Questioning Zoning & Permits for Home for Sex Trafficking Victims

Letters to the Editor submitted to The Coronado Times are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the publisher, editors or writers of this publication. Submit letters to letters@coronadotimes.com.

Submitted by Anne Boston Parish

Dear Mayor Bailey and Membership of City Council:

The opinion of this letter is to present a contrast to the information that has circulated in the Coronado Eagle & Journal Newspaper and The Coronado Times. It is my opinion that both articles did not offer critical facts, in contrast to what was cited as the startup of a transition home. This in regard to the [Coronado residence], a historically Mills Act designated home, and the conversion of it into a home for women who have been victims within sexual human trafficking. After I read both articles, my first impression was that this conversion was already “a done deal,” and I wondered had the community done its due diligence in regard to all the critical factors/questions in this concept and in the overall impact this “transition home,” “safe haven,” or “group home” would have on the community. I really have no “dog in this fight,” nor do I morally or ethically object to this concept. It is my opinion that Coronado may not be a realistic site for such a startup. In many ways this is not a normal community, and somewhat insulated from the real world. I do not wish anyone any harm or hardship, but I want to present my opinion for some of the challenges that may be forthcoming.

I was under the impression, prior to the alteration of a residential home into a business site, there are other elements involved in its startup. Regardless of this home being historically Mills Act designated and I assume funded, I was under the impression that there is City Code that would restrict a startup commercial business operating within the residential City Title Map or zoning map. This would include the startup of a bed and breakfast, duplex or any business or lodging. It would appear, on the zoning map of Coronado, [this residence] clearly lies within residential zoning. I had been told that the City of Coronado no longer allows for this type of lodging to be established or converted, even if had been operating in this manner, prior to the purchase of a property or the bequest of a property. I was also under the impression a Special Use Permit would be required to precede the startup of commercial space; and may include the installation of a fire suppression system and ample off street parking for its occupants and residents. I noticed a 501c3 tax status would be attached to the property, in essence could City Council fund this group home, as it does for so many local philanthropic groups with grant dollars, when grants are requested? In addition to a 501c3 status of this property, I was told, a Mills Act designated property is just that: residential, and precludes any operational status of a business at such an address. I also wondered: What really is a more representative age of this target age group of young women and their legal status? If they are school age, how would they assimilate into the community? In writing this opinion, I also questioned if the resident is of school age (11, 12, 13 years of age) would this group home designate a living suite for any family members to visit or temporarily live with their child. Lastly, would the legal or illegal status of any residents be evaluated? If a resident is “illegally in this country,” would this be ignored, and would this “group home” be considered “a sanctuary home” for any resident and their needs? This begs the question: Does the City of Coronado possibly jeopardize its federal funding by supporting the inception of a sanctuary group home (within its City boundary), and then be considered a Sanctuary City for refuge of sex trafficking?

While many of my questions are focused on local City ordinances, I was curious about the target population, so I did an online search, and even though my reference is greater than 5 (five) years old, it is a good source. According to the FBI March 2011 law enforcement bulletin, sex trafficking is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. The majority of sex trafficking is international, with victims taken from such places as South and Southeast Asia, the former Soviet Union, Central and South America, and other less developed areas and moved to more developed ones, including Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America. Unfortunately, sex trafficking also occurs domestically. The United States not only faces an influx of international victims but also has its own homegrown problem of interstate sex trafficking of minors. In the United States, an estimated 293,000 American youths currently are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation. The majority of these victims are runaway or thrown-away youths who live on the streets and become victims of prostitution. These children generally come from homes where they have been abused or from families who have abandoned them. Often, they become involved in prostitution to support themselves financially or to get the things they feel they need or want (like drugs). The average age at which girls first become victims of prostitution is 12 to 14. It is not only the girls on the streets who are affected; boys and transgender youth enter into prostitution between the ages of 11 and 13 on average.

Respectfully submitted,
Anne Boston Parish


Editor’s Notes:
  • The address of the residence as listed in the original letter has been removed.
  • There will be a Community Forum on Sex Trafficking on March 1. Click HERE for more information.

 

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Originally from upstate New York, Dani Schwartz has lived in Coronado since 1996. She and her husband Harry are thrilled to call Coronado home and raise their two children here. In her free time enjoys reading, hitting the gym and walking her dog around the “island”. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: manager@coronadotimes.com