By T.A. Hendrickson
The plan to build small, prefabricated shelter units for the homeless in the Eagle Rock Rec Center overflow parking lot on N. Figueroa Street will come before the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners on Thursday, June 17.
The five-member Board is expected to approve the plan, championed by CD 14 Councilmember Kevin de León and passed by the full Los Angeles City Council on March 17. Approval by the Board commissioners will pave the way for construction of the units, also known as “pallet shelters” or “tiny homes,” with occupancy likely in the fall.
The plan for Eagle Rock calls for 48 pallet shelters, most of them measuring 8’ x 8’, according to the report prepared for the Board commissioners by the parks department staff. Maximum occupancy would be 93 homeless individuals, though actual occupancy could be much less, assuming that units capable of sleeping two people would likely be occupied by only one person at a time.
The site will also include mobile shower and lavatory facilities and pallet units for administrative offices, a laundry station, a security station and food storage. There will also be an outdoor seating area, including an eating area with picnic tables, fencing, umbrellas for shade and drinking fountains.
Parking for the people who work at the pallet shelter site will be within the lot itself. Southern California Edison (SCE), which owns the part of the lot that has power lines overhead, has licensed the use of a portion of its property to the city for vehicular parking, according to Ron Gales, a spokesperson for SCE.
The Eagle Rock pallet shelter community will be the fifth such site approved by the Board on park property in L.A. in the past year.
Most recently, on April 15, the Board approved construction and operation of a 115-unit tiny-home village in Highland Park, to be located on an unused portion of Arroyo Seco Drive next to the 110 Freeway, within the boundaries of Hermon Park (also known as Arroyo Seco Park).
Pallet shelter sites, approved for up to three years by the park Board commissioners, are intended as temporary bridge housing for the homeless as they access on-site social services and other assistance to help secure permanent housing. The sites in Eagle Rock and Highland Park will be operated by experienced nonprofit homeless service providers: Union Station Homeless Services is set to run the site in Eagle Rock and Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission will run the site in Highland Park
The establishment of pallet shelter communities in Eagle Rock and Highland Park, both in CD 14, is one part of a far-reaching plan put forward by Councilmember De León to combat homelessness in L.A.
In addition to support by the City Council and the staff of the city’s parks department, the plan for local pallet communities has support from the neighborhood councils in Eagle Rock and Highland Park, as well as from advocates for the homeless. Recent legal rulings on the emergency nature of the homelessness crisis in L.A., summarized in the park staff report, have also underscored the need for more shelter for the homeless.
Opposition to the plan for local pallet shelters has come mainly from residents of Eagle Rock, where the location of the shelters is more visible and closer to park users than in Highland Park.
The agenda for the meeting on June 17 of the Board of Recreation and Parks Commissioners is here. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. Anyone wishing to address the commission must dial 669-900-6833 and enter 811 4941 5559 and then press #. Instructions on how to sign up for public comment will be given to listeners at the start of the meeting. Each speaker will be granted a maximum of two minutes.
Local advocates for the homeless have been told that CD 14 will hold community meetings to answer questions from stakeholders about the pallet communities, on June 23 for questions on the Highland Park site and June 28 for questions on the Eagle Rock site. Confirmation of the meeting and details on how to attend were not available as of this posting, but the Boulevard Sentinel will post such details as soon as they are confirmed.
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Bill Hendrickson, MBA, publisher of the Boulevard Sentinel, has extensive small business management, marketing and sales experience in corporate finance and real estate development and plays a not terrible game of golf.