San Mateo County on Tuesday moved forward with the purchase of the Coastside Inn, a Half Moon Bay motel to be used as interim housing for people who are homeless.
County supervisors voted to purchase the property at 230 Cabrillo Highway South in Half Moon Bay for $8 million.
With the 5-0 vote, the board declared its intention to purchase the property, execute the necessary agreements and allocate over $8 million in funding to cover the purchase plus closing costs. Funding comes from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds.
The county would prioritize local people for the shelter and would work with an operator – such as a nonprofit organization – to provide services. The long-term goal of the project would be to transition people from interim to permanent housing, and the motel may even become affordable housing in the future.
During the board meeting Tuesday, Half Moon Bay City Manager Bob Nisbet said that the City Council supports the project.
“Affordable housing and homelessness have been one of the top priorities of the city now going back several years,” Nisbet said. “They (council members) are supportive of the acquisition, and they are doing that because it is morally the right thing to do.”
The 52-room Coastside Inn will be used to house people while connecting them to resources through the county’s Rapid Rehousing Program.
The county plans to begin a pilot program over the next few weeks to house a small number of people at the Coastside Inn. County Manager Mike Callagy said the pilot program would likely be administered by local nonprofit Samaritan House.
The motel is located near downtown Half Moon Bay, close to amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies, a library branch, a community center and nonprofit groups.
Despite the City Council’s support, some Half Moon Bay residents opposed the project, saying that the city had inadequate resources and jobs to support people who are homeless. An online petition opposing the acquisition had more than 2,000 signatures as of Tuesday.
During Tuesday’s meeting and via written comment to the board, residents expressed concerns about the site’s proximity to residential areas and schools, and the city’s limited transportation, health services and medical facilities. Other residents contended that the process was rushed and some worried about the consequences of the program on home values.
Several people wrote to the board, saying they “fear that additional homeless will be brought into our small community to fill the shelter and be a further drain on our limited resources.”
On behalf of the community, Half Moon Bay officials requested that the county commit to reimbursing the city for the financial loss of the motel and allow community input on the operations of the project.
Some residents supported the project, along with the Housing Leadership Council of San Mateo County and housing advocacy group Peninsula for Everyone.
“What you have before you with the rooms at Half Moon Bay is the potential to provide shelter to people. But it is so much more than that. It’s dignity. It’s perceived restoration of humanity,” said Alex Melendrez, an organizer with the Housing Leadership Council.
Conditions for the purchase must be met before escrow is expected to close on Dec. 22. In addition, acquisition of the Coastside Inn must be complete by Dec. 30, the expiration date of the CARES Act funds. After that date, unused funds will return to the federal government.
With the purchase, the county is following the state’s lead by fast-tracking the purchase of properties to be used to house people who are homeless or more vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic.
California’s Project Roomkey initiative funded two shelter programs in San Mateo County. The program evolved into Project Homekey, which provided funds for local governments to purchase hotels and other properties for conversion to interim housing. San Mateo County was awarded over $33 million from Project Homekey. On Dec. 1 the county used Homekey funds to purchase the Pacific Inn and TownePlace Suites, both in Redwood City.