A proposed amendment of the city’s zoning code that would allow trailers to be placed on church properties and used as affordable housing is scheduled to come back to the Planning Commission next month.
At Wednesday’s Planning Commission meeting, Planning Director David Reyes briefly discussed the proposal.
Church officials did not submit public comment before that meeting, but spoke to Pasadena Now on Thursday.
“If we’re talking about affordable housing on the campuses of our local churches, we also have to talk about other social services that will help people right along with the housing,” said Kerwin Manning, of Pasadena Church.
“Housing is one piece of the puzzle, but we’ve got to create jobs for the residents of our community and not outsource them. We definitely have to create jobs for minorities and give them the contracts that others come in and sweep away. Things like that. It’s a holistic approach. Housing is definitely a significant piece, but if there’s an expectation for the churches to provide the space, then there needs to be a commitment to the churches as well.”
The city received as many as 50 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) trailers were placed in the Rose Bowl parking lot at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In March, California Gov. Gavin Newsom said the state would use $50 million of a $150 Coronavirus emergency funding package to buy 1,309 travel trailers and deliver them to cities across the state as part of an “emergency protective measure.”
The money was also used to lease rooms in hotels, motels, and other facilities in partnership with counties and cities to provide immediate isolation placements throughout the state for homeless individuals.
The city is experiencing an affordable housing crisis, and rent remains among the highest in the state.
“A zoning code amendment is a big deal and I am concerned that we have been creating a patchwork of policies like this rather than looking at the City as a whole and what we want it to look like,” said Commissioner Felicia Williams, who will join the City Council later this year.
To change the code it would take one public hearing, an environmental review, which could take months and City Council approval.
“There are shorter term parking permits and policies that can address this, and, with proper community outreach, support services, and safety measures, may be a better solution,” Williams said.
On any given night more than 500 people in Pasadena are experiencing homelessness in Pasadena.
In January, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order allowing 100 former FEMA trailers for emergency shelter in cities with dire homelessness problems.
“I am very much in favor of any zoning changes that allow churches to leverage their property, to, help support folks experiencing homelessness,” said John Jay pastor at First Baptist Church. “So from what I know of this project, which is new information to me. Yeah. I think it’s a great move.”