MOORLACH UPDATE — Funding OC’s Homelessness — March 18, 2018

Yesterday morning I decided to sit in on Judge David Carter’s homeless hearing for a brief period. I have been working with Judge Carter as a liaison with the state and its efforts to find funding for the homeless.

I have recently met with Elaine Howle, the State Auditor, to review her most recent audit report on the status of the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) created by Proposition 63 in 2004 (see http://www.auditor.ca.gov/pdfs/reports/2017-117.pdf).

This past week, as a follow up, I also met with Toby Ewing, the Executive Director, of the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission to corroborate the audit findings (see http://www.mhsoac.ca.gov/).

The audit report found some $2.5 billion in unspent funds to assist those with mental illness has accumulated since the passage of Proposition 63 in 2004. This is the case for all 58 counties and the state. There has been a paralysis and lack of leadership by the Department of Health Care Services as to what and where these funds can go, frustrating all parties.

Both of these meetings were disconcerting. I am no longer an executive who can provide guidance and direct staff to get something accomplished. I am now a legislator in a state so large that managing it is next to impossible. You thought Caltrans was messed up. Well, serious improvements can also be made to the Department of Health Care Services, which directs MHSA funding (see http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/mh/Pages/MH_Prop63.aspx).

I now must provide directives through legislation. Fine, but I am only allowed 20 bills per year. And, my executive brain is screaming in a legislator’s body. So, one of my bills this year is to establish an executive position to help run this state, SB 1297, but more on that at another time.

I dropped by the hearing after it had been proceeding for about an hour, but Judge Carter brought me up front and I listened to his reactions to various components of the State Auditor’s MHSA audit report. He also provided PowerPoint slides showing various pages. His lecture also included available locations, with Fairview Developmental Center being the most prominent one that he was aware of (see
MOORLACH UPDATE — Burning Year End Issues — December 15, 2017). The audience cheered in applause when it was recommended.

Judge Carter had invited Mayors and City Managers to be present and then, around 11 a.m., took them for a tour of the nearby bus depot, a location that I worked to provide as a roof for the homeless while still a County Supervisor. In the meantime, it has been made available and currently has some 400 residents! Due to other commitments, I left midway through the walk. The Voice of OC provides their take in the first piece below.

It was a Federal Judge that may have started this dilemma with the mandate for the State of California to reduce its inmate population. Instead of building more prisons, which is cost prohibitive thanks to the high cost to staff them with the providing of public safety defined benefit pensions and other employee benefits, the Governor backed and signed AB 109, Public Safety Realignment, in 2011, which released supposed nonviolent inmates prematurely to the 58 counties. The ironies continue. But, I digress.

As you know, after reviewing my recent ten volume series, cities are not flush with the cash needed to address this immediate housing requirement for the homeless.

The media is picking up my recent study on the fiscal well being of California’s 482 cities. The Orange County Breeze provides a reaction concerning its marketing sphere of influence in the second piece below. The Bakersfield California provides its local perspective in the third piece. Chino and Chino Hills are noted in the Chino Champion in the fourth piece below. And Fox and Hounds rounds out the topic in the fifth piece.

The MHSA provides a funding opportunity and I worked side-by-side with President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon in 2016 on the passage of AB 1618, “No Place Like Home,” to securitize this tax revenue source (see http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/mh/Pages/MH_Prop63.aspx). We announced the initiative at Skid Row in Los Angeles (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Governor’s 2016-17 Proposed Budget — January 8, 2016)

Senate President pro Tem Kevin de Leon even allowed me to provide input on constructing the bill. It passed and was signed into law, but has not been implemented because it is tied up in Sacramento County Superior Court on validation concerns. (One would wish that Attorney General Becerra would push the courts to help our homeless instead of constantly fighting the Trump Administration, but I digress.)

Senator de Leon is trying to request $2 billion from the Governor, which would be replaced once the bonds are issued. This would start the process of counties submitting grants for immediate housing construction now. I also informed the President pro Tem to tell the Governor that there are $2.5 billion in funds that can be used as collateral for the cash advance.

Federal Judge Expands OC Homeless Housing to Include Longtime Santa Ana Civic Center Camp

By THY VO and SPENCER CUSTODIO

https://voiceofoc.org/2018/03/federal-judge-expands-oc-homeless-housing-to-include-longtime-santa-ana-civic-center-camp/

SPENCER CUSTODIO, Voice of OC

Homeless people congregate in the Plaza of the Flags at the Santa Ana Civic Center on March 17, 2018. About 150 people live in tents and make shift structures at the Plaza.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter expanded the scope of his inquiry into homelessness at the Santa Ana riverbed Saturday pushing city and county officials during a day-long federal court hearing to also agree to relocate the roughly 150 homeless people living in the Santa Ana Civic Center.

County Supervisor Andrew Do, before a crowd of activists, homeless people, county officials and city managers from across the county, struck a decidedly different tone than he has in the past.

“We don’t have a defense. I’m going to be the first to own up that we have failed,” Do said at the start of the hearing, to loud applause. “To lead requires we are proactive and not reactive, and we have failed.”

