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Science Center Neighbors' letter

Unincorporated area residents of neighborhoods (Friends of Del Paso Park and Evergreen Estates) to the north and south of the old Science Center have sent this letter to the City of Sacramento, as well as their own elected  representatives. They are also trying to get this published in the Op/Ed section of the Sacramento Bee. Their letter has been posted on Nextdoor. It is reprinted here with their permission.

We strenuously object to the proposed homeless respite center being sited by the City of Sacramento at the old Powerhouse Space & Science Museum at 3615 Auburn Blvd. This is in the easternmost boundary of City of Sacramento's District 2- which is an odd narrow swath of land surrounded by the unincorporated county of Sacramento (District 1 and 3 represented by Supervisors Serna and Desmond). This site is directly adjacent to the Sacramento Childrens Receiving Home- who along with the community have rightly expressed concerns about this location. We believe the unincorporated county of Sacramento has sufficient resources and experience to handle any weather-related issues that might affect the homeless or other populations in our area and implore the city to focus their efforts in their OWN areas.

We earnestly request that the City Council immediately reconsider this project for the homeless and look for a Comprehensive Siting Plan (CSP) location that is NOT in a residential R-1 zone close to homes, parks, schools. Preferably in an area that is legitimately sited in the CITY of Sacramento vs. the “technicality” of a city location; this location in the district 2 “peninsula" is essentially siting a city project in unincorporated Sacramento County. (See map) 

Our community group is supportive of the city CSP having homeless shelters away from residential neighborhoods, parks and schools modeled after the proven “Haven for Hope” in San Antonio Texas. Campus style large sites include wraparound amenities, which locations in R1 zoning such as this Auburn Blvd site in our neighborhood and others spread throughout the districts cannot provide geographically or logistically. The crime, drug use, and trash that inevitably accompany makeshift homeless population encampments is what all of us countywide want to have cleaned up.

May contain: tree and plant
Del Paso Regional Park's neighbors and the City of Sacramento's park rangers have worked together to prevent trespassing in the park. The City's $3.4M 1-year service contract targets homeless campers within 1/8 mile of the old Science Center, though there aren't any homeless campers there.

For us in unincorporated Sacramento this can be handled by our County Sheriff, Park Rangers and local resources. We are dealing with the homeless situation in our area effectively on our own. Because of Del Paso Regional Park’s special “Natural Habitat” status there aren’t any homeless on city property for miles. Del Paso Park Rangers come out after we notify them and at times have made a felony arrest while removing the encampments that were illegally trespassing (Sac City Code 12.72.060 AA). If a city homeless project of any type (respite center or shelter) is sited at this spot, it will necessitate that the city’s homeless population be bussed or otherwise drawn to the Del Paso Park and into our residential neighborhoods- which we work hard to keep clean, pleasant and enjoyable - free from drugs and safe from crime.

We implore you to reconsider this current plan for a “weather dependent” homeless respite center at this city owned vacant building site.  Our community overwhelmingly would be in support of an educational facility to replace the former Science Museum- such as a Nature center and local history museum tied to the Del Paso Regional Park (similar to Effie Yeaw Nature Center), or another type of children's museum- (such as the children’s museum in Portland OR but on a smaller scale) that would enrich and serve the children’s receiving home residents and surr ounding community… something more consistent with the zoning and location of the building near a protected natural habitat and the vulnerable population of kids at the CRH. Repurposing it for a weather dependent respite center isn’t saving the city any money; this was initially proposed as a convenient site for the Mayor’s CSP- but since the approach and funding for that plan is ever changing, it would be more fiscally responsible to create an attraction that would provide a source of funding and create jobs…which a nature center or museum would do. Currently the city has entered into a very expensive contract that is grinding away every day without seeing a single client. This isn’t beneficial to the city or to any of the stakeholders involved.

Long term goals between the two entities are absolutely possible if we think critically and evaluate how decisions are evolving to where we are at now. Mayor Steinberg- listen to what Sacramento County thinks about the District 2 peninsula, the representation for the community surrounding the park- have the city manager and city staff work collaboratively with our county supervisors and staff to find an amicable solution better than this misguided respite center, which our county can provide in our area without your help or city funds. Let’s come together - unincorporated Sacramento and City Hall - to work together to find a solution that will benefit everyone.

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