Zoning Changes for Emergency Shelters

If you have read this blog before, you are fully aware of the types of portable buildings available for numerous uses. From using a carport to harbor an old clunker you just can’t throw out to setting up a canopy for an awesome party, portable structures are an absolutely essential product for many people. There is another use for portable buildings that isn’t as discussed as the others, but may be more important, at least from a sociological standpoint: emergency shelters. These shelters are used in case of natural disasters and are also used more commonly for homeless citizens in some bigger cities. However, one county is now looking at the shelter areas under a microscope.

Rocklin and Roseville Today reports that Placer County in California is currently changing regulations that clarify where emergency shelters are allowed to be placed:

“Under the new rules, host churches will not be subject to discretionary land-use review by the county. With the Zoning Ordinance changes, church-based emergency shelters that provide humanitarian assistance are now a permitted accessory use not subject to discretionary review when operated on the church sites.

The new rules implement provisions of a new state law that require a local government to identify at least one land-use zone where emergency shelters are permitted uses and thus are not required to obtain conditional use permits or other discretionary permits.”

Thankfully, these regulations may make it a bit easier for organizations to place homeless persons in emergency shelter situations. By reducing the number of permits needed, emergency shelters have a place in Placer County, where many nonprofits have temporary housing:

“Several nonprofit groups provide transitional housing where individuals and families can stay for up to two years while receiving support services. Placer County’s Adult System of Care provides various types of supportive housing where residents are eligible to receive onsite and offsite support services. No limit is placed on how long a resident can stay in supportive housing.”

Carport Construction is On the Rise

Spring weather can change in an instant. Take a few storm systems with high pressure and have them collide with some low pressure and you never know what kind of curveballs Mother Nature will spit out. This is the situation that some people in Abilene, Texas, were recently faced with, when a massive hailstorm attacked the town in late April. So what are the residents doing about it? It’s time for some carports.

According to an article from reporternews, there was enough damage done in Abilene for citizens to start protect their cars with carports:

“ ‘We’d talked about it,’ recalled Sandi Hugg, referring to conversations with her husband, Charles. The couple’s two vintage cars sat in a garage, but nothing protected two other vehicles.Then came the hail on April 24, pounding the couple’s Toyota Tundra — almost totaling it, Hugg said — and Toyota Highlander.

‘Once that happened, we decided it’s not going to happen again,’ she said, and the couple had a carport installed by mid-May. Others in Abilene apparently have been making the same decision, with carport construction spiking in the weeks since the hailstorm.”

The article says that 16 carports have been approved since the beginning of May, with another 4 this month, a definite increase from the 10 permits given out last year. Some carport companies are seeing a large increase in interest and sales, with a distinct type for different halves of the town:

“On average, [one business owner] said he’s installing about three carports each week, including attached carports in town and detached models more popular in rural areas. In the city, detached carports are only allowed in backyards, he said.”

There are other hurdles in Abilene’s zoning laws, but there are special exception permits that allow ways around the bureaucracy. However, those want these exceptions better have deep pockets – there is a $400 fee. Think about it though – this is definitely a look cheaper than fixing up a car. A carport it is!



Portable Medical Buildings Cause a Stir

Pharmacies are an essential element of our lives and provide a service that isn’t available from any other type of vendor. Put simply, we visit pharmacies to receive medicine for ailments we might have. These stores also offer consultation and other advice to customers who may not know exactly what their drugs may do. But no matter how present pharmacies are, that does not make up for the importance of surgery centers and operating areas in hospitals.

That is why a story out of England’s Maldon Standard has many people concerned that a pharmacy is being planned at a local hospital with no room to spare. In fact, portable buildings are on the property just to reduce pressure on current hospital proceedings:

“Currently there are two portable buildings at the medical centre’s Lee House site to relieve the pressure on space within the main surgery building. Representations to Chelmsford Council by Danbury Parish Council said: ‘It is not appropriate to reduce space in the surgery to create a retail pharmacy which could be provided elsewhere.” It was also claimed the proposals would ‘exacerbate an already difficult daytime parking situation in surrounding streets.’”

