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Homeless "Respite Center" Proposed by School Bike Route Receives Pushback

Picture3By Colin Walsh

An ad hoc group of Davis residents have started a Change.org petition opposing the location of the Homeless Respite Center. The new Homeless center is proposed for adjacent to the Dave Pelz Overpass near second street. Those opposing the location seem to clearly state that they support services for the homeless like this project, but not next to a thoroughfare for school children on bikes.

This Item was moved forward by the Davis City Council on July 30, 2019. The project would contain “tough shed” type buildings and likely a designated camping area. It is unclear if there will be water or sewer services or what staffing might be provided by the City.

In the staff report, "staff estimates that the day shelter could accommodate up to 40 individuals at one time and the overnight shelter could sleep up to 15 individuals" but with the addition of a camping area as suggested by council member Frerichs the site may be able to accommodate more.

When the Council addressed this issue on July 30th 2019, the staff omitted from their report and presentation to council that the Dave Pelz overcrossing was a safe route to school. There is no part of the staff report that addresses the impact of a homeless encampment on the bike and pedestrian through-way.

This is the table of advantages and disadvantages from the July 30, 2019 Davis City staff report:
Respite-Center-FTable 4.pdf
This very expensive overcrossing was built to better connect South Davis and East Davis, especially to provide a bikeable route to school for South Davis Junior High Kids.

The petition can be signed at  https://www.change.org/p/davis-city-council-no-homeless-shelter-for-schoolchildren-s-safety

The petition reads as follows:

Dear All City Council Members:

As residents in the City of Davis, we strongly object to the City’s proposal to build a homeless shelter at 3559 Second Street. This proposal has simply missed the serious concern on safety and security of our schoolchildren, the most vulnerable population.

The proposed location of homeless shelter lies directly underneath the Dave Pelz bike over-crossing, the only bike and pedestrian conduit that more than 200 schoolkids use to travel from South to two elementary schools and one junior high school in North. The influence of proposed homeless shelter cannot be physically and visually avoided by our schoolchildren. While it is understood that the issue of homeless persons needs to be addressed in every city, we believe that the safety of our schoolchildren outweighs the benefits of this proposed location.

In order for this shelter to operate in its proposed location, the City must comply with a ZERO tolerance policy in order to protect our schoolchildren’s safety, security and prevent undue influences on illicit behavior. If one incident of public indecency or drug proliferation or anything done with a child occurs, residents will demand the immediate and complete closure of the homeless shelter. And this would pale in comparison to the huge financial consequences and prolonged litigation for the City of Davis for any parent of said incident.

We request the City of Davis to please reconsider this shelter location as we believe the mitigation measures that are proposed are simply not enough as an assurance zero incidents must be observed because of the proximity of the shelter to so many of our schoolchildren.

This is the City of Davis Harper Safe Route to School Map with the location of the Homeless Respite Center indicated



This map shows the attendance map for Davis Junior High's demonstrating the large area of South Davis with Kids likely to use the Pelz overcrossing to get to school.

Attendence boundaries



Todd Edelman

"... very expensive overcrossing..." means what, exactly?

Colin Walsh

Todd, the overcrossing crosses the freeway, the railroad and 2nd street and has a long lead up to it on either side.

Ron O

It's not just kids using this overcrossing, nor is it limited to bicyclists. For example, it has also provided a walking path for those commuting to Sacramento, to access public transit stops located on the other side of the freeway.

Countless recreational bicyclists and pedestrians also use this overcrossing.

I cannot determine from the article if this has already been approved, or whether or not there will be another hearing regarding it.

Chuck Rairdan

South Davis has become a dumping ground for the City's poorly conceived projects. I've heard from a reliable source that South Davis is also slated for a halfway house containing high risk inmates. If anyone has more information about this, please share. All the more reason we need Distict elections for City Council. South Davis keeps getting crapped on and until those making these half-baked decisions are held accountable for such consequences that do directly affect them, it will continue.

Eric Gelber

“The influence of proposed homeless shelter cannot be physically and visually avoided by our schoolchildren.”

