We were shocked and disturbed to read the article in the July 3 edition of your newspaper entitled, “Combating a Crisis.” I have so many questions, and have no idea who to ask for responses.
The article states that the County of Stanislaus will develop five permanent “supportive” housing units for those with “serious mental illness and are homeless or at risk to becoming homeless.” This site (Cemetery Avenue at Gold Strike Road in San Andreas) is directly across from San Andreas Elementary School. This work is estimated to begin in late September following final plan review by the county Planning Department. In addition, the County of Stanislaus is reported in your article to also be in the process of developing 20-25 low income housing units called “Foothill Terrace” directly behind San Andreas Elementary School, which is estimated to be completed by February 2020. Who decided that having these units within throwing distance of an elementary and high school was a good idea?
The area where these proposed projects are located already has many options for housing of low income and disabled people. Among them are: publicly funded apartments at Bear Mountain Apartments on California Street; the mental health facility next to the VFW in San Andreas; units on Gold Strike Road; Habitat for Humanity homes on Hope Court; Miller Court with several low-cost housing units; and Black Bart (Sierra) Inn, where people from the jail tend to loiter and stay.
Since the implementation of legislation that allowed the early release of prisoners from jail, people are now wandering from the jail to Turner Park (where I am now afraid to take my grandchildren to play because of crime, discarded syringes and drug use), through a dirt walkway along the creek to the Black Bart (Sierra) Inn. There have been many arrests for drug use, weapons, vandalism, theft and other more serious crimes in this area since the passage of the ”revolving door” legislation. Many in this neighborhood have already installed security systems because of the increase in criminal activity. Adding low-income housing for 25-30 families, including people with serious mental illness and homelessness, can only put more of burden than there already is on current residents.
The Enterprise article states that the “community as a whole” is working to address the diverse housing needs throughout the entire county with the ‘scattered site’ approach.” It goes on to say that “Scattered-site refers to the development of publicly funded, affordable housing units throughout diverse middle-class neighborhoods, rather than being concentrated in one neighborhood.” Despite the assertion that a “scattered-site” approach is used, the proposed housing projects are in an area of approximately one square mile, which includes homes in San Andreas’ historic district and all of the above mentioned low-cost housing units. These projects have the potential to not only make our neighborhood less safe, but will significantly affect the property values of historic homes that have been lovingly, and expensively, restored. There are, to my knowledge, no other areas of Calaveras County so heavily populated with low-income dwelling units than this approximately one square mile.
While I certainly understand that the need for low-cost housing is very important, I do not feel that one small neighborhood should bear the entire burden of low-income housing for the entire county. These projects will likely result in a further degradation of the safety, peace and tranquility of residents of this area. If a “scattered-site” approach is sought, why is one neighborhood alone in the county the site of all of these units?
Why was this done with so much stealth that no one who would be adversely affected was notified, nor was a public hearing, to my knowledge, ever had? How do we go about having our voices heard in this matter? It seems that this is a “done deal,” with absolutely no input sought, or given, by those who will be most affected.