By Eric Heinz

After city officials met on Monday and Tuesday to discuss the litigation regarding the homeless issues in San Clemente, city attorney Scott Smith said they will look into providing a temporary shelter in the SB2 overlay.

Smith said the city council asked in closed session that a new contract be drafted with a nonprofit to provide services at the temporary shelter, as the city awaits to see what kind of regional opportunities will be available for permanent and transitional housing.

The SB2 overlay, named after the state bill that forced the city to create it, is in two sections of the Rancho San Clemente Business Park that could house about three dozen homeless people.

Photo: Eric Heinz
Photo: Eric Heinz

Resident George Gregory gave a passionate speech about the situation at North Beach, where he’s been a resident for decades. He said the time is now to build a temporary shelter so that the sheriff’s department can enforce the laws already on San Clemente’s books. The city had to put a damper on its anti-camping laws after the Ninth Circuit Court last year ruled that cities cannot remove homeless people from public property unless they have a bed or shelter for them.

On Tuesday, federal Judge David O. Carter held the first status conference of the hearing regarding the lawsuit submitted against several South Orange County cities by Housing is a Human Right, which alleges those cities, including San Clemente, have not done enough to provide shelter for their respective homeless populations.

Because the south cities had not been officially served, most of them did not send a representative, and Carter mostly discussed the operations taking place in north Orange County, where cities are spending millions of dollars on new shelters.

Smith said the city is also looking to enter a “joint defense agreement” with San Juan Capistrano, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Hills in the litigation regarding the shelters.

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    This clip is from the public discussion of the closed session of the San Clemente City Council meeting held on April 2, 2019.

    The long-awaited reveal of a San Clemente SB 2 zone, five years in the making, identifies a state mandated zone where an emergency homeless shelter can exist by right. The Rancho San Clemente Business Park area is where any future shelter within the city would be located.

    According to the Mayor and City Attorney, San Clemente can begin enforcing its anti-camping ordinances after three conditions have been met.

    First, the funds for the shelter must be allocated.

    Second, the city must enter into contract with an operator of the proposed shelter.

    Last, the city must select a site.

    The Mayor seemed adamant about being told that these were the only three things that the city would need to do before they could begin enforcement, but let’s not forget one tiny detail mayor, the shelter needs to be open and beds need to be available for people. So, really there’s four things.

    The City Attorney announced that San Clemente had entered into a “joint defense arrangement” with San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Hills.

    No one is sure why Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Hills entered into a joint defense arrangement when neither city is named in the OC Catholic Worker lawsuit. Perhaps it’s a way for them to admit guilt by association.

    The mayor should know that he probably should be a little more careful with the terminology he uses, especially in this very delicate situation that his city is in. Calling homeless people “transients” and saying that homelessness is a regional problem requiring regional solutions, doesn’t really sound like the responsibility of sheltering homeless people living in San Clemente falls squarely on the shoulders of San Clemente. Just a thought.

    Also, one resident goes on record during public comments on the closed session matter saying that the City Council needs to be more transparent on this issue.

    In San Clemente, things happen over time. It has taken nearly five years to the day for the city to establish an SB 2 zone that was accepted in compliance with the state law.

    Transparency will probably take some work for this crew. Give them some time and before you know it, you’ll be able to see right through them!

    How’s that for transparency?


  • sounds like a big tax burden to me
    lead by a tax free church that has the core-operation of state ! constitutionally incorrect and shameful behavior by both party’s

    forced compassion is not compassion but en-slavery by a group that wont give two dead flies for our community welfare , but thru a fee base non profit ?

    i helped a scout with his project at a hot and cold food bank in santa ana and i saw mostly expensive cars and cell phones in possession of the recipients .I fear cost will run out of control for our program and others

    good luck mayor with our deficit spending maybe a shared city defense should be a shared shelter also ?

  • And by what fair standard would you apply to your contention that it is the responsibility for every resident of San Clemente to care for every person that CHOOSES to get off the bus in our city? And don’t tell me because some king (judge) said so. It is not just a regional problem but a national problem. Whatever city or community each person was born in should be mandated to take care of them, NOT the random community they choose.

    If the entire homeless population in California came to San Clemente, would it be our legal obligation to care for them? That’s absurd!

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