SAFE PARKING-SAFE SHELTER PILOT PROGRAM
The Pilot Program is intended to reduce barriers to shelter development in unincorporated areas of the County, so that people experiencing homelessness can access immediate shelter. Designated shelters can mitigate environmental damage and health and safety effects related to gathering of unhoused people without adequate services. The Pilot Program does not identify safe parking or safe shelter sites, but rather sets site criteria, operating standards, and a permit process that facilitates development.
Last updated August 9, 2022.
Humboldt County Planning proposes adding a Safe Parking – Safe Shelter Pilot Program that will run for 18 months on public or private land. The Pilot Program would provide safe, temporary shelter sites that accommodate vehicles, tents, cabins, or other approved structures for people who are experiencing homelessness while they seek permanent housing.
The sites may be run by government entities, non-profits, or religious organizations, along with businesses or community organizations. At a minimum, all sites would have toilet and hand-washing facilities, access to showers, trash collection, and on-site security for participants, and would follow a written management plan developed in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services. The type and number of vehicles or shelters, the participants’ length of stay, hours of site operation, and level of services provided depend on the Provider’s choice of management plan.
Pilot Program Ordinances
The documents below were adopted at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. The Inland ordinance became effective on July 7, 2022. The Coastal ordinance will become effective upon certification by the California Coastal Commission.
Model Management Plans
In accord with State Housing Law limits, and to incentivize low-cost facilities, the Pilot Program offers templates for three Management Plans, a sample Plot Plan, and a sample Host & Participant Agreement. Providers are strongly encouraged to follow one of the three Model Management Plans developed in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services.
The three model management plans in the Pilot Program are the Minimal Requirements Plan, the Village Plan, and the Low Barrier Plan (see the three links to PDFs below). The Minimal Requirements and the Village Plan are intended to be less expensive, for areas where services and resources are harder to assemble. These plans incorporate less regulation and are intended for providers that rely on private or combination funding. A third model (the Low Barrier Plan) allows for more service-intensive programs with higher levels of case management and staffing.
All three model plans encourage allowing for pets, partners and possessions, but only the Low Barrier Model requires these provisions.
See this PDF for a comparison of the three Model Management Plans.
For sites that allow tents, cabins and non-vehicle shelters, Non-Vehicle Shelter Standards are provided in an appendix to the management plans. The standards reference Appendix X of the California Residential Code, and Appendix O of the California Building Code, both linked below.
Sample Safe Parking-Safe Shelter Plot Plan
A Plot Plan showing the proposed Pilot site is to be submitted with an application for a Zoning Clearance Certificate. This Sample Plot Plan is an example of the elements that should be represented.
Who Can Host a Safe Parking – Safe Shelter Site?
Under this Pilot Program, a government agency, religious entity, or non-profit organization (the Provider) may operate a Safe Parking – Safe Shelter site.
What is Required?
- A Provider that is a government agency, religious entity, or non-profit organization;
- A parcel of land, owned or leased, that is properly zoned as specified in the ordinance, or the site of an existing church in other zones (except TPZ, and Special Permit required), and that meets site criteria in the ordinance;
- A zoning clearance certificate (see Frequently Asked Questions for information on how to obtain this);
- A way to provide ongoing toilet and hand-washing facilities, trash collection, and on-site security for participants;
- The Provider must meet the operating standards and requirements in the ordinance;
- A written management plan; three Model Management Plans developed in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services are available.
See a Comparison of the Three Model Management Plans
Click Here to compare the Minimum Requirements Plan, Village Model Plan, and Low Barrier Model Plan.
Most successful programs depend on all kinds of support from neighbors, community groups, businesses, and non-profits who participate by donating land, services, and supplies by partnering with site Providers. Ways to participate include:
- Be a good neighbor.
- Host a site.
- Donate land or financial support.
- Volunteer to build shelters.
- Participate as a trained volunteer.
- Coordinate with the host and/or service providers by finding out what they need, then participate in the pilot’s operation.
What Kinds of Vehicles and Shelters are Allowed?
- At a Safe Parking site, up to 20 operating vehicles, vans, or RVs (15 for the Village Model).
- At a Safe Shelter site, up to 20 tents, huts, or cabins that meet Non-Vehicle Shelter Standards (basically, the California Building Code Emergency Housing standards, Appendix X and Appendix O). The limit is 15 units for the Village Model Management Plan.