The fact that surgical procedures at the hospital have been moved into portable buildings has some critics totally flabbergasted. There is always some concern when portable buildings have to be constructed and used in other areas of life – like when schools are overpopulated – but I can understand the hesitation at a hospital. Although the attempt to push this construction through has come with major support from hospital administration, there is still a wait on a decision from town officials:

In a letter to the council, Hannah Wraithe, assistant estates surveyor, said: “On the site at present are two portable buildings which are used by the doctors surgery due to the lack of space on site.

“‘This is in complete contrast to the current application which seems to suggest the health centre can lose four internal rooms in order to submit an application for a use which is not required in the area.’ A decision on the change of use application is due to be made by Chelmsford Council by June 20.”



Texas School System Purchases Modular Buildings

Modular School Buildings TexasAs the summer makes it way into most areas, people opening up their portable garages and canopies and breaking out jet skis, boats and other summer fun stored away. However, portable buildings also have another place when the summer rolls around, at least in the Texas school system, which has recently purchased a number of these modular structures for the next school year. According to Digital Journal, the buildings, made by Ramtech Building Systems, will bring the square footage of the construction to over 55,000 square feet:

“The new modular buildings, which include two offices along with the individual classrooms, will be built utilizing Ramtech’s traditional modular construction approach. The buildings will each incorporate nine wall-mounted HVAC units zoned for energy efficient heating and cooling, a factory installed 26-gauge R-panel metal siding for the exterior, and VCG walls and carpet flooring on the interior.”

These specific modular buildings are based on a number of designs that have been used in educational institutions across the country. Portable classrooms and other portable buildings have become a standard in the United States as the population has swelled in areas where quick construction of permanent classrooms just simply isn’t possible. This is true in other areas of the world as well that don’t have the funds or ability to put up school buildings.

This topic, which I have covered at length in this blog, shows how crucial the development of portable buildings and other temporary structures can be in many situations. Whether it is a portable shelter in a destroyed area or simply an area of Texas that needs more space for students, portable buildings are a necessity that can benefit many different people.

For the best in portable buildings, visit Portable Garage Depot, a leader in the sales of portable buildings, portable garages and a host of other portable storage options.



Disaster Relief & Portable Shelters

The last few years have been incredibly rough when you add up the devastation that can be attributed to natural disasters all over the world. Just this week, Joplin, Missouri, was hit with a massive storm that has left more than 120 people dead. A few months ago, Japan was shocked by an earthquake followed by an incredibly destructive tsunami that left major portions of the country’s coast completely covered by water. If you go back some years, other disasters like Hurricane Katrina and the Haitian earthquake come up.

Adding all of these disasters together shows how important relief efforts are, especially in areas that had little resources before. No matter what the economic outlook was before for these regions, there is one thing they all have in common and need as soon as possible – portable shelters. With storms leaving little to no buildings suitable to reside in and shelters overcrowding, portable shelters have become a very effective and necessary option for many seeking a place to stay in the aftermath of disaster.

For this reason, developers have been looking for new ways to make efficient portable shelters. For instance, some Rice University students have created a shelter that has a solar power element, according to the Houston Business Journal:

“The shelter recently passed its first test of livability. Rice assistant professor Brent Houchens stayed in the 140-square-foot shelter for a week beginning May 4, doing all of his cooking, cleaning, eating and sleeping within its confines. The building is powered by six 230-watt solar panels and contains a closed water filtration system with 75 gallons of water stored above and below the cabin, enough for three people to live on for three weeks.”

These types of developments are becoming increasingly crucial in the landscape of the world, both economically and socially. New types of portable buildings and structures are here to stay and will start to get more and more technologically evolved.