Carter held the hearing at Santa Ana City Hall, where just outside, hundreds of homeless people have camped for more than a decade, although numbers have dwindled after the recent opening of an emergency shelter nearby. The Civic Center is part of Do’s supervisorial district.

Carter has taken an unusually active role in pushing collaboration and negotiations between government officials and attorneys for the homeless. The hearing was called Saturday to resolve complaints, part of a federal lawsuit against the county, that former riverbed homeless people being moved from motel rooms have not been given adequate services and housing options by the county.

Attorneys for homeless people cited examples of people with serious medical problems and disabilities who cannot sleep in a shelter, or who rely on a spouse or partner as a caretaker. The medical and detox beds offered by the county often do not allow people to be housed with their partners.

For example, Shane Allen, a man who is confined to a wheelchair after a stroke who also suffers from stage 4 cancer, has a weakened immune system and cannot live in a shelter, said attorney Brooke Weitzman. As Allen also depends on his wife as a caretaker, sending them to different shelters would be an unnecessary emotional burden, Weitzman said.

Allen waited to testify at the hearing through the late afternoon, when he was taken to a hospital by paramedics for heart issues.

After several hours of negotiation, attorneys for homeless clients and for the county came to an informal agreement.

Over the next week, the county will continue to relocate nearly 600 former riverbed homeless, most now in motel rooms, as their 30-day maximum stays begin to expire.

People who can prove the need for privacy and individualized housing may be, pending approval by the county, allowed to stay in motel rooms for additional time.

“This is not a blanket extension of all motel vouchers,” said Do, who called the extension of motel stays a “big concession.” “If we feel there are cases that warrant closer examination…we are willing to extend the motel vouchers for those individuals, on a case-by-case basis.”

No more than 100 people will be moved out of motels each day, so the attorneys for the homeless – Weitzman and Carol Sobel — won’t be overwhelmed as they monitor the process.

Carter has also required the county to turn over information to Weitzman and Sobel about each person relocated from the riverbed and where they will be placed after their motel stay. The attorneys, with permission from each individual, will have access to clinical evaluations conducted by the county.

People will be given 48-hours notice before they are relocated.

“We will see how this works,” said Sobel. “Frankly, I think they’re going to run out [of shelter space].”

Do said the county has identified $70 million in funding from the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) that will be made available to address homelessness, although he declined to give further details about that funding when asked by a reporter.

A recent audit report released Feb. 27 by the State Auditor’s office found local health agencies statewide have “amassed hundreds of millions in unspent MHSA funds.”

More details about that funding will be announced at a special meeting of the Board of Supervisors at 9 a.m. Monday, where supervisors will discuss additional services and housing options for homeless people.

Although Saturday’s hearing was called to address the future of former riverbed homeless people, Carter expanded it to include the Santa Ana Civic Center, where at least 150 people still sleep each night. He pointed to a murder that occurred last week and a woman who was raped the night before.

“I haven’t told you until today that I am adamant of getting rid of this degradation in the Civic Center. I’m going to put more stress on the system, and if you’re not going to do it, I’m going to write an opinion,” Carter said Saturday morning. “Got it? It’s not ramping down, it’s ramping up.”

Carter announced Saturday night the city of Santa Ana and the county agreed to begin a “dignified and humane movement of people” from the Civic Center area. The Santa Ana Police will work with county social workers to clear the area with a similar strategy used at the riverbed.

Beginning Sunday, women living at the Civic Center will be offered immediate shelter at WISEPlace, a women’s shelter with a contract with the county.

County CEO Frank Kim said the county and city have not worked out details of when and how they will begin to move people out of the Civic Center.

Carter was largely complimentary of county officials, praising Do and county Supervisor Todd Spitzer for their leadership. He also thanked the Sheriff’s Department, Health Care Agency workers and Weitzman and Sobel for facilitating a peaceful clear-out of the riverbed encampment.

The county began clearing a massive homeless encampment from the Santa Ana Riverbed on Feb. 20. By the following week, officials said all people on the riverbed had been moved to motels and other shelters, and closed the riverbed to the public on Feb. 26. No one was arrested for refusing to leave the area.

On Saturday, Carter called on cities to step up and contribute to solutions.

“Each of your cities doesn’t want this problem to land in your city,” Carter told the audience, which included city managers and representatives from the most of the county’s 34 cities. “Maybe our constituency would understand that if…it’s one way to solve it is if everybody steps up.”

State Sen. John Moorlach, (R-Costa Mesa) who is sponsoring a bill in the state legislature to determine the use of the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa, also was invited to the hearing by Carter.

Homeless advocates are eyeing the large property as a potential site for permanent supportive housing for the homeless or a mental health facility. The 114-acre developmental center, owned by the state, is slated to close in 2021.

Moorlach also has worked with state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) to support legislation, signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July 2016, that creates $2 billion in bond proceeds to fund housing for the homeless. The bonds would be repaid with funding from the Mental Health Services Act, although use of the money is still pending court approval.

