By Debra Moore
It was a typical Saturday in early summer and neighbors were mingling on Main Street in Quincy, when they discovered that afternoon that not all inhabitants on the block were who they thought they were.
They live near Ohana house — the recognizable home with the stone columns — that they thought was used to house youth who had aged out of the foster care system. But turns out that the house is home to those out on probation and parole.
That came as a shock. When did the purpose change? Why weren’t they notified? They reached out to Plumas News for information.
An article printed in the Feather River Bulletin back in October of 2016 heralded the opening of the facility. “A vote of support was given as Ohana House celebrated its grand opening Oct. 20. The presidential-looking house on Main Street is the new home for a number of transitional youth, ages 15 to 24, facilitated by Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center.”
That was nearly five years ago and Plumas News can find no subsequent articles reporting a change of focus. Would such a change require a special use permit? Would it require neighbor notification? It’s a leap to think homeless youth are living there to the knowledge that a parolee or probationer is your new neighbor. Would that be important information to know?
Plumas News contacted Planning Director Tracey Ferguson to find out if such a process would have required a special use permit or neighbor notification. According to her research, no process was followed, because it wasn’t required based on the area’s zoning. These are the core points:
- The area is Zoned C-1 (Core Commercial), which allows for a business office on the ground floor and lodging on the second floor if the entire first floor is a business office.
- Plumas County Code defines “Business office” as an office used for provision of sales, professional, executive, management, financial or administrative services. It defines “Lodging” as a group of two or more guest rooms for transient lodging.
According to Ferguson the first floor of Ohana House is a business office, therefore lodging would be allowed on the second floor.
An example of such zoning would be the block of Main Street that houses the Drunk Brush, Grandma Janes, The Knook and the Main Street Artists Gallery on the first floor, with the Courtyard Suites located on the floor above those ground floor businesses.
While Ohana House might fit the description, does it fit the spirit of the code? According to District Attorney David Hollister it doesn’t even fit the description — the bottom floor of Ohana House isn’t used strictly for offices; it also provides the communal living spaces.
The information that the house’s use had transitioned came as a surprise to both District Attorney David Hollister and District 1 Supervisor Greg Hagwood when asked about it. That’s part of the reason why it is on the board’s agenda today.
“This isn’t what the public agreed to,” Hollister said. “The board should have an opportunity to vet this.”
“The Ohana House was originally intended and funded to provide resources for young people aging out of foster care; other individuals are being afforded the housing and that was not the intent,” Hagwood said.
All of this will be discussed today, Aug. 17, during the Board of Supervisors meeting as the board considers the $45,000 requested from the Plumas Crisis Intervention and Resource Center to help fund the program. The Community Corrections Partnership — the entity that would normally allocate the funds — deferred this decision to the Board of Supervisors.
The money requested specifically is for the Pathways Home Program — which addresses the housing needs of men and women who are transitioning from prison/jail and the judicial system. In backup material provided to the board a brief history was provided: “Since the inception of this program in July 2016 and through June 20, Pathways Home has served 327 unduplicated individuals in accessing emergency, transitional and permanent housing. This current year will close out with services to approximately 50 program participants.”
The document goes on to say that “over the past year, there has been a significant increase in the number of Penal Code 290 sex offender cases paroled back to Plumas County. PCIRC assists with the difficult task of securing both temporary, transitional and permanent housing for these offenders.”
When asked if the Ohana House has been used for such housing, Hagwood said that it has been. “I appreciate the intentions of PCIRC,” Hagwood said, “however, I am deeply concerned that offenders of that nature are being accommodated at that location.”