Long Beach officials said they’re now looking to install a 33-unit tiny home village at a city-owned property near Willow Springs Park, but it might not open until 2025, further pushing back the already delayed shelter project.
The project includes individual prefabricated units that will include air conditioning, individual restrooms and fire-suppression systems with six of the units being a bit larger to accommodate people with disabilities, according to a memo the city released Thursday night.
The city had originally planned to construct the shelter in the parking lot of its Multi-Service Center on the Westside, where most of its homeless services are provided, but it was forced to find a new site because of a nearby rail project being built by the Port of Long Beach.
The city said in late September that the rail project would create too many quality-of-life issues for tiny-home residents because the facility is expected to run 24 hours a day with significant noise and emissions.
City officials originally anticipated the tiny homes would be open this October, but the new timeline could push that back until “early 2025,” according to the memo.
The new site, at the southeast corner of Spring Street and California Avenue, still needs to be approved by the state — which is funding construction — before any units are installed.
“While the City Team feels strongly that this is the best available location for this project, full implementation of the project will be dependent on the State’s review and final approval of the new site,” City Manager Tom Modica wrote in the memo.
The site at Spring and California includes an active oil well, but the city says that it doesn’t pose a risk to future residents.
“We’ve done testing of the site, and, at this time, the tests don’t demonstrate that there would be any impact from the existing oil well,” Assistant City Manager Linda Tatum said Friday.
Thursday’s memo said the site was chosen in part because the city already owns it, eliminating any potential purchase price for the land. The city received a $30.5 million state grant to help fund the tiny homes and the purchase of a motel that is being converted into a homeless shelter. That project is also behind schedule.
The new site is also close to bus stops, a grocery store, a hospital, a library, a shopping center and existing utilities the tiny homes will rely on, the memo notes.
Because the project is moving away from the Multi-Service Center, which has city staff on-site, Long Beach will now have to seek out a third-party provider to operate the site and provide things like case management, security, meals, transportation and laundry services, according to the memo.
Once the tiny homes are constructed, the grant agreement with the state calls for them to remain in place for 15 years. Modica’s memo said that after 15 years, the city intends to move the modular units to a new site — they’re rated for 50 years — and incorporate the parcel at Spring and California into Willow Springs Park.
The city will have to resubmit plans to the state and complete new designs for the project before moving forward, but Tatum said the city believes it meets the state’s criteria for the grant and expects the project will be approved.
“We feel very confident that this a very appropriate sight for the tiny homes, and we’re ready to move forward as soon as the state gives its approval,” Tatum said.