Residents of neighborhoods (Friends of Del Paso Park and Evergreen Estates) in the unincorporated areas north and south of the old Science Center arranged for a community meeting on April 7th to provide some clarity about what the City of Sacramento is trying to do with the old Science Center on Auburn Blvd. They have given permission to publish this summary of the meeting.
For those of you that attended the meeting at the Sacramento Horsemen's Association on Thursday, April 7th, thank you for coming. The intention was to inform our neighborhood of what was happening with the Science Museum/Homeless Shelter and voice our concerns to elected officials who could give us answers. Unfortunately, although the City of Sacramento was given questions in advance, the representatives the city sent to our meeting were unprepared to answer most questions or give any indication of what direction we are headed- which felt unproductive when it came to addressing our concerns. The frustration in the audience took over and it became a session in which to vent. Thankfully, Supervisors Desmond and Serna were there to hear our concerns and are well aware of what our community is frustrated about.
What became lost in all of this was “where we are at”. So, what we do currently know, is what started out in November 2021 as a conversion of the city's Science Museum into a 24/7 Homeless Shelter, is today a weather event "Respite Center" that is only opened on certain days after it has been very hot or very cold/rainy for a period of time. This change is a direct result of the community's pushback and intervention by Supervisors Desmond and Serna.
A sponsored City of Sacramento ordinance will appear on the November ballot and if it passes would seem to disqualify the Science Museum from any type of Homeless Shelter/Respite Center or Emergency Shelter being that it's located in a park next to the Children's Recieving Home and close to a creek. The ballot measure language seems clear concerning “Buffer Zones”, but we have not been able to get any City Official to confirm.
The neighborhoods have also sent the City of Sacramento a letter (see related post), with a copy to The Bee for publication as an Op-ed.
Some take-aways from this:
- The City of Sacramento continues to talk a good game about its homelessness problems, with considerable effort given to "solve" the problems by using the far edges of the City across the street from our unincorporated community,
- The City of Sacramento's "plan of action" for the old Science Center turned out to be a poorly-thought-out $3.4M 1-year service contract (expiring Oct 2022) for a non-profit entity t0 serve unhoused people on an ongoing basis at the old Science Center, where there aren't - and won't be - any unhoused people to serve on an ongoing basis,
- The City of Sacramento has spent around $100,000 for capital improvements to the building for homeless shelter purposes, including offices for the non-profit entity to serve the customers that would have been, are not at, and won't be on site,
- The old Science Center might be used as a temporary Respite Center for a few days if the weather is horrible,
- Or, after next November, it might not - because of its inappropriate location, and
- The extension of the City of Sacramento's territory east of Watt and between the freeways and Auburn Blvd. has outlived its usefulness for the City. It has become an isolated area, a forgotten "island". It was a nice try for the City of Sacramento to have Renfree Field there for a few years, to preserve some natural areas valued by nearby residents, and to garner some developer money and property taxes from the commercial property at Auburn and Winding. But the freeway stub to Auburn Blvd was more of a whimper than a bang, the City didn't have the funds to run the ball field properly and the City continues to spend money operating a park most people in the City of Sacramento don't know about. These days, it might make sense to de-annex the land, with the park either re-assigned to the Arcade Creek Rec and Park District or to the County.