Background on why city is examining parolee housing

By Keith Haydon on August 6, 2018

Haydon, Keith mayor for websiteOur city and community are currently examining the best approach to deal with the impact of prison reform law imposed on us by the state, resulting in Contra Costa County’s strategic plan for early release of parolees back into local communities.

The state and county are doing this to offset their legal incarceration challenges (prison overcrowding) and costs. Courtesy of state law AB109, the county established a Reentry Program in October 2011 to provide for parolees to live in communities rather than finish their time in jail.

Without the Clayton City Council’s enactment of a two-year moratorium on parolee housing in 2016, parolee housing could have entered our city without a permit, public review or city regulation – with no notice to the city or a procedure for the city to have it removed once it came here.

The moratorium expires on Oct. 3, 2018. If we take no action, parolee housing could come into any residential area in the city.

Despite some misunderstandings among residents, the City Council is not supportive of the idea of parolee community housing. That is why we enacted the maximum two-year moratorium to deter its arrival until local regulations and location restrictions could be established to protect Clayton.

Other cities aren’t discussing parolee housing along with Clayton because their municipal codes currently allow it – and under terms less restrictive than this council is considering. The Clayton City Council is not “approving” or “inviting” parolee housing, as some assert, nor is anyone on the council or staff pushing a parolee housing agenda.
We have analyzed three options to determine the best plan to further protect our residents and to provide the best foundation to withstand a legal challenge.

The first option is to take no further action, thereby allowing state and county programs to place parolee housing in any residential area of our community. That would allow parolee housing with no local notice or control and does not provide reasonable protection for our community.

A second option is to adopt an outright ban on all parolee housing within our community. Such a ban would be problematic and costly to defend if challenged. According to our legal counsel, serious concerns exist about whether a ban would prevail in court.

Exposing our city to potentially costly and unsuccessful litigation would not be a prudent or reasonable long-term solution of our stewardship to protect our community. Likely based on similar analyses, no other city in Contra Costa County has adopted an outright ban on parolee housing.

The last option is to adopt a local ordinance that would strictly regulate and limit the locations of this type of housing. The council would enact local laws requiring approval of a city permit in advance, public notices and hearings, and local regulations such as confining the placement of parolee housing into small sections of the city with buffer distances (500 feet) from sensitive uses such as a licensed daycares, parks or schools.

The council decided this last option was the best, sustainable approach to maintaining local control over parolee housing in our community. We will be reviewing the proposed ordinance at the City Council meeting on Aug. 21.

For more background on this issue, the full staff analysis that was presented at the July 17 meeting is available on the city of Clayton website, under the City Council, Agendas tab.

I look forward to sharing more information with you about Clayton items and activities in upcoming months. See you out on the trails and, as always, feel free to send comments to me at khaydon@ci.clayton.ca.us.

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