Antonovich yanks backing of new shelter

first_imgCASTAIC – County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich withdrew a proposal to locate a winter homeless shelter on the grounds of the Pitchess jail, citing the Castaic Town Council vote against locating the temporary facility there, officials said Friday. County officials maintained that the plan could work – the 40-cot shelter would have opened at Pitchess Detention Center’s visitors’ parking lot from Dec. 1 through March 15, perhaps once every four to six years. But last week’s 4-3 vote by the local policy advisory panel against staging any homeless facility in Castaic – an unincorporated community of 22,000 northwest of Santa Clarita – convinced them to back off. “Supervisor Antonovich will oppose placing the shelter at Pitchess,” said Tony Bell, spokesman for Antonovich, whose 5th District includes Castaic. “The community spoke through the Town Council, and he will honor their wishes. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “We are working to find an alternative solution that makes sense to the homeless to the community of Santa Clarita Valley. We’re confident we can find a solution for all parties involved.” The Pitchess proposal was scrubbed as Antonovich is working to keep constituents happy with county governance – some Castaic residents and business owners have talked of annexing to the city of Santa Clarita. But Bell denied this influenced the decision. “The supervisor was under no pressure whatsoever,” he said. “He merely took into account the views of the community.” John Kunak, president of the Castaic Town Council, said he was pleased with Antonovich’s decision. “I’m very pleased to see the supervisor has listened to the community view as said to him by the Town Council,” said Kunak, who backed the county plan, but voted against it after dozens of opponents packed last week’s Town Council meeting. “I felt that my responsibility was to represent the people, and the people were telling me not to do it. Antonovich did the same thing.” Opponents said a shelter would increase crime in the community – the county lockup is within a mile south of the nearest subdivision, separated by an eight-lane Interstate 5. Sheriff’s officials have said the facility has had no impact on crime in neighborhoods that have hosted it. Council member Lloyd Carder II, who supported the shelter plan, said he was disappointed by the local reaction. “I wonder if these people are going to be happy if a child succumbs to the elements because the mother couldn’t find shelter,” he said. “Everybody is afraid of the unknown. I’ve actually met some of these people, and it changed my way of thinking. It’s possible we could’ve changed theirs. We just didn’t do a good job.” “The county did a very good job presenting this proposal,” Bell countered. “In addressing the concerns of the Town Council at the meeting, we feel that we’ve met most of the expectations. However, at the end of the day, they voted to oppose. “We do maintain that it’s a good site. But it’s not a good site if the Castaic community doesn’t want it there.” Meantime, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority on Friday granted the Santa Clarita Community Development Corp. the contract to open a local emergency shelter for the ninth consecutive winter. Some wonder whether it could open on time, even if the county offers an alternative. “Basically, we would have to issue all the contracts by the first week of November,” said Andy Pattantyus, an SCCDC board member. “Right now, it seems unlikely we would open on the first of December.” The embattled nonprofit group never had a permanent facility, and complaints from residents have forced it to relocate every few years. The county in August proposed a long-term solution: It would partner with the city and rotate the shelter among four to six sites each year between the two jurisdictions. Officials offered Pitchess as this winter’s shelter site – it will reopen in December 2006 at a yet-undetermined city site. Pattantyus remains optimistic that the county would come through. When the city turned the shelter out of the Via Princessa Metrolink Station last year, the county offered a maintenance yard on Centre Pointe Parkway. The 40-bed facility opened nearly a month late on Christmas Eve, hosting about 77 homeless. Of those, 19 managed to obtain permanent housing, the SCCDC said. “I’m not going to hold my breath because I’m not too sure how long I have to hold it,” Pattantyus said. “But the county and LAHSA want something to happen. It’s just a matter of how they do it, with some degree of buy-in from the community. “At some point, decisions have to be made for the greater good. That’s the dilemma facing the county – they have to make a decision for the greater good knowing the decision is going to be unpopular.” Bell said the county was up to the challenge. “The clock is ticking, and we’re well aware of it,” he said. “We’re confident we will come up with a suitable alternative.” Eugene Tong, (661) 257-5253 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more