A group that proposed opening a day-use center for the homeless in Grover Beach withdrew its application a day after city planners found the project was compatible with the property.
The center was to go before Grover Beach planning commissioners Tuesday for a development permit, but applicant Don Passineau said his community group, Acts of Random Kindness, had to pull out at the last minute after the property owner decided to sell rather than lease his space.
The project was proposed within a 10-suite commercial property at 750 Farroll Road, used mostly for offices.
The 2,400-square-foot center was to provide clients access to television and reading materials as well as information on social services and other resources. It would operate between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. with a maximum occupancy of 20 people. The center would not have served food or provided counseling.
A city staff report recommended the Planning Commission issue a permit, finding the facility consistent with the city General Plan, suitable for the complex and not a public safety hazard.
However, staff suggested conditions: Acts of Random Kindness must monitor activity and report quarterly to the Planning Commission on any violations.
As with similar proposals in Grover Beach, the project sparked concerns from neighbors.
The city received several emails from tenants of the complex with concerns ranging from parking and traffic congestion to loitering.
But Passineau said Wednesday those concerns were not the reason for dropping the application. He said he learned of the city staff’s recommendation and called the real estate company on Friday, only to be told the owner was selling the property.
“It shot me in the foot a little bit,” Passineau said. “We thought they had it all taken care of.”
The property owner could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Community groups have long tried to open a community center for the homeless and been stymied by concerns from residents.
The 5Cities Homeless Coalition has tried for several years to find a site for a day shelter that would offer job and housing assistance, mental health services and hot meals.
In July 2013, the South County People’s Kitchen lost its spot at a local church, and in October 2013 the City Council denied it a permit to operate for eight months in a county-owned lot on South 16th Street.
Passineau said his group still is committed to bringing a day center to Grover Beach and is looking at a couple of other sites. But he understands the backlash, he said.
“They have a real ‘I don’t want them here’ thing in this city, and that’s OK. We’re a new organization, and until we can prove to them we can manage this (center) responsibly and not disturb people, I can understand their concerns,” Passineau said. “I’m a homeowner myself.”
Passineau said his group is seeking federal grants to provide homeless services and mental health and housing resources to veterans. That funding could give more clout to the young organization, which formed in March 2014, he said.
“No, we’re not going to go away,” Passineau said. “We’re going to make this happen.”