Protecting Yourself from Tornadoes

Over the last few years, there has been a rash of terrible natural disasters which have truly changed the way that we discuss safety during storms and other types of weather. Because of the presence of portable shelters in these disasters, we have discussed world events in this blog. This runs the gamut of everything from the tsunamis in Japan to the earthquake in Haiti, both of which had called for portable shelters. However, one thing I haven’t covered is how to protect yourself in the face of tornadoes. With the destruction recently seen in the Midwest U.S., there is no better time to look at some tips about protection:

–          Seek protection as quickly as possible even if the storm is coming quickly. Don’t’ worry about your belongings around the house, just find some type of shelter.

–          In the home or office, go to the lowest part of your home or use an inner hallway to make sure of the utmost safety.

–          Do not cover yourself but use a mattress to help cushion your surroundings if the walls begin to shake

–          Any portable building shouldn’t be used as a permanent shelter, seeing as it can be lifted up and taken away very swiftly.

–          Put an emergency first aid kit in your car in case some type of injury is sustained during an escape or trip.

–          One of the times when it is good to get out of a sheltered area is when you are parked in a car. Get out of your car and find a flat piece of land with low-lying area. Cover yourself with a blanket for added protection.

–          You should also have an emergency radio (hand crank is preferable) to get the best information available to you during a storm.

Are Portable Classrooms a New Trend?

When writing about portable buildings, you will inevitably come across a number of stories about portable classrooms that are being used in school districts with overpopulation problems. The usual solution in these schools is to add temporary buildings to the campus as a way to help herd together bigger groups of students when construction times are long and money is tight. However, as the summer is approaching, there are more reports about portable classrooms than usual, with many schools trying to build permanent spots for new classrooms before school is back in session this fall.

Sometimes though, portable buildings like classrooms and garages become permanent instead of being a temporary placeholder. According to an ABC 6 News story, a Minnesota school district is looking into buying two portable classrooms instead of continuing to rent them. The main problem lies in the location of the schools:

“Nearly 130 students currently use the two portable classrooms behind the Pine Island School, but the current lease is almost up and the district has to decide what to do with them. ‘We’re at the point now where the rate to lease becomes virtually the same as the rate to buy,’ said Superintendent Chris Bates. ‘But they are 6 years old.’

And therein lies the problem; they weren’t meant to be permanent. The district has looked at other buildings. ‘We need 5,000 square feet which virtually eliminates every piece of property in Pine Island,’ said Bates.”

New buildings are hard to build because of Pine Island’s status as a flood plain, which is generally not suitable for building whatsoever. No matter what the district decides, the classrooms, portable or permanent, need some space, because without it, the rooms have no value:

“But other than the space, the structures don’t have any long term value. Mainly, because they’re exactly what they were designed to be: temporary. ‘Sadly, temporary classrooms often become permanent…’ said Bates.”

School District Aims to Remove Portable Buildings

One of the most difficult issues for school districts to deal with is population growth in certain regions. It is very difficult to construct additions to a school building in the short span of time that summer vacation allows and even harder to do so while school is in session. A few weeks ago, I wrote about one school district that needs more portable buildings to deal with the overflow of students. This week, I found a recent story that not only shows how important portable buildings are in this situation, but that also sheds some light on the costs of maintaining these expiration date classrooms.

An article from Nola.com discusses the serious classroom crunch that the St. Charles Parish school area is having. The population of students is expected to go up by 300 as of next year, so administrators are clamoring to redistribute space for these additions. The major way that they will do this is by changing the grade levels through standardization, which will force certain grade levels to be in specific school buildings.

Once additions are completed to the schools getting the most new students, there will be the opportunity to remove the portable buildings that have been housing many classrooms over the last few years:

“[Executive Director of Physical Plant Services John] Rome said the drop in student population at those schools will allow the district to get rid of portable buildings and move the students into the main buildings. Reducing portable buildings is a goal of the district, in part because they are expensive to maintain. The new grade configurations will allow the district to eliminate about 42 portable buildings, Rome said, leaving the district with approximately 78 in 2012-13. New two-story wings will accommodate the additional students at J.B. Martin and Harry Hurst.”