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Since the state adopted Senate Bill 2 in 2007, which mandates cities must establish areas of land—private or public—as potential spots for homeless shelters, the city of San Clemente never established a plan that was in compliance with the law.
On July 1, Judge Robert Moss of the Orange County Superior Court ruled in favor of Emergency Shelters Coalition, which had filed a lawsuit against the city for its lack of identification of homeless shelters in its housing element.
It wasn’t until 2014 that the city began designating certain areas for a shelter, such as the current City Hall, a parcel of land near Vista Hermosa Sports Park and other areas. That wouldn’t have prevented the city from seeking private acquisition of land, and, the lawsuit stated, the city must at least try to establish areas that would be suitable for the land.
In February, City Council was met with heavy opposition in establishing a homeless shelter near the sports park after Jamboree Housing Corporation submitted proposals for a shelter at that location. Residents came out in droves to speak during the meeting to prohibit any kind of transaction.
Ed Connor, one of the attorneys for Emergency Shelters Coalition, said because the city was only allowing for its surplus land to be identified as potential spots, it made it almost impossible for anyone to try to establish a shelter.
Connor said the city has 120 days to identify areas for a homeless shelter. City Attorney Scott Smith said the city will not make a comment on the matter until City Council has been briefed on the ruling.