EL CENTRO — The county of Imperial will set aside $75,000 to cover ancillary costs related to providing temporary housing to several families displaced by the fatal Nov. 26 fire at the Desert Shores Trailer Park.
The allocation from the county’s community benefit program was needed because of the restrictions placed on funds that the state had already approved to assist the impacted families, county Deputy Executive Officer Esperanza Colio said.
Previously, the California Department of Housing and Community Development authorized the use of COVID-19 Community Development Block Grant funds to cover the cost of the displaced families’ rent and utilities for up to 90 days.
Yet, those funds could not be used on the additional expenses that the county incurred from relocating the families into the travel trailers donated by the state, Colio told the county Board of Supervisors during its regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 21.
During the relocation process, local officials discovered that some of the travel trailers lacked parts such as batteries and cables. Each of the travel trailers that were moved to a Salton City mobile home park also required a $550 rental deposit.
Additionally, the state’s CDBG funds did not cover the cost of transporting those trailers.
“That move cost $14,997,” Colio told the board, which unanimously approved the $75,000 allocation and a related budget amendment that reflects the transfer of funds.
The state has provided the county $145,000 in CDBG funds to assist with its response to COVID-19 impacts. About $30,000 of that total has gone toward utility assistance for the displaced Desert Shores fire victims, as well as for former residents of the Roberta Motel in El Centro, which was red-tagged by the city in November.
The county also requested to use about $100,000 of its CBDG funds for hotel vouchers and rental assistance for the individuals displaced by the Desert Shores fire and the condemning of the Roberta Hotel, Colio said after the board meeting.
So far, the county has made five travel trailers available for the temporary housing of some of the displaced families. A total of eight families were directly impacted by the Nov. 26 fire. An additional five families have been identified as being in need of further assistance as a result from a previous fire, Colio said during the meeting.
“Although there were only a number of travel trailers that were impacted, literally in some of those residences there were more than two families,” Colio told the board.
The Nov. 26 fire destroyed a total of eight mobile homes and claimed the lives of 33-year-old Pedro Dominguez Dominguez, his 14-year-old daughter Viridiana Dominguez and 9-year-old son Joseph Dominguez.
It was the fourth structure fire that occurred at the mobile home park in recent years, residents said.
The $75,000 allocation from the county’s community benefit program will allow the county to cover any additional expenses not covered by the state’s CDBG funds. Any of the allocation not used for assisting the fire victims would revert to the program, Colio said.
Because the displaced families lost their possessions in the fire, efforts are underway to provide them with donated household goods.
Requested items include bed sheets (each travel trailer has one queen and two full-size bunk beds), bed blankets, pillows, towels, dinnerware, kitchen utensils, kitchen cookware, personal hygiene items (deodorant, toothpaste, shampoo) iron and ironing board, trash cans, cleaning supplies, canned food, and other non-perishable food.
For more information about how to donate items, contact Colio at 442-265-1011.
Board Approves $200K for Desert Shores Community Park
The Board of Supervisors, acting as the county Air Pollution Control District board, unanimously approved the use of $200,000 in Clean Air Trust Fund monies for improvements to the Desert Shores Community Park.
Planned improvements will include the creation of a 33,000-square-foot grass field in place of the current dirt lot that kids play on. The dirt lot will be prepared, leveled, compacted, and have an irrigations system installed to maintain the grass.
The project will have no impact to the county’s general fund as it will utilize grant monies. It is being undertaken in collaboration with the Salton Community Services District.
Board approves Bid for Aquifer Analysis
During its meeting, the Board of Supervisors also approved a $19,860 bid from San Diego-based Geo-Logic Associates to conduct a water analysis of the Desert Shores aquifer.
The groundwater study will determine the aquifer’s ability to potentially provide up to 300 acre-feet of water on an annual basis to help restore Desert Shores water channels to historic levels, according to the resolution’s backup documents.
As part of the Desert Shores Restoration Project, up to two wells could potentially be created to replenish the community’s “fingers” of water that have been disconnected from the Salton Sea because of its receding shoreline.
The aquifer’s extracted water will be mixed with Salton Sea water to fill the channels, help suppress emissive dust and serve as habitat for fish and birds.