Homeless Shelter Costs For Grownups: Will LB Councilmembers Pursue Pesky Questions And Demand Meaningful Answers To Taxpayer Issues Re 24-Hour Homeless Facility? is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(February 3, 2019, 9:10 a.m.) -- From the standpoint of City Hall management, it's a good deal, almost too good. CA taxpayers statewide will pay $8 million of the $9.5 million purchase price so the City can acquire over 2 acres of property to build a year-round homeless shelter/"campus" in NLB at 6841-45 Atlantic Ave. (former Atlantic Farms site north of the 91 freeway.) ($1.5 million of the price will pay to phase out a current liquor store on the site.)

LB City Hall presumes L.A. County taxpayers (with Supervisor Janice Hahn's support) will then spend up to $3.4 million (Measure H County sales tax increase, not paid in LB) to turn the acquired site into [city staff agendizing memo text] a "state of the art village style campus for homeless services." That leaves LB taxpayers to come up with about $1.5 million in city taxpayer dollars, a sizable but manageable sum, and the property is ours. What's wrong with that? .

Image from Feb. 5, 2019 agendizing memo

[Scroll down for further.]

For starters, why not show the public the property appraisal? No, the Public Records Act doesn't "require" the City to release it but to our knowledge the Act doesn't require City Hall to keep it secret either. The City Attorney can make the call but we see no statutory reason why, in the interest of transparency, the Council couldn't direct city management to release the appraisal before Councilmembers vote on the deal. would like to report who performed the appraisal, when it was performed, and how the appraiser came up with a value of $7.5 million for the property which most recently sold in December 2013 for $2 million.

And what happens if the $3.4 million City Hall expects L.A. County to pay to build the homeless "campus" turns out to be insufficient, like City forecasts for Queen Mary repairs and Port forecasts for the Desmond bridge rebuild? Who'll pay then? (Consider who's paying now after City Hall assured taxpayers the 2002 pension spike was "super funded" and the Long Beach Aquarium wouldn't likely require tapping taxpayer funds.)

The truth is, the Council's Feb. 5 vote will do more than just authorize acquiring the property. It will effectively commit taxpayers at some level(s) to pay continuing annual costs to maintain and operate the year-round homeless "campus." How much? And who'll pay? No responsible adult would buy a house without considering its ongoing costs after the purchase, but that adult-level process hasn't happened in advancing the proposed transaction.

The city-staff proposed transaction effectively hands up-front acquisition costs to state taxpayers. Chances are you're a state taxpayer. $8 million of the $9.5 million purchase price will come from what Sac'to labeled a "surplus" (created by taking more from taxpayers than needed for current spending.) State lawmakers could have conserved the money or rebated it to taxpayers, but in 2018, CA's "big city" Mayors (including LB Mayor Robert Garcia) urged giving a sizable amount to City Halls for homeless spending. CA's legislators agreed and allocated $500 million statewide, LB city staff applied for a share of it and in November 2018 LB Councilmembers voted to receive $9.387 million from Sac'to's "Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), Continuum of Care" funding with $8 million designated for a year-round shelter.

City staff plans to come up with the remaining $1.5 million of the negotiated price (roughly the amount to phase out a liquor store on the site) from the sale of the downtown Broadway Block Site B (200-232 Long Beach Blvd.) All of part of the sale of former LB Redevelopment Agency property was supposed to be used to reduce blight and spur economic activity. Do you believe a year round 125-bed homeless shelter and related campus facilities at that NLB site will do that? Councilman Rex Richardson apparently believes it will. That's his vision, shared by some others, for that NLB neighborhood and perhaps other parts of LB. You can see/hear Councilman Richardson in his own words, along with Vice Mayor Dee Andrews, in extended VIDEO coverage of the press event announcing the proposed property acquisition (embedded below or separately accessible (in our event coverage here)

There are people still alive who say the NLB Atlantic Farms site was once home to a major market in that now-vacant building. We're told one could buy all types of fresh produce, fruits and vegetables, there (all the time, not just on a few days for a few hours at traveling "Farmer's Markets.") And they even had a full-service butcher on site if you wanted a really fresh chicken. Wouldn't that be a nice choice for NLB now, and for the rest of Long Beach?

And while the future homeless shelter/"campus" will consume continuing taxpayer sums, it's not clear to us if it will produce any property tax revenue for the County or the City.

At the press event, Councilman Richardson (surrounded by an orchestrated group of sign-carrying supporters) led childish chants of "when everyone's in, everyone wins." With all due respect, with millions of dollars in current and future recurring annual taxpayer costs involved, in our opinion this proposal deserves adult-level discussion of its real-world taxpayer costs and impacts.

The item is on the Feb. 5 City Council agenda.

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