The opening of the city of Tracy’s interim homeless shelter has also come with additional expenses.

On Tuesday the Tracy City Council acknowledged those expenses by authorizing a series of change orders, which were anticipated expenses once the council declared homelessness in town to be an emergency that required action outside of the usual bidding process for construction contracts.

The resolutions up for council votes on Tuesday recapped the history of the Temporary Emergency Housing Project on Arbor Avenue, identified in March 2020 as the site of a 68-bed facility that would serve as a shelter and service center for the unsheltered homeless.

The city got started on the project, first establishing a $10 million budget, and then in April the council authorized a $2 million contract with GradeTech, Inc., to prepare the site for the 6,300-square-foot Sprung, high-tension membrane, structure. When the city sought construction bids only one contractor submitted a bid, which the city rejected because of an incomplete proposal.

That prompted the council to reaffirm that a homelessness emergency exists, which allows the council to authorize City Manager Michael Rogers to take any actions needed to establish an interim shelter before another winter sets in. Rogers got that authorization in August, and by mid-November the city had brought in a series of four prefabricated modular buildings to serve as a dormitory-style shelter, plus a fifth building that includes a service center, offices and a community room.

That required additional spending in order to make the site suitable to serve the modular buildings, which sit just south of where the Sprung structure will go and provide 48 beds, with people moving into that shelter over the past few weeks.

The city is leasing the modular units at a cost of $1,748.67 each per-month, $2,862.24 for the larger administration building. They were previously used at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. The city will also buy eight repurposed shipping containers, which will sit just north of the modular buildings and will provide another 39 beds, from Custom Containers 915 of Texas for $656,000. They are expected to be delivered by the end of the month.

The change orders pay for additional grading and extending underground utilities to serve the interim shelter, plus the modified shipping containers. Assistant City Manager Karin Schnaider explained that the original contract with GradeTech covered only the original shelter plan.

“When we moved to advancing those other phases we completed all of that pipe and undergrounding all the way through the site and connected that as well to what will be a future sewer lift station at the back of the property,” Schnaider told the council. “This was all part of our emergency ordinance and we used our existing contractors to be able to expedite that process. That’s why these are coming to you as change orders.”

On Tuesday the council retroactively approved a $790,000 change order to GradeTech’s original $2 million contract, plus another $300,000 change order for site work still to come. The council approved two more contracts totaling $470,000.

One is a $250,000 contract with Tennyson Electric, Inc., which has installed electrical utilities in the modular units and will also install electrical utilities in a series of repurposed shipping containers expected to arrive this month. The other is $220,000 with Tracy Grading and Paving, which prepared the site where the modular units were placed.

The council approved the funding on a unanimous vote, with council members complimenting city staff on the progress made so far.

“Celebrate the small wins, because we have made a lot of progress on El Pescadero Park (site of the city’s largest encampment),” Councilman Mateo Bedolla said. “Many people who have been residents of that park have relocated and started the process of getting help.”

Mayor Nancy Young noted that the money approved Tuesday was eventually going to be spent, but the timing allowed the city to open up the shelter in spite of previous delays.

Mayor Pro Tem Veronica Vargas added, “I want to give our City Manager kudos for whatever conversations happened with staff to get us here today, moving forward and providing a better quality of life to all of our residents here in Tracy.”

• Contact Bob Brownne at, or call 209-830-4227.

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