Monterey County Parks Supervisor Polo Ortega (left) guides County Supervisor Chris Lopez through the 10-trailer alternative housing site set up at San Lorenzo Park in King City for Covid-19 patients. (Photos by Sean Roney)

KING CITY — Ten trailers have been set up at San Lorenzo Park in King City to serve as the South Monterey County regional Alternative Housing Site in the event of a local Covid-19 outbreak.

The state had promised Monterey County 100 trailers, but so far has only delivered 15. The other five trailers are part of the Marina Alternative Care Site.

County Supervisor Chris Lopez explained the difference as being the ACS in Marina would house hospital overflow as a type of field medical hospital. San Lorenzo, as an AHS, would house those who test positive for Covid-19 but are not in critical condition and have nowhere safe to isolate themselves, or would need to leave their house and become homeless in the process.

“If I have somebody who lives in a house with several other people and they can’t self isolate in that house, then we’re going to make sure that these are available to them so they have a place to get into and not spread the infectious disease that we’re all trying to avoid here,” Lopez said.

The intent will be for people housed at San Lorenzo to wait until they recover. Trailers will have basic services, such as water, electricity and gas, but stoves have been disabled to prevent fire risk and because food will be provided by the county.

“These are folks who will be here to recover,” Lopez said. “They will have everything they need on site. There’ll be care, there’ll be food.”

San Lorenzo was closed to the public in April and cleared of all campers and volunteers. County staff has since worked on turning part of the park into the regional AHS, with the trailers having arrived in late April.

County staff from every department have been able to switch to crisis response and help at sites, something Lopez credited with being able to set up San Lorenzo quickly with only three county employees.

“Every county employee is an emergency worker,” he said. “We have a lot of folks who volunteered to be reassigned from their offices to work here. It’s all hands on deck, and the county family is responding.”

Care for those housed at the site would be covered by the county, with reimbursement requests to be sent to the state.

“It’s always a push-pull through any crisis,” Lopez said about his experience with funding in his years with the county.

He estimated the county might see 75 cents on the dollar spent responding to the Covid-19 pandemic from expenditures, such as the AHS in San Lorenzo.

“We hope to never use them, we really do, but if they’re needed, they’re wonderfully set up and ready to go,” Lopez said regarding the shelter sites in San Lorenzo, Marina and the Monterey County Fairgrounds.

Food services are a work in progress, as Lopez said they have yet to confirm a final plan.

“We’ve talked about local restaurants as well as using the De Anza Building, which has a commercial kitchen in it,” he said.

Plans are to house one person per trailer at first, then filling more if the need increases. If there are families, Lopez said they can be housed in a trailer, which has the capacity to sleep six people.

The trailers are fresh from the shops, and Lopez said dealers say they have more trailers ready, despite the state having informed the county there is trouble finding more trailers.

Nevertheless, Lopez said county leaders have put pressure on requests to receive the additional trailers promised by the state, as well as other funds to prepare for and respond to the pandemic.

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Sean Roney is a freelance reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.


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