- Providers set the types of vehicles or shelters allowed based on their site conditions, location, staffing and resources.
Safe Parking – Safe Shelter Pilot Program
FAQs for Potential Providers and the Public
What is Safe Parking and Safe Shelter?
A program that would provide safe, temporary shelter sites that accommodate vehicles (Safe Parking), or tents, cabins, or other approved structures (Safe Shelter) for people who are experiencing homelessness while they seek permanent housing.
Who can operate a Safe Parking or Safe Shelter pilot?
Under this Pilot Program, a government agency, religious entity, or non-profit organization (the Provider) may operate a Safe Parking–Safe Shelter site. Any organization or private party may contribute, lease their land, or otherwise partner with the Provider for services.
How are Safe Parking Safe shelter pilot programs funded?
Pilot programs may be funded by private funding, philanthropy, or in some cases, government grants. To learn more about potential upcoming government grant opportunities, contact the Humboldt Housing and Homeless Coalition.
Where is a Pilot site allowed?
In inland areas, a Safe Parking or Safe Shelter site may be permitted on parcels zoned ML – Limited Industrial, C-1 – Neighborhood Commercial, C-2 – Community Commercial, C-3 – Industrial Commercial, MU-1 – Mixed Use (Urban), MU-2 – Mixed Use (Rural), or R-3 – Residential Multiple Family. AG - Agriculture General parcels near essential services may be eligible.
How do I find the zoning for my parcel?
Go to the County’s desktop webGIS, or mobile webGIS application and type your 9-digit Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) or address in the search box at upper left. Click inside the parcel boundary and scroll down to the field Zoning with Combining Zones which will show the zoning designation. For more information about the zones, click on the abbreviation and go to the Principal Zones tables in Chapter 3, Coastal or Chapter 4, lnland.
What services are required at the site?
The site must have sanitary facilities including toilet and hand-washing; shower facilities or access to showers; garbage containers and trash disposal services; access to a telephone for use by participants; access to charging equipment for devices; and secure storage for personal items.
Can the Pilot sites be on public land or private land?
Either public or private land may be used. Sites that are owned or leased by a public entity have significant operational advantages, like immunity from certain types of liability, suspension of CEQA, and suspension of certain laws and regulations.
Is there a limit on how many sites are allowed in the County?
The Pilot Program allows for a total of ten sites countywide.
How long will the Pilot Program operate?
The Pilot Program runs for 18 months from the time it became effective. That is July 7, 2022 for the Inland Program, and the date of certification for the Coastal Program.
What happens at the end of the Pilot Program, after eighteen months?
The Board of Supervisors may choose to extend specific zoning clearance certificates for operating sites. Otherwise, the Program expires.
When will Provider’s staff be present at the sites?
Staff must be present during all open hours.
Who enforces the Management Plan?
The County may enforce the Management Plan, which must be up to date and on file with the Planning Department.
How long can people stay at the Pilot sites?
Six months. Some Pilot types allow the Provider to extend a participant’s term after review.
Why can’t the shelters be permanent?
The Safe Parking-Safe Shelter Pilot is designed under the state’s Emergency Shelter law, which is defined as temporary shelter.
What about RVs?
The Provider determines whether the site can allow RVs based on site factors, the level of service provided, staffing, and the organization’s resources. If allowed, RVs must be operational (able to drive on and off the site under their own power).
Will the Safe Parking-Safe Shelter Sites have ADA access?
How are complaints handled?
The Provider designates a contact person, and maintains a neighborhood outreach plan with periodic meetings. Complaints are reported to the County monthly.
Can Safe Parking or Safe Shelter sites be on private land?
Yes, anyone can provide land for a Safe Parking or Safe Shelter site if it meet site requirements. However, the Provider must be a government agency, religious entity, or non-profit organization.
If my site is correctly zoned, how do I get a zoning clearance certificate?
Apply for a zoning clearance certificate with the Planning Department. You will need:
- A Plot Plan of the site.
- A written management plan; three Model Management Plans are available through Planning and Building.
- A Department Approval Letter from the Division of Environmental Health verifying an approved method of providing sanitation to the site.
- Review and meet the operating standards and requirements in the Pilot ordinance.
Where do I get a Department Approval Letter from the Division of Environmental Health?
