STOCKTON, Calif. — A plan to open a Homekey project shelter near a high-profile Stockton intersection is receiving pushback from members of the public and elected officials nearly a month after it was passed unanimously by the Stockton City Council.
Dec. 14, Stockton city council members voted 7 to 0 to apply for Homekey project funding to convert a Motel 6 near March Lane and Interstate 5 into housing for chronically homeless and homeless youth.
The plan allocated $6.05 million in city funding to convert the 121 room motel into 68 one-bedroom apartments for "extremely low-income households" and homeless youth.
During a meeting in August, the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors also voted unanimously to allocate $10 million in American Rescue Plan funding to go towards the Homekey project proposal.
Months later, at their December meeting, Stockton City Council members voted to approve the plan and allocated funding while ordering the city manager to apply for Homekey project funding from the state to cover the extra $9,350,000 deemed necessary to convert the motel.
Just over a month after the plan was approved, City Council Member Paul Canepa has opened up saying he no longer thinks the project is the best idea for the site.
"The concern of mine was just about optics and whether or not this was vetted well enough, publicly," Canepa said. "The council voted seven to zero, but there are just some variables that I think that people in the community need to know and have input in. And that's why I kind of want to take a second look at it."
Variables that Canepa says include the amount of tax revenue generated by the hotel and the high-profile nature of the site along a major thoroughfare.
Canpea is not alone in his concerns. Following Canepa's Jan. 17 Facebook post calling for an immediate pause on the project, San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti added a discussion item about the project to the Board of Supervisor's meeting Tuesday.
"I was under the impression that something would be coming back to us for approval," Patti said on the board's previous vote, during Tuesday's meeting. "I was thinking this would happen with much more oversight."
Patti says he is hoping the city will take another look at the plan before any money is officially used.
"This city decision affects my region of the county and that is something I am hearing from people repetitively on this issue, they just found out about," Patti said. "I'm very concerned on the direction with where this is going."
Several other people took to social media after learning about the proposal to express concern over the project and its location at a high-profile intersection just blocks away from the Brookside community, one of the city's most aristocratic neighborhoods, according to household income data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Opponents of the project are skeptical about the amount of money the city and county are offering to buy the hotel. Patti, Canepa, and others say more research should be done into the amount of tax revenue the current hotel provides to the city and the process should be more transparent to the public.
With the plans already approved by both the Stockton City Council and San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors, it is unclear if any additional action can be taken. Tuesday's Board of Supervisors agenda item on the project was listed for discussion only.
Canepa says the unanimous vote by the council to approve the plan was out of excitement and has called for an immediate pause on the project until more community meetings can be held.
"I'd rather get more input from the people who actually provide the tax dollar that we use, and make sure that it's not deemed as a 'Hey, they're trying to sneak this one in.'" Canepa said.
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