Sutter Co Airport Homeless Village

by Lou Binninger

Sutter County Public Information Officer (PIO) Chuck Smith says, “There’s a saying around here that nothing is on the agenda until the agenda is posted.” That’s makes sense, but Yuba and Sutter County citizens don’t trust their politicians so rumors abound about what is being considered to be on the Supervisors’ agenda. Residents have been fooled before.

Currently, people are hearing all kinds of stories about the upcoming Homeless Village planned for the Sutter County Airport that will affect a number of current and adjacent uses. PIO Smith wrote to clarify what is happening at the October 10th and 24th board meetings.

The homeless have been dictating city and county policy by their errant behavior, law breaking and ignoring county ordinances. Their acts of entitlement give them more benefits than taxpayers who pay for services.

Smith describes a County Two-Year Plan, not to resolve homelessness, but to spend millions in tax dollars on more programs for them. Mark the Plan on the calendar.

At the October 10 board meeting, supervisors will entertain the second and final reading of a new and improved camping ordinance more perfectly teasing out what is and is not acceptable. Smith says this is the only aspect regarding the homeless to be considered at this gathering.

However, the entire Homeless Village proposal will be presented by county staff for Board approval at the October 24th meeting. This will address funding for a temporary emergency shelter for up to 200 people. There will be 17 large tents on cement slabs, with 24/7 security and sanitary facilities.

The camp will be used until a 6,000 square foot structure can be constructed nearby. “Startup costs (including lighting, four acres of base rock, a concrete slab, environmental studies, potential mitigation measures, and a portable office modular building) are estimated at $250,000; the tent shelter is about $115,000 (tents, cots, fencing, animal kennels, onsite storage for personal belongings); and another $285,000 in operating costs (including sleeping bags, toiletries, meals, services provided by Hands of Hope non-profit, and private security).” This comes to $650,000 plus county staff costs.

Then, the county will apply to the state and federal governments for permission to use up to $720,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the construction of the permanent long-term emergency shelter housing up to 60 people.

Smith says if the plan is approved, the Tent Village would only be utilized until the permanent structure is up and occupied in a year, 18 months or so. As the Village is erected the revised camping ordinance will be enforced to remove the homeless population from the river bottom property between Shanghai Bend and the Yuba City Boat Dock. The assumption is that the squatters will migrate to the Tent Village but no one can be forced to locate there.

The PIO’s email says the county will offer paths to self-sufficiency, including job training and affordable housing. Weren’t these already available? Health and Human Services and local service providers for the poor will be enlisted to do what they were already supposed to be doing. Right? Is there anything new offered here other than living facilities?

Since government has a horrible record teaching self-sufficiency, job training and being in the housing business, this could get interesting. One thing for sure, a lot of money will be spent, approaching $2 million to launch.

For years, welfare workers were forbidden to even offer budgeting help to aid recipients. Now, are they becoming self-sufficiency mentors? Where have they been?

According to a county official the welfare department has not filed a fraud case in years and doesn’t even confirm residence addresses to hand-out aid. The agency refused to file a welfare fraud case against former District Attorney Carl Adams’ escort Sarah Garibay though she was collecting county benefits while living on thousands of dollars a month from male clients.

As the October 24th meeting agenda is not finalized additional items may appear or points above may change. Watch for the agenda posting on the Sutter County website.

A number of current uses along Second Street will be eliminated or negatively affected by the homeless development. Those uses include the airport itself, Little League Parks, the Sheriff’s Posse Arena, Twin Cities Road and Gun Club shooting range, and the Sheriff’s Training Center and Range.

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