Butte County holds off approving MOU for pallet housing

CHICO — The Butte County Board of Supervisors held off on making a final approval for the memorandum of understanding between the county and Chico for funding a pallet shelter during its Tuesday meeting.

As part of the American Rescue Plan Act, the county received a large sum of money early this year. Of that money, the Board of Supervisors voted to allocate $1.7 million to the city of Chico for the purpose of building 177 pallet shelters for homeless people at a former BMX track near the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds.

Chief Administrative Officer for Butte County Andy Pickett explained the situation with the MOU prior to the discussion during Tuesday’s meeting explaining that the county had previously come up with conditions for the city receiving the money and the partnership going forward.

“What this MOU does is it memorializes those conditions and it outlines the responsibilities for the county and the city in this partnership and it also sets up a mechanism for the payment,” Pickett said. “Staff recommends approving the MOU.”

Conditions of the MOU, as requested by the county, include climate-controlled units, waste services, bathroom and shower facilities, bike storage and a smoking area. Mental and behavioral health services also need a space to work and provide said services at the site.

Once approved, Chico will be responsible for completing the groundwork for the operation.

Supervisor Tami Ritter expressed concern over whether the city would comply with code enforcement for the site’s use permit as it was not part of the memorandum and Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue agreed.

“Maybe we can wait until our next meeting and reconstruct this MOU to include those things Supervisor Ritter talked about, and approve it at our next meeting,” Kimmelshue said.

The pallet shelter is the result of a lawsuit filed against the city of Chico over the lack of places for homeless people to go after an ordinance was passed removing them from parks.

Supervisor Doug Teeter didn’t support allocating the money originally and gave his comment during Tuesday’s discussion.

“I just feel like we’re going to need this money for our own homeless issues,” Teeter said. “I feel that once Chico solves, or satisfies the federal judge, and they’re able to enforce their codes, they’re going to move to the incorporated area where we don’t have that kind of protection from the judge and I just feel like we are going to not have the money to solve our needs.”

Teeter went on to describe a homeless situation currently happening in Magalia that could use similar funding.

The board voted 4-1 to table the item until the next meeting with Teeter being the single no vote.

The Butte County Board of Supervisors meets at 9 a.m. most second and third Tuesdays of the month at its chambers located at 25 County Center Drive, Suite 205 in Oroville. Meetings are free and open to the public. Those who are not fully vaccinated are required to wear a mask while in the building.

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