Feb. 6, 2023 — Visalia City Council

Documented by Jackie Schuster

At the Feb. 6 Visalia City Council meeting, the council directed staff to not pursue state and federal funding for a permanent location of an overnight, emergency drop-in homeless shelter.

What happened: At the Feb. 6 Visalia City Council meeting, councilmembers approved 12 items on the consent calendar, including replacing three police services dogs for $83,300 and appropriating $1.7 million for Phase VI of the Riverway Sports Park development.

Councilmembers also authorized staff to seek state and federal funding for water recharge basins, Goshen Trail enhancements, and safety barricades, but voted for staff to not pursue funding for a permanent location for an overnight emergency drop-in homeless shelter, at this time.

Shelter concerns: Councilmember Steve Nelsen said he would like to see a report on the current warming center population before supporting funding for the shelter.

Several of the other councilmembers echoed his sentiment, while Councilmember Emmanuel Hernandez Soto encouraged the council to volunteer at the warming center to get first-hand experience and ask questions there.

Vice Mayor Brett Taylor said that in his two years of serving on the council they have approved funding for three transitional housing programs and one low-barrier shelter.

“I would definitely like to see how these projects turn out first, since none of them are actually operational, before we move on to additional funding,” Taylor said.

Mayor Brian Poochigan said he felt like this was rushed and he would like to examine other locations and know which organization would be involved in running the shelter first.

Councilmember Liz Wynn asked if this is “special earmarked funding from the state.” City Manager Leslie Caviglia said that this item is to direct legislative representatives to request state, federal and additional grant funding, if available.

“To continually throw money at a problem, that is failure at best, I have a problem with,” Nelsen said. “I don’t have a problem going after homeless money if it’s a navigation center, if it’s transitional housing, if it’s a program that actually addresses the needs of the homeless person.”

Up next: The next Visalia City Council meeting will be held on Feb. 21 at 7:00 p.m. 

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The Fresno Documenters are a group of local residents who are trained and paid to attend and take notes at local public meetings where officials decide how to spend public money and make important decisions...