BARSTOW After receiving input from concerned residents at Tuesday's City Council meeting, City Council members decided to delay the vote on an amendment to Desert Manna's lease so that they can make more changes to the document.

The amendment to the lease between the city and Desert Manna was drawn in order to address terms in the original agreement that were not being met by Desert Manna, said Community and Economic Development Director Ron Rector. The city sent the board of executive directors a notice of violation last July after discovering that staff members were living at the shelter. Desert Manna's lease with the city will expire June 30, 2012.

Mayor Joe Gomez wanted to know how the shelter staff determined if a person was a Barstow area resident, and shelter staff said people wishing to enter the shelter had to have a valid driver's license or identification card that stated they lived in the area. Sheri Randolph, executive director for Desert Manna, said she would be the one to determine if a person had an extreme physical or mental incapacity. She said the shelter would work with other locations to bring people the care they needed if they were incapacitated in some way and would not be able to work anymore.

Randolph said the shelter employees would be counted among residents at the shelter for grant funding because they would be homeless while living there.

City Council members wanted to have the amendment changed because Desert Manna is referred to as a religious, non-profit organization when it is strictly a non-profit organization with no religious affiliation.

One resident said the City Council should look at local businesses and see how they would be affected by the terms in the agreement. Carol Randall, Barstow resident, also said the city should have had more oversight over Desert Manna from the beginning of the agreement.

Chamber of Commerce president Mark Sielski was also concerned and urged the City Council to use caution when deciding on the terms of the agreement because of the effect on Barstow as well as its small businesses.

Randolph said the shelter was already operating under the guidelines in the draft agreement and that she would be welcome to provide whatever information the city needed in order to change the lease agreement.

The City Council plans to vote on the amendment at the next city council meeting, which will be held Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers at 220 East Mountain View Street.

Contact the writer:
(760) 256-4122 or kjonas@desertdispatch.com

Desert Manna proposed lease amendment

Employees of the shelter can live at the shelter, but there can only be seven employees living there at one time.

Non-residents of Barstow may only stay at the shelter for a maximum of three days.

Barstow-area residents (including residents of Hinkley, Yermo, Newberry Springs and Daggett) may live in the shelter for a maximum of 30 days.

Exceptions to the three- or 30-day maximum rule include the following situations, but cannot exceed 90 days: People who are waiting to receive their first paycheck after they get a job, families that need emergency shelter, times of inclement weather or when temperatures are lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, or if residents have an extreme physical disability or mental incapacity.

Non-violent and non-sexual offenders may also reside in the shelter, as long as they lived in the Barstow area at the time of the conviction.

Loitering at the shelter at any time is prohibited and the shelter must discourage loitering.

The shelter must have proof of insurance.

The shelter cannot make modifications to the property without prior approval.

Any improvements that the city allows the shelter to make must meet all building and safety laws.

The shelter must obey all fire codes including posted occupancy limits.

The shelter must provide written reports on its operations.

The shelter must allow the city to perform an audit on $17,000 in funds that the city gave to Desert Manna in the past.

The shelter is not tax-exempt and will have to pay all required taxes.