A temporary homeless shelter and a new animal shelter could be in the works thanks to property acquisitions approved by Orange County supervisors this week.
Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to buy an abandoned bus terminal next to the county Civic Center in Santa Ana, as well as a letter of intent to swap land at the former Tustin Marine base, which would be used for a new animal shelter.
The bus terminal, which they bought from the Orange County Transportation Authority for $3.2 million, has long been seen by advocates and some elected officials as a smart location for a homeless services center. Hundreds of homeless people live across the street in the open at the Civic Center.
Supervisors approved the bus terminal purchase Tuesday during open session. There was no public discussion, other than an indication that Supervisor Andrew Do, whose district includes Santa Ana, is taking the lead on what to do with the property.
“We’re looking forward to your evaluation and recommendations, Supervisor Do, in the future,” said Chairman Todd Spitzer.
The bus terminal purchase comes amid warnings of intense El Niño rains, which could potentially bring raging waters through the Santa Ana River bed where hundreds of homeless people stay.
Supervisors moved forward with plans to provide extra shelter beds this winter, including up to 440 extra emergency beds, as well as support services.
As for the animal shelter site, Spitzer said that project would be “fast-tracked.”
"Building a new animal shelter is important so that the County can care for animals, pet owners and people interested in pet adoption in the best way," Spitzer, whose district includes the site, said in a news release. "Fast tracking this project is a priority. Orange County will be a leader in animal care.”
Incoming supervisors’ Chairwoman Lisa Bartlett thanked the South Orange County Community College District for agreeing to speed up the land swap.
“As a supervisor and an animal lover, this is a great result,” Bartlett said in the release.
Animal advocates, meanwhile, have expressed concern about the county’s focus on building a single large shelter, saying a network of smaller shelters across the county would be much more cost-effective, as well as help with adoptions, by being closer to volunteers and people interested in adopting.