Homelessness

California Hospital Sinks Plan To House Homeless in Nearby Motel, Citing Danger Posed to Employee Parking Lot

The Bakersfield City Council has refused to grant a permit for a local nonprofit to lodge homeless residents in a roadside inn as part of the state's Project Roomkey.

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Nonprofit homelessness advocates have spent the COVID-19 pandemic trying to house homeless people in hotels rather than crowded shelters where the coronavirus can easily spread. Time and again, these advocates have run into opposition from NIMBY neighbors and city officials.

The latest example comes from Bakersfield, California. On Tuesday, Los Angeles Times columnist Erika Smith published a story detailing how a local hospital scuttled plans to lodge homeless residents in a nearby motel because it was too close to their employee parking lot.

Bakersfield's local homeless nonprofit, the Bakersfield-Kern Regional Homeless Collaborative (BKRHC), had planned to rent out 21 rooms in the city's Rosedale Inn for several months at the cost of $383,966. Funding was to be provided by the state's Project Roomkey, a largely federally funded program that pays for putting up homeless people in hotel rooms and providing services to them while they're there.

The Times reports that previous attempts to house some of Bakersfield's homeless residents in hotels had fallen through because of opposition from nearby homeowners. BKRHC's director, Anna Laven, had hoped that the Rosedale Inn, which was not near any residential neighborhood, would be a less controversial location.

But while it wasn't next to any housing, the roadside motel was near the Bakersfield Heart Hospital, whose employee parking lot is located a short distance from the Rosedale Inn.

Using the inn as temporary housing for the homeless required the city's Board of Zoning Adjustment to issue a conditional use permit to the BKRHC. In an August 10 letter, the hospital's lawyers argued against the plan.

Granting BKRHC's permit "would significantly add to the problems which already emanate from the Rosedale Inn which includes but [is] not limited to, illicit drug use, vagrancy, theft, and vandalism of hospital property, theft and vandalism of cars parked on hospital property and an increased exposure of patients and staff of the hospital to COVID-19 and other adverse consequences," reads the letter.

The letter from hospital attorneys also asserted that the homeless themselves would be made worse off by being housed in the Rosedale Inn, given the reported crime and drug use that happens there.

That letter didn't manage to convince the city's zoning board, which voted to grant BKRHC a conditional use permit. However, the hospital appealed the decision to the Bakersfield City Council, which proved more receptive to its concerns. It rejected BKRHC's permit application, leaving the organization without much hope of finding another motel to serve as a site for its Project Roomkey initiative.

This is hardly the first time that a plan to put up homeless people in hotels during COVID-19 has been shot down as a result of neighborhood opposition.

New York City's decision to lodge 300 homeless men in a hotel on the city's wealthy Upper West Side neighborhood met with such fierce opposition from existing residents that the city eventually agreed to relocate the men.

Back in April, the mayor of Florence, Kentucky pressured a hotel to back out of an agreement it had made with two local nonprofits to rent out 40 rooms to serve as temporary housing the area's homeless population.

Whether they represent wealthy, urban, and liberal communities, or poorer, rural, conservative ones, few local politicians seem to like the idea of having homeless people live indoors nearby. Zoning codes requiring additional approval for temporary housing arrangements often enable this rank NIMBYism.

Worse still this NIMBYism serves only to interfere with voluntary arrangements made by nonprofits serving the homeless, the hotel owners willing to house them, and the homeless themselves who are eager to avoid bunking in dangerous shelters.

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  1. Not just NIMBY homeowners and business owners are complaining. The hotels that got drafted by the state are dealing with ongoing damage from their new tenants.

    1. Sounds like for this particular ‘hotel’ the clientele were going to be more of a lateral move.

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  2. I’m surprised hotels are willing to go along with this. Seems like a good way to get your property permanently converted into a homeless shelter, when the state decides you are allowed to kick them out at the prearranged time.

    1. My guess is the hotel is now a city-owned property. How that city became the owner is probably a good question… like did the city eminent domain it like it has in various situations in San Francisco: Hotel owner comes down to the mailbox one morning to find 40% of his rooms are now “low income housing”.

