ESCONDIDO (CBS 8) - The Escondido Planning Commission is shamed for standing by its decision to deny a conditional use permit for an unaccompanied child migrant center.
Tuesday night, the commission heard from dozens of people in a two hour public hearing. Many supported the center, a much different crowd than last month when the commission first denied a permit.
Emotions ran high - and tempers flared - at a news conference Tuesday held by the ACLU in Escondido, where a proposed plan to house unaccompanied migrant children was struck down last month.
At issue is the proposal to turn a vacant 96-bed nursing home in Escondido into a facility to temporarily house migrant children ages six through 17, while they are being processed. Last month, the Escondido Planning Commission denied the request for a special land use permit to convert the facility into a shelter. The ACLU says it may have been an illegal move.
"We are investigating whether the city is breaking the law by refusing permission to do so," ACLU Legal Director David Loy said.
Loy says they are looking to see if there's appropriate legal action to be taken against the city of Escondido.
"The law of the United States requires the government to provide safe, secure and supportive housing for those children," he continued.
Neighbors say they're concerned about the escape rate, which the group that would run the facility - Southwest Key - says is about one percent. Neighbors say that translates into roughly one child per month escaping from the shelter. Neighbors also point out there's no room for a playground or any recreation activity outdoors at the site, which sits along a busy road.
Southwest Keys has ten days to appeal. If appealed, the Planning Commission will vote again on August 2.