor of the change after a brief discussion near the end of a marathon meeting.
Currently, the city code doesn’t allow emergency shelters by right. A shelter could be opened in a commercially zoned property, but the applicant would have to apply for a major use permit, which is costly and an exhaustive process.
State law changed in 2008 requiring cities to ensure emergency shelters were granted by right in the zone of the city’s choice.
The city chose its light industrial and business park zone, which includes several properties, 28 acres, near the intersection of Encinitas Boulevard and Quail Gardens Drive.
The new ordinance also alters the city’s definition of emergency shelter to change the maximum length of stay from 30 days to six months, also in line with state law.
Community Resource Center, which provides support services for the homeless and domestic violence victims, endorsed the city’s new ordinance.
John Van Cleef, the organization’s executive director, said that the new ordinance — which includes development standards aimed at making the shelter compatible with surrounding businesses — both protects quality of life and the people who need the services.
The city’s new code caps the maximum bed count at 45 per facility, and requires at least 300 feet between shelters and an operational plan and full-time staffing at all hours.
“We need to protect home values and we need to build actual housing units for residents and emergency shelters for the homeless,” Van Cleef said. “We need to protect the businesses that drive our local economy and protect the vulnerable people who live in our community.”