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By Eric Heinz 

An Orange County Superior Court judge made a tentative ruling on Friday that the city of San Clemente has not complied with an order to provide sufficient opportunities for an emergency or homeless shelter to be established.

Furthermore, the judge set an injunction on the city’s right to grant building permits in certain areas of San Clemente. These orders do not affect residential areas. The city also cannot issue zone changes or variances or subdivision maps for any community commercial, neighborhood commercial, mixed use, or industrial properties located in the following areas until the city has substantially complied with the order.

Click here to read the injunction

Since Friday, the areas where the city cannot issue such things to include the West Pico Corridor Specific Plan (including Calle de Industrias, Calle de Los Molinos, and the Staples Shopping Center); South El Camino Real; North El Camino Real; Del Mar/El Camino Real; Pico/El Camino Real; Camino Capistrano/El Camino Real; Camino de los Mares; and Los Mares/Estrella.

Click here to see the map of areas in the injunction

The city was sued by the Emergency Shelter Coalition, which is comprised of various organizations, in late 2014 because they believed the city was harboring public land slated for emergency shelters, making it difficult for potential shelter providers to successfully establish one.

In July, an Orange County Superior Court judge ruled the city was still out of compliance with Senate Bill 2, which requires California towns and cities to, through zoning, designate areas where a shelter could be built. So the City Council amended the zoning in the Rancho San Clemente Business Park, which has commercial areas, to allow for an emergency shelter.

Opponents of this decision claimed at various meetings that allowing a shelter in that area would be a fire hazard due to people camping in the grass when it’s dry in the summer; that it would be unsightly; and that the city is taking more than its fair share of responsibility for the area’s homeless population.

Currently, the city is seeking comment and suggestions from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which oversees enforcement of SB 2.

Cecilia Gallardo-Daly, the city’s community development director, said the city submitted its housing element revisions to the HCD but have been waiting for the department to return its findings and comments.

Gallardo-Daly said HCD has 60 days to produce comments to the city and that the judge was amenable to waiting to see what the department says.

“We did find out they (HCD) had completed a preliminary review and will be taking a look at those comments this week, so we’re hoping something will be forthcoming later this week,” Gallardo-Daly said.

So far, Gallardo-Daly said the city’s building and permitting departments have not said there has been a large backup or delay in permits requested.

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comments (1)

  • OC Superior Court is just a puppet here. The real issue here is how inept our state government continues to be. Instead of tackling the problem head on our state government just mandates that the local counties and cities have to deal with it — without one cent from the state. That’s not leadership, it is called passing the buck.

    The state leaders in Utah took a direct approach by addressing it instead of tossing it over the fence to counties and cities with no funding like California is doing.

    Here are two articles about it:

    The solutions that Utah implemented reduced the homeless population by 90%. Other states have learned from Utah and implemented their own state-level programs based what was learned from Utah.

    The homelessness issue has exploded across the country and is continuing, because of a worsening economy and the absence of leadership at the federal level. We are now under new management at the federal level and hopefully, the economy and the homeless issue will benefit from it soon. To make it worse our governor refuses to accept the severity of this problem –

    Other states have learned from Utah and followed in their footsteps. California should be doing the same instead of trying to build the bullet train.

    Utah and other states that are working to help the homeless at the state level have done so without a one size fits all approach. In the process, they have found that homeless is a blanket label and that differentiations are needed. This way they can obtain the help that is needed for these people that are homeless because of underemployment, mental health, etc.

    To resolve any issue we must look at the root cause and where possible learn from what others have done successfully. To really help the homeless is must be run at the state level. To do otherwise would simply cause the homeless to overwhelm the capacities of local efforts.

    So what are the state leaders in California doing? Deflecting. Instead of following in the footsteps of successful solutions other states have implemented they are adding laws forcing local counties/cities to do what the state doesn’t want to do with no funding whatsoever.

    So if you want to talk about what is actually broken and how to fix it you need to go to the root cause of the issue. In this case, it is the California state leaders that are setting the precedent of ignoring and discriminating against the homeless.

    The downstream effect of all of this is this lame back and forth cities have to endure with poorly crafted state laws that ignore the root causes of issues.

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