Despite obstacles, organization works to convert Coos Bay motel into rehab center

Pacific Empire Motel in Coos Bay, Ore., Aug. 16, 2018. (SBG)

COOS BAY, Ore. -- After getting approval from the City, Bay Area First Step in Coos Bay has hit an obstacle in their quest to convert the Pacific Empire Motel into a rehab center.

The First Step program works with drug and alcohol abuse patients.

But the Pacific Empire will be a motel for a little while longer, at least while Bay Area First Step works to bring it up to standards.

BAFS Finance Director Patty Sanden says they've been awarded a conditional use permit, but have a few things to take care of before they can use it.

"We have to meet some criteria before they will issue the occupancy permit,” she explains. “The main thing that has to be addressed is the parking lot; it's in poor condition."

Besides reconstruction and re-striping the parking space lines, they're thinking of getting rid of the big sign and adding more plants.

"The average homeless person costs a community about $40,000 a year, Sanden says, “mostly in medical costs and encounters with law enforcement."

She says this property will help with that.

There's still some work that needs to be done before the motel can operate as an official recovery center, but current residents say they're optimistic for what it means for the community.

Current residents Mateo and Terra Camacho Bravo have been there for four months, trying to sell art to make a living.

"I think it was a good move forward and I think it's going to do this community a lot of good," they said.

Although plans for the property are still being developed, Sanden is hopeful it will make a difference in the community.

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