"This is right in the heart of our financial district," said Tom Sullivan, a representative from the Irvine Company, which owns several downtown buildings, during a city hearing on the proposal to build a downtown homeless shelter.
"At a very trying time for downtown office buildings and businesses, we are losing tenants, not just due to the homelessness problem," added Sullivan. "We have several tenants, including a large law firm, that recently told us that they might leave as a result of this."
Irvine Company is one of the several corporations, including Hines Interests, Cushman and Wakefield, and Bridgepoint Education, that sent representatives to the Land Use and Housing meeting in City Hall to speak out in opposition to renovating the World Trade Center building on Sixth Avenue into a 223-bed homeless shelter and health-care facility. During the meeting representatives from the business coalition took 15 minutes to explain why they oppose the project.
The coalition opposes the location of the shelter, the selection process, and the fact that it does nothing to reinstate the police department's ban on illegal lodging and vagrancy that is currently being challenged in a federal court.
"The city needs answers on lifting the ban, and the city needs to seriously explore viable downtown alternatives," said lobbyist Ben Haddad for the downtown business coalition.
After two hours of public testimony from both those opposed and supportive of the project, councilmembers had an opportunity to comment.
"It is important for us to take action today," said committee chair and District 3 councilmember Todd Gloria. "If we allow ourselves to become distracted by the notion that a different building or a different location should be explored...then we are wandering in circles on this issue. The World Trade center site was selected through a long process."
Later, the committee voted 3-1 to move the proposal on to the city council. Downtown's representative on the council, Kevin Faulconer, was the only committee member that voted against the proposal.