Homeless Task Force doubts creating Alternative Sleeping Location in Malibu

Discussions included locations for the proposed project; commercial or residential area

The Alternative Sleeping Locations (ASL) item was continued from the Jan. 18 meeting to the Feb. 1 meeting last week, and the Homeless Task Force members proposed to create the facility outside of Malibu.

Public speaker and longtime community volunteer Kay Gabbard said they’re concerned about being accepted in the community where they’re going to purchase a facility.

“My past experience with the cities who do that has not been positive, so I hope that while we are putting this together, we’re also in contact with some of the cities that we are thinking about setting up to make sure that we are welcomed to do that,” Gabbard said. “I assume that there has to be something in it for them in order for them to accept us.” 

Gabbard also mentioned the terminology used in the agenda describing a homeless individual and what is not fair for them to do, such as resist mental health.

“I’m in total agreement with you; however, the definition of mental illness is a condition which causes serious disorder in a person’s behavior or thinking,” Gabbard said, “I would ask that you rethink that paragraph.” 

Taskforce members discussed where the proposed project would be implemented, in a commercial or residential area. Member Wayne Cohen said drug rehabs have zonings also.

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“There is a legislative framework for domestic shelters in other areas, but there’s zoning that applies,” Wayne said. “Sober living homes do have a statutory right to occupy real estate. It’s different; they have an actual right, they don’t have a license, but they still have a statutory right that’s created.”

Taskforce member Kelly Pessis said this proposed project would fall into the same criteria.

Taskforce member Scott Dittrich said he had visited the Baldwin Park Tiny Homes, “pods”—as he called them—and said the location provides individuals with a sleeping area, services, resources, and sober living.

“That’s one of our problems in Malibu; we’re so isolated where do we provide any service,” Dittrich said. “If we move our ASL into a different city, we get one set of problems, we can no longer rely on our community, our churches to feed people, and you know what will happen if you put it here, I don’t know where you would put it for one thing, but maybe somebody will come up with something.”

Dittrich said the option to move the ASL to an area such as Woodland Hills, the city would receive negative feedback.

“They won’t be happy to see that, even if it’s sober living, we’ll catch so much flack on that, and yet if we try to put one here, you’re going to put it on the pier? I don’t know,” Dittrich said. “On one hand, it was really great to see these little pod pallet housing of what was possible; on the other hand, I don’t know where to put it yet, so If anyone has any brilliant ideas.”

Member William Winokur said the comments, ideas, and concerns have begun to raise doubt among the members.

“It’s very challenging sometimes to keep this thing going in a direction because there are so many viewpoints and opinions, and frankly, within ourselves, one week I hear somebody giving one viewpoint, and in the next meeting I hear them expressing doubt or confusion,” Winokur said. “So it’s not an easy task to be your humble scribe.”

Winokur asked if the proposal would be a practical solution.

“Something tells me that most people in this community would not think that was a good thing, not morally, ethically right,… I think it would open the door to a lot of challenges, to litigation, even if we could prevail, again I would see if the task force as a whole thinks it is a really good idea,” Winokur said. “If the majority of my colleagues feel like that is a really good idea, well then by all means that will go in as an option in our report.”

Pessis said there has been a misunderstanding in regards to location and hopes they can clear the confusion. 

After different opinions, ideas, and rebuttals, task force member Terry Davis said to continue with creating the ASL in a different location but close enough to Malibu.

“We have to face the challenges of taking our perceived homeless from Malibu to another place,” Davis said. “While we pursue setting up a situation, a contractual relationship with a city outside of Malibu, as close as we can get because of what has been said, the majority of the task force believes creating an ASL in Malibu is not an option at this time, to me from what everyone is saying, that’s a dead end.”

Dittrich motioned to approve the current language to the revisions proposed by Davis on item C.i ASL vs. Housing. 

Public Safety Manager Susan Dueñas said in order for a project to be explored outside the city; she recommends reaching out to other cities to find a partner in the jurisdiction they decide. 

“I think it’s very critical that we don’t do this behind the back of another jurisdiction,” Dueñas said. “That we are absolutely transparent with our city partners that we’re trying to find a location and avoid any political disaster.”

After items on the agenda were re-worded for clarity, Dittrich said they would like public input for the location of the ASL facility for the next meeting.

Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo
Samantha Bravo is an inspiring photojournalist based in Los Angeles California. She began her journalism career at Pierce College Media Arts Department. Twitter @samanthavbravo

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