Antioch Council approves zoning change to allow for homeless hotel on split vote

The Executive Inn on E. 18th Street is proposed to be used for transitional housing for homeless. Herald file photo.

Torres-Walker supports in spite of pointing out “great concern” in her neighborhood

By Allen D. Payton

During their regular meeting on Tuesday, February 22, 2022, the Antioch City Council approved a transitional housing zoning overlay district on a 3-2 split vote for the Executive Inn on East 18th Street, moving forward a plan for the motel to be used for homeless residents. It allows the owner to apply for a use permit for the motel to be converted to a transitional housing facility. After first making a motion to approve the zoning change, Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock withdrew her motion and then along with Councilman Mike Barbanica, voted against it. Transitional Housing Zoning Overlay District ACC022222

Council Doesn’t Finalize Lease with Congressman McNerney

At the beginning of the meeting, City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith reported out of closed session that the negotiations with Congressman Jerry McNerney regarding the lease of office space in the Antioch Community Center at Prewett Family Park, “price and terms of payment, there was no reportable action.” The negotiations occurred following the attempt by Interim City Manager Con Johnson to evict the congressman whose lease runs through Jan. 3, 2023.  (See related article)

The blue outlined and highlighted area of the map shows the location of the transitional housing zoning overlay district specifically for the Executive Inn at 515 E. 18th Street. Source: City of Antioch

Transitional Housing Zoning Overlay District

Community Development Director Forrest Ebbs provided a brief overview of the transitional housing zone overlay district for only the Executive Inn at 515 E. 18th Street, which was proposed to be used for Antioch’s homeless residents during a press conference by then-Councilman Lamar Thorpe and then-Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts in July 2020. (See related article)

“This is about a zoning overlay,” Mayor Thorpe said, attempting to narrow the focus of the public hearing. “There will be plenty of time to discuss the actual use at the planning commission.

Andrew Becker was the only member of the public to speak.

“I don’t think that the director dove into transitional housing and the requirements for transitional housing,” he said. “I sent him and the council…the state’s definition of transitional housing in 2007 the state of California and passed legislation, that mandated that cities allow for transitional housing…holding those developments to the same standards. That’s a permanent by-right transaction.”

“If you look at page A3 in your packet…you will see residential uses,” Becker continued. “You will see at the bottom this new transitional housing overlay. You will see all of these residential areas…in all of those columns it doesn’t show a permitted use for transitional housing. Instead, it shows one restrictive use for transitional housing for all the City of Antioch…that isn’t even residentially zoned. It’s zoned hospitality. You’ve said developers can come in and build a permitted development. It would allow the review and could be shot down by the planning commission. I equate that to redlining.”

“The housing element must have the same standards as other residential zoning,” he continued. Becker proposed zoning the entire city for transitional housing.

Council Discussion and Vote

Torres-Walker asked Ebbs to respond to what Becker said

“We have a new housing element coming forward that will…be fully compliant with all state laws,” Ebbs explained.

“Should we be waiting for the housing element before moving forward on this?” Torres-Walker asked.

“It wouldn’t affect this zoning change,” Ebbs responded.

“It would provide for commercial zone for just this property?” Torres-Walker then asked.

“We can always come back” for other changes, Ebbs said.

Ogorchock asked, “What about the neighborhood and Rocketship school?”

“We’ve met with them,” Thorpe said. “The city manager and assistant city manager met with them.”

“The parent group was notified of this meeting,” said Assistant City Manager Rosanna Bayon Moore.

“There will be a use permit hearing before the planning commission,” Ebbs pointed out.

Ogorchock then moved approval of the creation of the transitional housing zoning overlay district. It was seconded by Monica Wilson.

Barbanica then said, “I know I’ve been at odds with several people on this. I believe, as I’ve stated all along…it is my belief that this is harmful to that area, to the businesses.”

“This is just an overlay on that property. It says we can do this if we choose,” Ogorchock pointed out.

“Without this that would be a dead issue, correct?” Barbanica asked Ebbs.

“That’s correct. They could not apply for a use permit at this location,” Ebbs said.

“We can’t keep kicking this can down the road. I believe this overlay is the right direction,” Wilson said. “This has been an issue for many years. It has to be addressed. We need to stop and pause. We listen to people online bully us. Let’s vote on this.”

“I’m going to support this, tonight,” Torres-Walker stated. “What makes me not want to vote for this is it should be citywide, not just one property. Spreading out the responsibility citywide just makes sense. Nobody up here lives in that community. But I do and there’s great concern.”

“I don’t believe the can has been kicked down the road,” Barbanica responded pointing out what the current council has done to assist the homeless, providing them motel vouchers and helping some get into the county’s Delta Landing facility at the former Motel 6 in Pittsburg.

“Mayor, I withdraw my motion,” Ogorchock then said.

Thorpe then asked Wilson if she withdrew her second, saying, “if you don’t withdraw your second then the motion stands.”

Wilson said she didn’t.

However, Attorney Smith corrected him saying, “She can withdraw her motion, but obviously someone else can make a new motion.”

Wilson then made the motion to approve the overlay district.

“I just want to say, for years we’ve said, ‘it’s the county’s responsibility’,” Thorpe said. “We took our time to do our homework. We recognized…the city is not an expert in social services. We also realized if we continue to rely on the county, we’re going to be going in circles.”

“The biggest concern is…when we move them from corner to corner this is no place for them to go,” he continued. “They aren’t randomly showing up. They have a connection to this community. Those are the challenges that we face.”

“We are committed to solve homelessness, not put a bandaid on it,” Thorpe continued. “It’s never been about limiting. It’s about doing something, and we have to start somewhere.”

The motion then passed 3-2 with Wilson, Torres-Walker and Thorpe in support.

the attachments to this post:

Transitional Housing Zoning Overlay District ACC022222

515 E. 18th St. Executive Inn site

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