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Jamestown Pallet Shelter Opening Pushed To Spring

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Jamestown, CA — Tuolumne County staff members had been moving toward opening a Pallet Shelter community for homeless residents by late this fall, but the board of supervisors decided to push the date to the spring.

It was noted that it will cost $651,000 to get the shelter up and running, but there are still unknowns related to things like daily operation costs, security, etc. As reported previously, it will be located in a parking lot at the former Jamestown Mine site.

Staff provided an update to the board at this week’s meeting, and noted that there are multiple grants applied for that the county is hoping to receive, which will hopefully offset operational costs.

Homeless Services Coordinator Michael Roberson requested input from the board on how they wish to move forward, and stressed, “We’re sort of at the point where if we want to be operational before winter hits, we need to get going on it.”

The board majority then directed staff to delay opening until the spring so that more is known about available money, and the specific operational expenses.

District Five Supervisor Jaron Brandon stated, “I think we have to be very careful about the ongoing commitment and what this is going to cost. I think we’re very united (as a board) in that the worst-case scenario is that this moves forward, and catastrophically fails, or has some huge impacts on the local residents. Nobody here wants that.”

Board member Kathleen Haff noted, “I am not interested in spending a lot of county general fund money on this. I want to see this supported by the state funds and the grants that we get. I don’t want it to be at the expense of the other services that we provide to the community.”

The supervisors also collectively agreed that they want some sort of screening to ensure that offenders of violent crimes cannot use the shelter. Also, they want to make sure that it is only occupied by local Tuolumne County residents. Those items will be worked out over the coming months.

In addition, by a 3-2 narrow majority, the board directed staff to move forward with plans for a tent area at the same property where people dropped off after hours can stay. It would become operational at the same time as the Pallet Shelters, in the spring. It was noted that a reason for the tents is that existing law states that unless counties have a designated place for people to stay, law enforcement is prohibited from preventing them from sleeping in other spaces. It is the result of a high-profile court decision out of Boise, Idaho related to the rights of homeless residents. Supervisor Ryan Campbell referenced recent problems at Camp Hope. Supervisors Brandon and Haff were the two opposed to moving forward with the tent aspect, at least initially. Brandon noted that the idea of a tent camp had not been sold to the residents as part of the project. Board Chair Anaiah Kirk was the deciding vote in favor, citing the Boise case as the reason for his support. Kirk noted he is conflicted about it, and still wants to learn more about the specifics of the tents over the coming months. He indicated it is something he could change his opinion on later, depending upon what is eventually proposed.

The county has also released a new FAQ document related to the pallet shelter project, after around 250 people weighed in during an online county survey. You can read the document by clicking here.