I find this petition sad. It’s hard to think of a more out-of-the-way location in the City. We apparently now demand that the homeless not only be kept away from business and residential areas but also located where they cannot even be seen by schoolchildren on their way to school from the heights of a bike and pedestrian overpass. Not in My Backyard has effectively become Not in My City.

Colin Walsh

this is not at all an "out of the way location" if you are one of the 200 or so kids that bike over the overpass everyday. This overpass is the best pedestrian connection to south Davis. It is also the only City of Davis designated safe route to school for all of the Harper kids that live in South Davis.

And all of the ways that this is a remote location are also reasons that it is a bad location. there are no services for the target population. It is not near stores. there is no public transportation.

Eric Gelber

A bike route does not become unsafe because it passes over, or within eyeshot of, a facility providing homeless services. Accessibility of services and public transportation is a legitimate consideration; but that’s not the issue raised by the petition.

Colin Walsh

Eric, previously you argued that it was an out of the way location. Now you are arguing that it is ok that it is not out of the way.

Eric Gelber

Colin - You misrepresent what I've said. The location is remote (e.g., from residential neighborhoods, shopping areas, downtown). I also said that its remoteness from services is a legitimate consideration—i.e., an argument for not locating it there. But, of course, locating it closer to neighborhoods and services will inevitably lead to additional NIMBY objections. So, there’s a balance to be drawn.

The petition here is not concerned with the inconvenience to those who will rely on this resource, however. The objection raised is that schoolchildren will have to ride on an overpass, well above it, or will be able to see it on their commute to and from school. I don’t view that as a sufficiently compelling concern warranting rejection of this site.

Colin Walsh

I object to you characterizing parents concerned with the safety of the bike path their kids use to get to school as NIMBYs. Parents have every right to lobby the city to assure their are safe routes to school. Besides name calling is hardly productive.

This overpass is the through way for kids getting to school. It is designated by the City of Davis as a Safe route to school. It is the choke point for hundreds of kids biking from south Davis to Harper Junior High.

The location of the respite center is not remote to the overpass. If you look at the City staff report you will see there is a short path that leads directly from the proposed respite center to the overpass. Kids have easy access to the respite center, and people at the respite center have easy access to the kids.
Will the kids want to bother people at the respite center? Maybe.
will the people want to bother the kids? Maybe
It is not an ideal situation.

Eric Gelber

NIMBY is a shorthand description of arguments against locating particular programs and services in designated areas. It’s not name-calling or labeling of those making the argument.

The underlying assumption here is that a “Safe Route” becomes unsafe because it passes by a program serving people who are homeless. I don’t accept that stereotypical generalization.

Ron O


I've heard (from more than one person) that the homeless encampments along the American River bike trail have also led to some conflicts.

Colin Walsh

Eric, NIMBY has come to be used as a put down for people who care about their community, as you have done here.
While you are right that it is not OK to stereo type homeless people, it is also not Ok to overlook the incompatibility of mixing junior high students and the homeless. I would also add that what is proposed is not a sober shelter like H street. What is proposed is a collection of tough sheds and a camping area that will take a housing first approach. Housing first means there is no requirement that the residents are sober or refrain from drug use.

Pam Gunnell

There are so many concerns I have about this project. The city seems to be trying to site a project before a having a concrete idea about what the project should be in the first place. What is the best way to help and remediate the homeless issue in Davis? We really need input from neighborhoods, law enforcement, mental health folks, businesses, and other small cities who have dealt with the issue. I think we need a broad focus group on this before we go forward.

Vero Baeza

South Davis, please help us in Davis Manor push back on the city this Tuesday 12/17 at 6:30, city hall. They will now be putting it across from 2 liquor stores and in a neighborhood that has struggled with blight and a troubled mini park. We have kids nearby at DaVinci, the N street Park playground, and Davis Community Garden. Yes, the need to help the homeless is there. But, this needs to be better thought out and not come at the expense of others. I also encourage those concerned to sign the following petition: http://chng.it/T27YbDTy

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