MOORLACH UPDATE — Homelessness Press Release — March 29, 2018

So a County Supervisor calls a State Senator and makes an inquiry. The Senator meets with a couple of colleagues for suggestions before the Spring Break. The Supervisor issues a press release to announce the exchange on his inquiry.

There is no plan. There is no intent. There is only an inquiry about a state facility that is in the process of closing.

This was the justification for a special city council meeting? A press release? I get NIMBYism. I get fear of the unknown. I get change.

But, holding a meeting about nothing?

I’ve provided a podcast on this topic, expressing my hopes that Judge David Carter finds the wisdom to come up with a solution to the stir he has created at
https://soundcloud.com/senator-john-moorlach/costa-mesa-let-cooler-heads-prevail/s-VsAIx.

For television reports on last evening’s meeting, go to http://www.foxla.com/news/local-news/costa-mesa-city-council-discuss-heated-issue-of-housing-the-homeless and http://abc7.com/news/3276564/.

Since I have been having fun this week with CBS 2/KCAL 9, I’ve provided their report in the first piece below. It can be seen at http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-orange-county-homeless-fairview-council/.

Again, I did not float a “plan.” If anyone has something in mind, it’s Judge David Carter, who mentioned Fairview during his hearing of March 17. Don’t lose your focus. I responded to a fair and honest inquiry.

The OC Register and the Daily Pilot provide perspectives following the meeting in the next two pieces. And if that is not enough on this subject, My News LA also provides a pre-meeting thorough analysis in the fourth piece below.

BONUS: There are other topics to discuss. Tomorrow’s UPDATE will cover the one that is being tweeted today by CalMatters at the conclusion below.

OC Homeless: Costa Mesa

Gets Their Turn To Say, ‘Not

In My Backyard’

http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-orange-county-homeless-fairview-council/

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — A fired up crowd in Costa Mesa let city leaders have it Wednesday, the latest town to sound off on plans that could involve their community taking in dozens of homeless people recently displaced from an Orange County riverbed.

Costa Mesa is the latest city in a growing list of municipalities caught up in an ongoing saga of where to put hundreds of transients who had been living along a stretch of river going from Santa Ana to Anaheim.

Earlier this week, Orange County supervisors rescinded a plan that would have housed some homeless in tents in the cities of Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel after complaints from residents.

Another plan that was floated by State Sen. John Moorlach involved turning the soon-to-be shuttered Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa into housing for about 100 homeless people. That did not sit well with residents there.

Wednesday’s meeting came about after O.C. Supervisor Shawn Nelson seemed to go along with Moorlach’s proposed plan. At the meeting, a spokesman for Nelson backpedaled the earlier statement, saying the supervisor was not suggesting Fairview as an option, but that the city council should decide.

At least one woman at the meeting voiced her approval for the plan, but the majority of folks present balked at the idea.

“I am disappointed in what you have done to our city, and my silence stops now,” one woman told the Costa Mesa City Council. “I have trusted you. You have let me down continuously. Vote no on this, get the sober living homes out of my city and turn it back to what it was,” the woman continued to thunderous applause at the emergency meeting inside the Costa Mesa Senior Center.

Some residents tie the seemingly untenable homeless crisis in the area to the explosion of sober living facilities.

“We have to call it what it is. It’s not a homeless problem, it’s an addict problem, and until we treat it as such, it’s not gonna go away,” one man told the council.

“I can tell you in my neighborhood it is commonplace for us to witness all kinds of measures, including the sober living folks among the homeless, exposing themselves to, literally, women and children, used syringes and literally shooting up,” another man echoed.

The city council voted unanimously against the Fairview proposal.

Costa Mesa is opposing proposal for homeless shelter at Fairview Developmental Center

By TOMOYA SHIMURA

https://www.ocregister.com/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-is-opposing-proposal-for-homeless-shelter-at-fairview-developmental-center/

COSTA MESA — About 300 people showed at a special City Council meeting Wednesday, March 28, to discuss a proposal to turn the state-run Fairview Developmental Center into an emergency homeless shelter.

The meeting continued into the evening with more than 50 people speaking on the plan proposed by Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson and state Sen. John Moorlach. The council decided after about three hours to oppose the plan.

“It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected,” Mayor Sandra Genis said.

Most of the speakers opposed the plan, saying they already suffer from homeless problems and an abundance of sober living homes in Costa Mesa and they don’t want to turn their community into a Skid Row.

Some, however, said the city should do more to help the unfortunate, and housing homeless people is a good use of Fairview, which is set to close in 2021.

