SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — In order to help ease the homeless crisis, Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that he is making nearly 300 parcels of surplus land throughout California available for free for local cities and counties to use to open homeless shelters.

A map shows the 286 state-owned parcels of land that the governor is offering up for homeless solutions.

You can see there are many in the Bay Area.

Many are owned by Caltrans, including a small patch of land under the 280 freeway in San Francisco’s dog patch. Or off Wolfback Ridge Road next to 101 in Sausalito. 

But what is likely one of the largest unused area is the 200-acre campus of what used to be the Sonoma Developmental Center outside Glen Ellen.

In it’s heyday, it housed 3,000 people with profound special needs and employed 13,000 people.  

But over the years, that population has been shifted to more smaller community-based facilities and the site was shuttered last year.

With 176 buildings on the sprawling campus, it might seem like the answer to the prayers of those looking for solutions to the homeless crisis. Supervisor Susan Gorin says think again.

“It shattered, it shut, has no furnishings — but more importantly it has no utilities,” Gorin said. “The heat and cooling has been shut down because of the infrastructure crumbling, the water treatment plant was shut down. So it is challenging to consider this center as a site for homeless services certainly in the future.”

She said even rehabbing one of these buildings would take hundreds of millions of dollars because so much would need to be done to bring the infrastructure up to code.  

Right now there are a lot of ideas being kicked around to revitalize this site. And having a small homeless shelter or transitional housing is not out of the question.

But as this was once Sonoma Valley’s largest employer, the supervisor is envisioning something that would also bring jobs and affordable housing.

“We need employment services and housing, housing, housing,” she said.

A spokesperson for the state’s business, consumer services and housing agency overseeing these state surplus parcels says it’s not mandatory that the properties being offered up be used for homeless shelters.

They are they just offering them up in case they could be a good fit for that purpose to help ease this crisis.

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