Legal documents filed by the city of Chico on Monday (June 21) claim a temporary shelter facility at the Chico Municipal Airport is set up and ready to begin providing tent and parking space for unhoused individuals.
The city issued a press release this afternoon (June 22) saying the site will open Friday at 8 a.m.
The court filings—a supplemental brief and attached letters from city staff and others related to an ongoing lawsuit filed by Legal Services of Northern California on behalf of eight local homeless plaintiffs—also offer the first glimpse at the city’s plans to address the lack of local shelter as demanded by a U.S. District Court.
As described in the supplemental brief, the airport site “consists of a graded pad that is divided into a total of 571 temporary shelter spaces.” The bulk of those spaces—421—are 20 by 20 feet, and 150 are 10 by 20 feet, and can accommodate cars or tents.
The area is fenced off and includes two 275-water gallon potable water tanks, two hand-washing stations, three portable toilets and one shade tent. The city will provide free transportation to the shelter from the downtown transit center four times daily. The city has hired trash, sanitation and security services to service the airport site, but is still searching for someone to manage the location, according to the brief.
According to the document, the airport shelter is meant to be temporary, with more permanent shelter space to be developed at the city-owned property where the Silver Dollar BMX track is located.
The brief argues that the airport site provides adequate shelter in line with Judge Morrison C. England Jr.’s directive that the city complies with the landmark Martin v. Boise case, and requests that the plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction be denied.
“Adding the 120 spaces at the Torres Shelter, 58 spaces at the Jesus Center together with the 571 spaces now available at the Airport Shelter results in a total of 749 shelter spaces in Chico,” it reads. “Consequently, the City now has more than enough shelter space available for the entire homeless population required by Martin for the City to resume enforcement of its anti-camping ordinances.”
Following several postponements, a hearing for the lawsuit is scheduled for July 2.
The CN&R reached out to Legal Services of Northern California and multiple Chico City Council members for comment, but had not received responses by publication.