De Leon also spoke by phone with Carter Saturday morning before the hearing, the judge said. Moorlach, in a phone call with a reporter Saturday night, said he is working with De Leon to find other funding sources to address homelessness.

Meanwhile, Carter rebuked cities that have moved homeless people out of their cities and into other cities, especially those “dumping” them off at the Civic Center.

“If hypothetically there is dumping, moving of human beings from one city or another, you’ve created a problem, not only in terms of loading up the riverbed, but you’ve created a problem for cities like Anaheim and Santa Ana,” Carter said.

He said if anyone wants to claim dumping isn’t happening, they would be called on to prove it under oath.

“Be very careful what your accusation is, in terms of not taking some of these folks back into your communities that are pristine and virtuous,” Carter said, pointing to a representative from the U.S. Attorney’s office who he had invited to the meeting. “But if anyone wants to play the [body camera] tapes, I’m asking for a Justice Department investigation.”

Carter paused, and the room was silent for a moment.

“That silence means we’ve forgiven and forgotten and it never happens again,” said the judge.

Contact Thy Vo at tvo and Spencer Custodio at scustodio.

Senator John Moorlach ranks California’s 482 cities for financial soundness

http://www.oc-breeze.com/2018/03/14/118553_senator-john-moorlach-ranks-californias-482-cities-for-financial-soundness/

Which California cities are in financial distress and which are sound? Today State Sen. John Moorlach releases the first edition of his new report, “Senator John Moorlach Ranks California’s 482 Cities for Financial Soundness.”

The report examines the audited finances of the state’s 482 cities. Specifically, it looks at each city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and the per-capita share for a city’s Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP.

A negative UNP shows a city has fiscal concerns that city officials should be aware of. If they are not aware of the problem, this is a useful tool for the city residents to hold their elected officials accountable.

“Why the project?” Senator Moorlach asked. “Well, in the California Senate I carried some eight public employee pension reform measures in 2017 alone. And did the cities come to testify in support? No. And, are they now highly concerned about their predicament? Yes.”

Senator Moorlach plans to update the study every six months.

A copy of the study is available on Senator Moorlach’s website by clicking HERE.

If you would like to request an interview with Senator John Moorlach, please contact John Seiler at john.seileror 714-662-6050.

About Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa):

State Senator John Moorlach represents the 37th district of California, is a trained Certified Financial Planner and is the only trained CPA in the California Senate. He gained national attention 23 years ago when he was appointed Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector and helped the County recover from its bankruptcy filing – at the time the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Follow him on Facebook & Twitter.

This article was released by the Office of Senator John Moorlach.

Editor’s Note: Of the 482 cities in California, Cypress ranks in at 33, and highest among the cities in Orange County. It is the only Orange County city in the top 50. La Palma is ranked 104, Stanton at 150, Seal Beach at 201, Buena Park at 302, Los Alamitos at 328, followed closely by Garden Grove at 330.

 

Worth Noting: Historical Society holding St. Patrick’s Day Walking Tour

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/community-briefs/worth-noting-historical-society-holding-st-patrick-s-day-walking/article_0f6b1904-27f2-11e8-b21d-e78293185de9.html

California Senator John Moorlach has ranked California’s cities based on financial soundness and Bakersfield ranks closer to the bottom of the list than the top. Bakersfield was ranked 289th out of 482 cities.

Here & There

http://www.championnewspapers.com/opinion_and_commentary/here_and_there/article_3a6b15c8-2932-11e8-87a4-c32aa67d628a.html

In State Senator (37th district) John Moorlach’s ranking of 482 California cities for “financial soundness,” Chino Hills came in at 154 and Chino came in 104. Both cities fit into what he described as the “positive part of the curve.” Mr. Moorlach based his rankings by dividing the city’s unrestricted financial position by the city’s population.

Ranking California’s 482 Cities for Financial Soundness

Senator John Moorlach

By Senator John MoorlachCalifornia State Senate, 37th District

Which California cities are in financial distress and which are sound? I am releasing the first edition of my new report, “Senator John Moorlach Ranks California’s 482 Cities for Financial Soundness.”

The report examines the audited finances of the state’s 482 cities. Specifically, it looks at each city’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, and the per-capita share for a city’s Unrestricted Net Position, or UNP.

A negative UNP shows a city has fiscal concerns that city officials should be aware of. If they are not aware of the problem, this is a useful tool for the city residents to hold their elected officials accountable.

Why the project?

Well, in the California Senate I carried some eight public employee pension reform measures in 2017 alone. And did the cities come to testify in support? No.

And, are they now highly concerned about their predicament? Yes.

I plan to update the study every six months.

An op-ed specifically looking at Orange County’s cities also is online in the Orange County Register, “Most Orange County city finances bleed red ink.”

This e-mail has been sent by California State Senator John M. W. Moorlach, 37th District. If you no longer wish to subscribe, just let me know by responding with a request to do so.

Also follow me on Facebook & Twitter @SenatorMoorlach