By Eric Heinz
The city of Santa Ana City Council sent out a press release late Wednesday, April 25, stating that it had voted to authorize the city’s attorney to take legal action against all cities in Orange County to “compel parties to take immediate steps toward addressing homelessness throughout the County,” the release stated.
The release added that the city of Santa Ana will file the lawsuit before the end of the week.
Click here to read the full press release.
Santa Ana is arguing that it has taken in more than its fair share of the county’s homeless population, claiming the Orange County Health Care Agency found more than 50 percent of the 1,030 homeless people reported they were from somewhere other than Santa Ana after conducting its own research and survey of the homeless in its borders. San Clemente Times has requested a copy of that report.
The release said the Santa Ana City Council made the decision to file suit following the Orange County Board of Supervisors’ decision to not establish a homeless shelter in Santiago Canyon (see full story below).
“The City of Santa Ana has been a leader in addressing homelessness in Orange County,” City Councilmember Juan Villegas stated in the release. “We are willing to continue being a leader in these efforts, but we need the County and our fellow cities to be good partners. There need to be more ideas, fewer roadblocks, and more of us asking: ‘How can we collectively move forward?’ Those without homes demand better of their cities. We demand better of our neighbors.”
The release continued saying Santa Ana has tried to hold meetings with cities in the past, such as one instance in 2016 when it requested a meeting with the 33 other cities. The release stated that eight months later, only 12 of the 33 other cities attended such a meeting.
This is a developing story. More information will be provided when it becomes available.
Original Story, published in the April 26-May 2 edition of the San Clemente Times
A meeting took place on April 19 at the Ole Hanson Beach Club in San Clemente where the mayors of Orange County cities met to decide where to put a regional homeless shelter. It appeared as though they had come up with a solution and recommended that a space in the outskirts of Orange County, an old and unused elementary school, would work.
But the Orange County Board of Supervisors rejected the idea late Tuesday, April 24 after a closed-session meeting.
“I understand the urgency to house the homeless, but placing them in a brand new $6.8-million project built for families perhaps is not the answer,” said Supervisor Todd Spitzer, who represents the district where the shelter would have been located, in a statement on April 20. “Any place that has ‘Baby & Me Storytime’ should not be under consideration. In addition, the state has designated this area a ‘Very High Fire Hazard Severity Zone.’”
Southern Orange County cities have been criticized by northern cities as not doing their diligence in providing adequate space and resources for a homeless shelter. The cities of Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach pushed back against the supervisors after it was suggested to put tent encampments on county-owned land within the cities.
Last week, the nonprofit iHope took members of the press through several sites in South Orange County that could be turned into shelters. City managers pushed back on the notion and said that they have procedures already in place.
“All of us have established formal relationships with nonprofit service providers like Family Assistance Ministries (FAM) and others who have proven track records of service to our community,” San Clemente City Manager James Makshanoff said in a press release on April 20. “We will continue to work through those well‐established and community‐supported organizations to address these issues.”
The mayors sent a letter to Supervisor Lisa Bartlett stating that the Santiago Canyon site would be the best location. It wasn’t enough to garner support.
“The mayors of the South Orange County SPA (service plan area) are ready to take all steps necessary to move forward expediently with the site as an emergency homeless shelter,” a letter signed by the South County mayors stated. “The cities also understand that the court is ready to assist jurisdictions in this process should legal challenges arise. The county has direct experience in developing and implementing such a plan, having recently done so in less than 90 days at The Courtyard (former OCTA bus depot) in Santa Ana. The site’s smaller size and current improvements to electrical, plumbing and mechanical systems, should enable the site to be quickly opened.”
Developments regarding the issues related to homeless populations in Orange County have been coming at a rapid pace. San Clemente Times will provide more information as it becomes available.
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