The good news is that this week the city of Santa Ana has adopted Senate Bill 2 zoning, including “sufficient capacity for at least one year-round emergency shelter.” The disappointing news, for me, is that the SB 2 zoning does not appear to include the most obvious location for a year-round emergency shelter, the former bus terminal across the street from the County’s Hall of Administration and the most significant homeless population in the County. I would call it a missed collaboration opportunity for the city of Santa Ana and the County of Orange to humanely manage this population with a year-round multi-service center that would include temporary overnight sleeping, medical provisions, job seeking services, and other assistance to provide work and permanent housing. I hope the city’s alternate plans will work and I wish them all the best. The Voice of OC covers the topic below.
Santa Ana Council Approves Zoning for Homeless Shelters
By ADAM ELMAHREK
The Santa Ana City Council Monday night approved zoning to allow homeless shelters around industrial areas of the city, a move that puts the city into compliance with state legislation.
Under the new zoning, shelters are allowed in industrial areas but not within 500 ft. of “residences, parks, child care centers or schools,” or 300 ft. of another shelter, according to a city staff report. The shelters would have to exist within half-a-mile of a transit stop, the report says.
The staff report states that emergency shelters with over 30 beds or people nightly would require conditional use permits. The ordinance also allows one large shelter – which would offer multiple service, hold between 150 and 200 people and be open 24 hours — “by right” to replace the city’s National Guard Armory, which only operates from December to April, the report says.
SB 2, passed by the state Senate in 2008, requires that cities and counties allow shelters and transitional housing for homeless people, including at least one large facility.
But even with that law in place, Orange County is among the few large metropolitan areas in the nation that do not have a permanent, year-round shelter.
Local officials have been particularly hostile toward efforts to establish permanent shelters. In June, the Fullerton City Council rejected a proposal pushed by county Supervisor Shawn Nelson to build a permanent shelter on South State College Boulevard in the city.
And Santa Ana leaders last winter rejected a suggestion by Supervisor John Moorlach to open the city’s vacant bus terminal to homeless people rather than force them to sleep on the sidewalks in front of it.
As things stand now, homeless people from all over the county converge at the civic center – the county government hub at the heart of Santa Ana — primarily because there are services and daily free meals. They frequently receive citations for sleeping in the civic center and violating the city’s camping ban.
A “point-in-time” homeless count in 2011, the annual one-day effort to identify the number of people living on the street in Orange County, found that 20 percent of the county’s homeless population – 1,388 people