  3. And they were right to. Reason loves bums but the victims of their crimes are less enamored

    1. It is my right as a human being to shit on the sidewalk and masturbate in front of school children. Vote Libertarian 2020!

      1. Why go risky third party when you can just vote Democrat?

  4. ” voluntary arrangements”.
    We are gonna restrict any tourism or business travel, so you can go out of business or give us a good bulk rate on a cadre of mentally ill unhygenic petty criminals

    1. I was going to say the same thing, but you beat me to it.
      It’s the same way I voulentarilly give money to the Gov to fund shitty schools and Democrat campaigns

  5. Excuse me while I shed a tear for federal tax dollars not being spent to shelter homeless folks.

    I’m not a fan of NIMBYism, but if your program lives by the government sword (funding), then it dies by the government sword (public input/sway).

  6. 21 rooms for several months at near $400Gs.

    Either reason is smoking crack or they have gone over to the big government darkside.

    1. At what appears to be the type of motel that charges by the hour already, and probably has it’s share of missing lightbulbs if you catch my drift.

      They could have bought the entire place for less than that.

      1. >missing lightbulbs
        Tell me more about the homosexual lifestyle.

        1. You did not catch my drift. People have found that light blubs make decent pipes for smoking certain things.

          1. What! There are no gas stations nearby that sell single roses? Jeez, talk about living in the sticks…

            Yours might be more true to life, but the Rabbi’s comment was funnier.

            1. I’m kind of curious as to how you could smoke something via a “single rose,” enlighten me? Bit frankly, this is California, near a known drug spot…..the gas stations probably have a fine selection of “incense burners” for your crystal smoking pleasure, lol.

              1. The roses come in a glass container. Add a piece of non-flammable mesh—Chore Boy cleaning sponges work well, per the following Forbes article—and you have a field-expedient drug smoking pipe. https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2012/07/12/a-rose-in-a-glass-by-any-other-name-is-a-crack-pipe/

                It’s another way to tell if you’re in the ‘hood or not.

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    2. Assuming 120 nights is equivalent to “several months” that’s $152 a night per room.

      Even stretching it to 180 days that’s still over 100 a night.

      Online reservations for this place are 45-50 a night as near as I can tell. Typical of government to overpay by 2-3 times

      1. You have to pay the motel AND the charity.

  7. Funding was to be provided by the state’s Project Roomkey, a largely federally funded program…

    So in what sense was this a state project other than in the usual “I’ve got great ideas for how we can spend your money” sort of way?

    1. And WIH does ‘non-profit’ have to do with anything?

  8. I thought the “emergency” would allow bypassing such minor inconveniences as zoning ordinances?

  9. okay let’s do some high school math and see EXACTLY how truly excellent the plan was (is).

    21 rooms for three months is 21 x 90 = 1,890 nights

    $383,966/1,890 = $203.16/per night

    YOU FUCKING RETARDS CAN BUY THE DAMN PLACE FOR THAT MUCH

    1. Then they would have to run it which would mean government employees, this is California so they would have to be union probably making 100k a year plus benefits. It would also have to be brought up to their standards, an additional 5 mill…

      1. So what’s the problem – that they’d actually have to work?

  10. roadside inn as part of the state’s Project Roomkey.

    Oh I’ll bet this is a roller coaster ride of lulz.

  11. i just checked the rosedale rack rate and it’s $48 for a room tonight. i also note that the place is NOT the route 66 fleabag pictured in the story so shame on you reason for being deceptive…ON PURPOSE

    1. Now, now. It is editorial policy at Reason that the pictures used be unrelated to the articles.
      This is no different than half the other things done here.

      1. But usually at least Gillespie’s learned to mix some fan service in with the clip art.

        $180-200 a night to house bums, huh? One hell of a kickback to the relevant politician and their district.

        1. “…$180-200 a night to house bums, huh? One hell of a kickback to the relevant politician and their district…”

          In SF, we had a (now termed out) lefty shitbag supervisor (councilman) who, as ‘remediation’, required developers to fund ‘neighborhood centers’. I’m sure you will not be surprised that they employed many of that shitbag’s campaign workers.
          Newsom was mayor at the time, but he didn’t give a shit, he was angling for ‘higher office’ as he has been since day one.