You can use the Request for Service Form from the Division’s Documents and Forms page. Download this PDF of the “Request for Service” form to request an approval letter. On the form, check “other” and insert “Approval letter”. For more information see their website at: https://humboldtgov.org/730/Land-UseProgram-Documents-and-Forms
What is in the Plot Plan?
An example Plot Plan is available at the Planning Department and on the website (Safe Parking-Safe Shelter Plot Plan). The Plot Plan for a proposed site should contain all the elements that apply to that site. For example, if there is no stream, skip the stream buffer element. Pages 2-5 of that document list general site requirements and requirements for each of the three management plans.
What is Housing First?
Housing First is a philosophy and an evidence-based State mandate that prioritizes providing permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness, and includes best practices like making services voluntary; harm reduction philosophy; no withholding of services for sobriety, substance addiction, or lack of money; and low barrier strategies like accommodating pets, partners, and possessions. Even though Safe Parking and Safe Shelter are temporary solutions intended to meet the immediate needs when permanent housing is unavailable, services can still be provided using these best practices.
If a Safe Parking Pilot Program is accepting no government funding, must they abide by Housing First?
No, but the Housing First best practices are still encouraged because they have been shown to be most effective in helping people toward permanent housing. Some government funding sources may require it.”
How is Safe Parking – Safe Shelter different from traditional shelters?
Traditional emergency shelters serve those experiencing homelessness in buildings rather than in vehicles or temporary shelter units.
Who makes the Management Plan?
Providers make the Management Plan using one of the three Model Plans available through the Planning Department and on the website.
What are the Management Plan types and how are they different?
The three Management Plans are The Low Barrier Model, Village Model, and Minimal Requirements Model. Try this pdf that compares the three plans.
Can a Safe Parking or Safe Shelter Pilot lose its zoning clearance permit?
Yes. Revocation could occur if a Pilot site is not in compliance with laws or the objective standards of the Pilot ordinance; or if a program poses harm to the health and safety of its participants or the community, or to coastal resources; or if it constitutes a nuisance as defined in Section 351-3 of the Humboldt County Code.
Are Safe Parking or Safe Shelter sites allowed on parcels zoned AG (general agriculture)?
Safe Parking and Safe Shelter can be permitted on an AG parcel located within one mile of services needed for sustainable living.
How are participants selected for the Pilot sites?
The Management Plans include a written procedure for participant intake and selection, a written participant agreement, and procedures for periodic reviews, extensions, and removals.
Can parking lots or unpaved areas be Pilot sites?
Yes, either, if all the site requirements and development standards are met.
Can existing buildings be used as Safe Parking or Safe Shelter sites?
Existing buildings used as emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness would be Emergency Shelters under the County’s code. Safe Parking and Safe Shelter encompass sheltering in vehicles, tents, or other temporary shelter types.
I have more questions. Who can I contact?
For more information on Safe Parking – Safe Shelter, you can call or email Humboldt County Planning and Building at firstname.lastname@example.org or (707) 445-7541. For further information contact Mary Milner, Planner at email@example.com or (707) 268-3772.
Shelter Crisis Ordinance
Although the Shelter Crisis Ordinance is not part of the Housing Element, it was adopted by the Board of Supervisors on June 7, 2022 along with Safe Parking-Safe Shelter Pilot Program because of its related impacts.
The documents below may be downloaded as PDFs.
The Shelter Crisis Ordinance operates during a shelter crisis, and ensures minimal public health and safety for occupants of non-vehicle emergency housing at emergency shelter sites. The emergency housing standards referenced in the ordinance reduce development restrictions for emergency shelter sites on county, city, or county and city-owned land.
Amendments in 2020 through AB 2553 also require that homeless shelters developed under a shelter crisis declaration comply with, at minimum, the Emergency Housing Standards in Appendix O of the California Building Code, and Appendix X of the California Residential Code. These two appendices are incorporated by reference into the Humboldt County Building Code.
Last updated August 4, 2022.
ARCHIVE - Draft Safe Parking - Safe Shelter Documents
The draft documents below may be downloaded as pdfs; they were discussed and adopted at the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors Meeting on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. Drafts were recommended for adoption at the Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, March 17, 2022. The final ordinances incorporate minor changes to the documents below.
Updated August 3, 2022.
Staff Report and Analysis
Proposed Model Management Plans and Standards
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