Williams extends temporary ban on group homes

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The Williams City Council last week extended its temporary moratorium on the issuance of conditional use permits for the operation of large residential care facilities.

The Aug. 21 decision on the moratorium will give city staff an additional 10 months and 15 days to come up with a policy to allow and regulate such facilities, including group homes for people living with mental illness, or ban them entirely.

The moratorium does not currently affect Mrs. Love’s Guest House, which has been allowed to continue operating the residential home for 13 conservatees under Sutter Yuba Mental Health Services, city officials said.

“Mrs. Love’s will continue through this moratorium until we figure this whole thing out,” said City Administrator Frank Kennedy, who added that the temporary ban was to prevent other large facilities from coming into Williams before the city has an opportunity to properly address them in their city’s municipal code.

City Planner Monica Stegall said city staff are working swiftly to regulate such facilities.
“We don’t think we will need the 10 months and 15 days,” Stegall said.

“We are very close on narrowing what our options are, and will be coming back to the Planning Commission and City Council with recommended changes to the zoning code,” Stegall added.

Stegall said city staff have been researching large residential care facilities and the state licensing requirements since the city learned in June that Mrs. Love’s changed from caring for the elderly to caring for people 18 and older who have a mental illness or disability.

City officials said they will continue to receive input from the public about the 10th Street group home, but that they must also consider state and federal laws that prevent discrimination in housing for people with disabilities.

Stegall said the city’s goal over the next few months is to study the impacts of group homes so the city can sufficiently protect the residents of such facilities as well as surrounding property owners.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Love’s care provider Becky Jimenez, who has worked at the 10th Street home since 2018, said the residents are respectful, enjoy living in Williams, and want to stay in a facility that provides them with safe and secure housing, with access to local services.

“My job is very rewarding because I know I make a difference for them,” Jimenez said.
Jimenez said the residents are well monitored, they are learning to contribute to their own care, are easy going, get along with one another, are friendly to others, and contribute to the economy of the city.

“They are law abiding citizens who want to be accepted,” Jimenez said. “The residents of Mrs. Love’s guest house have a lot to offer and the community needs to give them a chance.”

Jimenez said the residents have not only been unfairly judged for their disabilities, but are being judged unfairly by the community because they were moved to Williams from Sutter County.

“They should not be judged by where they came from,” she said. ■