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North County Report: Homeless Service Providers Look for Local Funds

The Oceanside stadium plan faces some challenges, Del Mar, Escondido and Poway weigh new projects and more in our weekly roundup of news from North County.

Photo courtesy of Solutions for Change

After refusing to change its operating model to conform with federal policies, homeless services provider Solutions for Change faced a $600,000 annual budget shortfall.

At the center of the issue is Solutions for Change’s decision to not participate in the regional system to address homelessness, which receives funding from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development and requires providers follow the “housing first” model.

Housing first says the best way to help the homeless is to get them a stable, permanent living situation, and not require that clients meet certain conditions before receiving help.

The group’s founder, Chris Megison calls that a “dependency model,” and describes his organization’s model as a “free market social enterprise.”

Recently, Solutions turned to five North County cities to help meet its budget, asking for $140,000 from each, for two years. Oceanside, Carlsbad and Escondido declined – either because they didn’t have the money, or because they have already spent their budgets on other service providers. Only Vista and San Marcos agreed to pay, the Union-Tribune reports.

Because those funds can’t come from federal dollars, they come from fees paid by developers to each city.

San Marcos originally committed $20,000 to Solutions for Change, but upped the amount to $126,000 after its request – about half of what the city budgeted for affordable housing for the year.

Vista will also give about half its budget to Solutions for Change, and the decision to give money from its affordable housing fund got at least one other homeless services provider wondering if it too can get some help. The U-T reports that Operation Hope is asking for $100,000, which would just about empty the city’s account.

Like Solutions for Change, Operation Hope also touts its alcohol-free environment for families, making it ineligible for federal funds.

The U-T reports Vista Councilwoman Amanda Rigby cast the only vote against giving money to Solutions for Change because she didn’t find the idea of giving money to a charity very “palatable.”

Operation Hope has at least one card up its sleeve – former Mayor Morris Vance, who sits on the group’s board of directors.

Oceanside’s Own Stadium Deal

News broke last week that Oceanside is slated be the home for a 10,000-seat soccer stadium and 1904 FL, a team in the North American Soccer League.

The stadium will be sited in the city’s El Corazon Park, supplementing the existing sports complex of 22 fields, and is expected to cost $15 million to build. While it’s being hailed as a big win for Oceanside, the stadium also faces significant challenges.

For one, NASL might not even exist in 2018. The league is suing U.S. Soccer, which recently dropped NASL from its second-tier status. The league says that threatens its future, the U-T reports, because who wants to invest in a third-rate soccer league?

Beyond the drama in the soccer world, development at El Corazon is managed by Sudberry Properties, which has an agreement with the city to develop nearly 100 acres in a pretty specific way, in order for the city to build a public park and conservation land in the remaining 365 acres.

The park’s plan calls for commercial and residential development, and a hotel, to pay for the construction of the public park. In 2015, residents persuaded the city to pursue an aquatics center, similar to Carlsbad’s Alga Norte.

Friends of El Corazon, a group that helped form that plan and provides oversight of the park, says it is “cautiously optimistic” about the stadium plans.

Also in the News

• Carlsbad will begin construction on its beach access points. (The Coast News)

• The Del Mar Planning Commission chose the least-dense version of the Watermark project to move forward. Unlike the 48-unit version, which provided seven affordable units, the 38-unit plan only provides three, as the city tries to build its affordable housing inventory. (Del Mar Times)

• Encinitas was once awash in potential maps for district elections, but the City Council has winnowed the number to two. (The Coast News, Union-Tribune)

• Escondido is expected to weigh in on the controversial Safari Highlands Ranch early next year. (Union-Tribune)

• Meanwhile, voters in Poway will decide the fate of housing at the StoneRidge Golf Course. (KPBS)

• KPBS dives into the lawsuit that seeks to stop lawsuits under the California Voting Rights Act that force cities to switch to district elections.

• SDG&E recovered $12 million from manufacturers of faulty equipment that led to the closure of San Onofre, but ratepayers will only see $400,000 split 1.4 million ways. (Union-Tribune)

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