As part of the group of neighbors that opposed the men's cold weather shelter on Fourth Street because of its negative and criminal impact on our neighborhood and businesses, I'm shocked this is happening again just two blocks to the east. The City Council voted 7-1 to not financially support that program in that location because of its measurable criminal impact on our neighborhood.
When this discussion and opposition was happening at the Fourth Street location, we suggested very strongly to the city that zoning guidelines needed to be developed for low-barrier shelters. This difficult process pitting neighbor against neighbor would not be happening if that had been done. There are zoning requirements in many cities across the country, including Albany, that require a low-barrier shelter to be located in a light industrial-industrial zone. A low-barrier shelter has a negative criminal impact on its neighbors. This is an indisputable fact. The shelter staff can only control the behavior of this very difficult population in the shelter. It is unreasonable to think they can control their behavior in the surrounding neighborhoods.
The shelter staff can often be blinded by the passion and importance to them of their mission. We cannot rely on them to adhere to this guideline voluntarily. It is the city's responsibility to protect all residents and commercial businesses. Zoning guidelines should have been developed two years ago. This "discussion" pitting neighbor against neighbor should not be happening! Where was our city leadership the last two years?
Corvallis (July 11)