The American Public Works Association, Southern California California Chapter, has awarded the City of Placentia a 2020 BEST Project of the Year Award for its Placentia Navigation  Center. The Center was submitted under the Facilities category for populations 50,000 – 100,000, and  Placentia was the only City to win a “Project of the Year” award in that category this year. The BEST  (Building Excellence Shaping Tomorrow) Program recognizes significant public works capital improvement projects and initiatives that enhance our quality of life. 

The Placentia Navigation Center is a 100-bed emergency homeless shelter providing full wrap-around services for residents. The North Orange County Service Planning Area (North SPA) is a partnership consisting of 13 Cities in North Orange County that have contributed towards the cost of constructing and operating this critical facility. The North SPA also collaborated to build a similar 150-bed facility in the City of Buena Park. 

“Placentia is tremendously proud of the work that went into the creation of this first of its kind Navigation  Center,” said Mayor Ward Smith. “Though the Center has only been open eight months, we have  already begun to see the positive effects the Center has had on our City and our homeless population.” 

Along with many North Orange County Cities, Placentia has been working on addressing homelessness and its impacts on the community. Placentia had two large homeless encampments consisting of nearly 80 people. Placentia agreed to host one of two Navigation Centers for the North  SPA and quickly began work with Totum Corp. on a design/build renovation of an existing industrial, commercial building the City had purchased utilizing grant funds. Totum’s mandate was to deliver a  turn-key Navigation Center within six months. Totum effectively managed all of the project deliverables. The City awarded multiple-prime contracts for demolition, seismic upgrades, the final building tenant improvements, and delivered the project on time and under budget, and they did so during the COVID  pandemic.  

“The City extends a huge thanks to Totum Corp. for their hard work and expertise in delivering the  Navigation Center in only six months and under budget,” said Acting Deputy City Administrator Luis  Estevez. “I have never seen a capital project of this magnitude delivered to a community so quickly,  which is a testament to Totum’s skill and dedication.” 

The impact on the quality of life to the community was immediate. The City opened the Navigation Center on March 31, 2020, and the homeless encampments were closed on April 1st and 2nd. More than 90% of the homeless individuals in these camps accepted a shelter bed and services at the  Navigation Center. Several individuals are veterans, and they have subsequently been able to move  

into the Placentia Veterans Village, a separate permanent supportive housing facility for homeless and disabled veterans in Placentia. 

“This award highlights the strong collaborative efforts of the North SPA cities in making this vision a  reality,” said City Administrator Damien R. Arrula. “The City of Placentia is proud to have our Navigation  Center recognized by the American Public Works Association for our regional collaboration to end  homelessness and enhance all residents’ quality of life.” 

For more information about the Placentia Navigation Center, please visit