SAN JOSE—On Nov. 22, 2016, the Santa Clara Valley Water District Board will consider three recommendations brought forth by the board’s Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee. The recommendations could help curb the growing impacts of homeless encampments on local waterways.
The first recommendation is to develop a process to offer the Santa Clara County Office of Supportive Housing the first chance to lease vacant residential rental properties owned by the water district. Since housing the homeless is the county office’s domain, that office would manage the rental process and address individual tenants’ needs.
The water district currently leases 53 residential properties. Most rental properties were acquired because the lands will be needed for future flood protection projects. Until those projects break ground, the water district typically leases them directly to individuals or families on a month-to-month basis.
The second committee recommendation is that certain water district-owned lands be declared surplus and then offered for sale or lease to other governmental agencies that may be able to utilize these lands for the development of permanent housing. Currently, seven water district parcels have been identified as potentially “surplus” because the water district no longer has an identified purpose for them. The parcels, totaling nearly 60 acres, are located within unincorporated areas, and in the cities of San Jose, Morgan Hill, and Gilroy.
Should the full board vote to declare these parcels as surplus, they will be offered for sale or lease to Santa Clara County, local cities or other government agencies that could use them to develop housing for low- or moderate-income residents.
The third recommendation is to direct $350,000 to partner with the City of San José to fund an extension of the innovative and successful Downtown Streets Team program to remove trash and debris at encampments along local waterways. The water district’s voter-approved Safe, Clean Water and Natural Flood Protection Program specifically designated approximately $8 million for the removal of trash and debris in waterways.
The committee voted to bring these recommendations to the full board at its Sept. 21, 2016 meeting (The committee’s meeting’s agenda package is available here). The full board will consider these recommendations at its Nov. 22 meeting (The agenda memo is available here).
The purpose of the Homeless Encampment Ad Hoc Committee is to discuss homelessness and encampment issues, and bring discussion and recommendations back to the full board. Director Richard P. Santos serves as the committee’s chairperson; Director Tony Estremera is the vice-chairperson; and Director John L. Varela is the third member of the committee.