Permit delays Serenity House expansion

City requiring additional bathrooms

PORT ANGELES — The planned expansion of the Serenity House of Clallam County homeless shelter in west Port Angeles has been delayed for permitting issues, the three county commissioners heard Monday.

Sharron Maggard, Serenity House executive director, said the 80-bed expansion is on hold because the city of Port Angeles required Friday completed drawings for 10 new restrooms or a commitment from the nonprofit to install temporary restrooms with showers at the facility on West 18th Street.

“The construction for the shelter is not going to be done by May 1, which was its intended schedule, because I don’t have a (building) permit,” Maggard told county commissioners Monday.

Allyson Brekke, Port Angeles Community and Economic Development director, said in a later interview that the city supports the Serenity House expansion but requires the shelter to meet code.

“We are certainly seeing the huge importance of this project, and we have presented them an option to resolve the permit issues,” Brekke said.

Clallam County opened a temporary Social Distancing Center last April to give the homeless population a place to maintain 6 feet of physical distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The new Serenity House shelter would have space for about 40 beds on each floor of the two-story, 2,000-square-foot structure. The bunk house-style building would nearly double the capacity of the 92-bed Serenity House shelter at 2321 W. 18th St.

County officials had planned to close the Social Distancing Center in the Port of Port Angeles-owned 1010 Building as soon as the new shelter opens.

Commissioners agreed Monday to discuss next steps for the Serenity House project in a work session next Monday.

“What we would intend to talk about next week would be what the county can do to help restart the permitting process and move that along,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said.

Port Angeles Hearing Examiner Andrew Reeves approved a conditional use permit for the $403,000 shelter expansion last December.

Maggard said she received notice of the city’s restroom requirements Friday.

“They couldn’t let us use our existing restrooms,” Maggard told commissioners.

“I either had to furnish the plans for the new restrooms in its entirety, or I had to commit to renting new restrooms for when we open the new shelter.

“I just don’t have the funds to do either one of them at this time,” Maggard added.

Serenity House received federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act grants from the county and city to expand the shelter.

The nonprofit still needs about $65,000 to complete the project, Maggard said.

Maggard said it would cost about $3,000 per month for Serenity House to rent temporary restrooms with showers or $25,000 to complete designs for 10 new restrooms. The existing shelter has seven restrooms.

Brekke said Serenity House submitted a revised building permit application April 2 that contained “small issues” related to bathroom fixtures.

“What has happened — no fault of anybody — is that, as code has changed, they’re a little bit short with number of showers, number of bathrooms,” Brekke said in a telephone interview.

“The good news is they already had plans to do those restroom upgrades.

“I tell Sharron all the time, we’re on the same team here,” Brekke added. “We just, unfortunately, have to go through the process to ensure those occupants are safe.”

Meanwhile, Clallam County is spending about $90,000 per month to operate the Social Distancing Center in the port-owned industrial building.

“That can’t continue on and on forever,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said Monday, “so we need to look at what all the alternatives are.”

In addition to a $15,000 monthly lease for the port building, Clallam County has contracts with Olympic Community Action Programs for operations, Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic for medical services and Norpoint Tactical for security services at the Social Distancing Center.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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