  12. This is hardly the first time that a plan to put up homeless people in hotels during COVID-19 has been shot down as a result of neighborhood opposition.

    In this case, “Neighborhood opposition” is a healthcare worker’s union.

  13. New York City’s decision to lodge 300 homeless men in a hotel on the city’s wealthy Upper West Side neighborhood met with such fierce opposition from existing residents that the city eventually agreed to relocate the men.

    In this case, “neighborhood opposition” is a Hillary Clinton Stronghold.

  14. As a former medical professional myself it should be noted that many nurses are younger females, hospital staff has to get off at all hours of the day, and often go to their vehicles (which like most employee parking is quite a distance from the hospital) by themselves. For them to worry about the safety of their employees is not NIMBY, it is a legitimate concern.

  15. Don’t understand why not wanting homeless people living near you is a bad thing. You invest time and money in your home, you may have children you are concerned about. I pass by homeless on my way to work and though some seem harmless I would say 30% have serious mental issues and 70% have drug addiction issues. They crap where ever they want, they sleep in the middle of the sidewalk so you have to walk around them, they harass innocent people when they walk by. If you say you would not mind them in your neighborhood, then your lying. And why do they have to be in cities and large towns? Just buy some land in the middle of Nebraska, build some shacks and a cafeteria and move them out there…it was good enough for the soldiers in WWII wasn’t it? If shelter is and a hot meal is all they are asking for then it should not matter where it is right?

    1. That’s a good answer we have several shut down military facilities no longer being used (a number in California) why not move the homeless there?

      1. And have R. Lee Ermey kick in the door and throw trashcans down the aisle at 430am.

        1. In 2003 my unit was houses in condemned WWII clapboard barracks while we waited for orders. They were only rated for habitation for 2 weeks, we spent nearly 4 months in them.

    2. “And why do they have to be in cities and large towns?”

      Because, like why Willie Sutton robbed banks, “It’s where the money is.”

    3. >Don’t understand why not wanting homeless people living near you is a bad thing.

      Personally I don’t think that part is such a bad thing. The bad thing is that you need a permit to house people in a motel in the first place. I mean, come on. It’s already zoned such that anyone who pays for a room can sleep there. It shouldn’t need any further permitting to allow homeless to sleep there.

      1. “…It’s already zoned such that anyone who pays for a room can sleep there. It shouldn’t need any further permitting to allow homeless to sleep there.”

        On your dime?

        1. Whether sheltering homeless in motels at apparently much more than the normal motel rate is a wise use of tax money, is a separate question from whether you should need a permit to do it.

  16. If I ran a city with a this problem, I would try to solve it by buying Greyhound tickets to California for the homeless. Let them deal with it. If you choose to own a house in California, you deserve what you get.

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  18. Need some actual journalism here and we’re not getting it; this is J-ism by press release and mailed in besides.
    1) “Non-profit” suggests voluntary funding. In SF, that’s bullshit; a large percentage of the n-ps, operate with funding from the city and those funds are distributed by patronage to supporters.
    2) Want more bums? Look to SF there also. Provide hotel rooms, with private baths and free delivery of booze or dope, and you can see how the bum population might increase.
    So, unless CB comes up with something that carries the barest whiff of skepticism, I’m firmly on the side of that hospital and they don’t even have to offer a reason.

  19. Let’s start by parsing the headline:

    “California Hospital Sinks Plan To House Homeless in Nearby Motel, Citing Danger Posed to Employee Parking Lot”\

    Corrected:
    “Local Hospital Successfully Objects to Using Government Funds to House Bums Near Their Facility”

  20. If I ran a city with a this problem, I would try to solve it by buying Greyhound tickets to California for the homeless. Let them deal with it. If you choose to own a house in California, you deserve what you get.

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  22. Most of the homeless are screwed up in their heads, either drugs or alcohol or mental illness or both. The solution isn’t hotel rooms or putting them near vulnerable victims.

    The solution is reopening the mental institutions and locking up these people until they can care for themselves. The solution is criminalizing vagrancy and making rehabilitation a condition of expunging criminal history.

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