Milpitas residents group suing to stop permanent housing for homeless people

MILPITAS — Plans from Santa Clara County to convert a hotel in Milpitas into permanent supportive housing for people who are homeless are facing another possible roadblock, as a group of residents led in part by former longtime Mayor Jose Esteves have sued to try and stop the project.

In a Santa Clara County Superior Court filing last week, attorneys for a group called Voices of Milpitas LLC — which Esteves formed in October — filed a complaint against county housing officials and a nonprofit developer, Jamboree Housing, who are behind the project, as well as the state’s Housing and Community Development department.

The complaint makes a litany of claims, including that the project wastes taxpayer money, increases danger to residents, skips over due process, and violates the California Environmental Quality Act.

The group is asking the court for a temporary restraining order against the project, which could be decided by a judge on Monday. If granted, the restraining order could effectively kill the plans.

County officials say in order to proceed with the project — which was allocated $29.2 million in state emergency funding through Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Project Homekey Initiative — they need to close on the hotel sale by Nov. 18, or the money will be taken back by the state and offered to other similar projects.

The county’s attorney, James Williams, thinks the case is without merit, and said the litigation is simply an attempt to derail the project.

“The thing that’s disappointing here is we’re talking about a project that really is to serve a vulnerable population,” he said Friday in an interview. “We’re talking about a project that is sorely needed in the community and it’s really disappointing to see these kinds of tactics being used.”

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Under state legislation AB 83, which Newsom signed into law in June, pandemic housing projects for homeless people are permitted to jump over local planning processes, which has rankled residents of Milptias and other cities around the state.

“The legislature really granted an expedited process for this project, there’s urgency,” Williams said.

The plans call for spending $80 million to acquire the 146-room Extended Stay America Hotel on 1000 Hillview Court, and convert it into 132 studio apartments for homeless people, with supportive services on site.

The county was awarded $29.2 million through Homekey in September, and plans to pitch in $21.9 million from the 2016 Measure A bond for affordable housing. Jamboree would take on a roughly $30 million loan for the balance, officials said previously.

Esteves did not immediately respond to a request for comment on this story.

The complaint claims that because the project may not reserve any apartments for currently homeless people in Milpitas, it would result in “greatly increasing the homeless population in this area” and cause danger to other residents nearby, though it doesn’t specify how. It also claims property values could be lowered by the project.

The legal filing also parroted some concerns raised by Mayor Rich Tran in prior public meetings that people living at the converted hotel may have alcohol or drug addiction …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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