OILDALE, Calif. (KGET) – Last month the Board of Supervisors took another step in the fight against homelessness, moving ahead with a possible 50-unit housing complex of so-called tiny homes on East Roberts Lane. On Tuesday, the board heard the blowback.
The proposed project has been called another tool in the county’s tool kit to deal with runaway homeless – 50 eight-foot-square prefabricated sleeping cabins with accompanying pre-fab service buildings.
The so-called Tiney Oaks supportive services village on East Roberts Lane – so named because someone in the process misspelled “tiny” with two n’s – would sit on nearly three acres situated squarely between the Rasmussen Senior Center and the Teen Challenge residential drug treatment facility for women.
Last month the Board of Supervisors directed staff to solicit bids for the project, with one bid to be awarded early next year. The county made its case in November, showing some examples of tiny home villages around the state. And there are many — including 63 in California developed by one manufacturer alone.
At Tuesday morning’s Board meeting, supervisors heard from opponents of the project, some of them with track records of supporting projects dealing with homelessness. Stephen Montgomery of the local area chapter of the Sierra Club was one such critic, addressing the Board in the public presentations portion of the meeting
“We consider that to be somewhat ill-considered for the location that it’s being sited at,” he said, “anticipating the behavior of the clientele that will be using that facility.”
Realtor Joseph Leon said his client sold the 2.89 acre property immediately north of the Kern River to the county with the understanding that the land would be used for a new county fire station, not a homeless village.
“When we entered into this agreement, we felt that this (fire station) was a very good user of the property, not only for the Rasmussen Center next door but for the community as a whole,” Leon said. But after learning it would actually be a homeless facility, the seller “tells me she would never, ever have signed the agreement had she known the purpose of this property.”
No one at the meeting disputed the need to address homelessness and neither did Wilma Comer, the homeowner who lives directly across East Roberts Lane from the property in question.
“I know everyone needs a home stay in, and if that would help them to better theirselves, I’m all for it,” she said, “but if they’re just gonna go in there and wreck it …”
The project will be funded with money from the American Rescue Plan Act, with no impact to Kern County’s General Fund.
That’s the same funding source the County used for its M Street Navigation Center – a homeless housing complex that County Chief Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop told the Board has created none of the problems members of the public expressed concern about at Tuesday’s meeting.