Nelson’s proposal is in response to U.S. District Judge David O. Carter’s demand for the county to find appropriate shelter for what could be a few hundred homeless people. Carter is overseeing a civil rights lawsuit filed by homeless people against the county.

The county board proposed creating tent cities in Irvine, Laguna Niguel and Huntington Beach to house 400 homeless people, but supervisors quickly rescinded the idea Tuesday after public backlash.

“Partnering with state Sen. Moorlach provides an additional boost and momentum to establish another temporary transitional homeless shelter for the county’s homeless population,” Nelson said in a press release announcing the plan.

City officials criticized Nelson for not reaching out to them before issuing the news release on Friday, March 23. Nelson, whose district doesn’t include Costa Mesa, wasn’t present at Wednesday’s meeting.

Supervisor Michele Steele, whose district includes Costa Mesa, didn’t make the meeting either, but her representatives said she opposes Nelson’s plan.

City Manager Tom Hatch said Costa Mesa already does more than its share to help the homeless. The city has hired several employees to work with the homeless and spends more than $1 million a year to support them, Hatch said.

Costa Mesa council opposes using Fairview Developmental Center as emergency homeless shelter

By LUKE MONEY

http://www.latimes.com/socal/daily-pilot/news/tn-dpt-me-cm-fairview-meeting-20180329-story.html

Less than a week after a proposal from an Orange County supervisor and a state senator sent shock waves through the community, Costa Mesa City Council members voiced unanimous disapproval of using the local Fairview Developmental Center as an emergency homeless shelter.

In front of a fuming crowd of more than 300 on Wednesday evening at the Costa Mesa Senior Center, council members said they think the city is already doing more than its fair share to provide services and resources to the homeless and that other cities — as well as the county — need to step up to the plate.

“It’s time for our supervisors, our county, our federal and state officials to demand that the rest of the county cities start participating in taking care of the homeless that live in their communities and not taking them to Santa Ana or to Costa Mesa or to Tustin,” Councilwoman Katrina Foley said. “It is important that we all participate and, if we all participate and we do our fair share, it’s a lot less of a burden and impact on every community.”

Of the dozens of residents who spoke at the special council meeting, most opposed the idea, saying they were concerned that developing a shelter at Fairview would jeopardize public safety, reduce property values and unduly burden the city.

Not everyone was against the concept, however. Some said the 114-acre property at 2501 Harbor Blvd. could be an important cog in a regional strategy to tackle homelessness.

On Friday, Supervisor Shawn Nelson issued a news release announcing that he and state Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa) were looking into the potential for using the state-owned Fairview site as an emergency homeless shelter.

The release also raised the possibility of “centralizing temporary housing and basic services for the homeless” at the developmental center, which opened in 1959. It currently provides services and housing to 133 people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the California Department of Developmental Services.

But in its resolution of opposition, the City Council called that a “regrettably rushed” idea proposed “without any public input or concern for local impacts.”

“This is land in the middle of the city; it’s governed by our general plan,” Mayor Sandy Genis said. “It’s our police that are going to be responding … it’s our paramedics that are going to be responding. It’s our residents, it’s our businesses that are going to be affected, and we can’t have the county just throwing that out there.”

Neither Nelson nor anyone from his office appeared to be at Wednesday’s meeting — a fact that didn’t go unnoticed among those in attendance.

“I hope that all of you will collectively address this spineless supervisor that essentially threw this grenade into a crowded room and couldn’t even bothered to show up to defend what he’s proposing,” resident Sue Lester said.

However, county Executive Officer Frank Kim told the council that he spoke with Nelson’s office Wednesday and was told “they do not support the use of the site without the cooperation of the council and input from the community.”

Nelson’s office could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday morning.

Kim also conveyed a message to the council from Supervisor Michelle Steel — whose district includes Costa Mesa — that “her office absolutely does not support the use of Fairview for [a] homeless shelter” and “the long-term use of that site should be discussed and worked out in collaboration with the city.”

Supervisor Todd Spitzer said during Wednesday’s meeting that he was “dismayed that somebody would put this into the public arena in such an irresponsible fashion” and is “terribly, terribly sorry that any respectable elected official would put something this derelict and dangerous into the community … without any input whatsoever.”

“To combine that in light of what happened last week in Orange County was beyond the pale to me,” he said, referring to the Board of Supervisors’ vote to develop temporary homeless shelters on county land in Huntington Beach, Irvine and Laguna Niguel. Supervisors scuttled that plan Tuesday in the face of opposition from residents and threats of litigation from the cities.

Like similar facilities around California, Fairview is scheduled to close as part of an effort to transition people out of institutional-style centers and into smaller accommodations that are more integrated into communities.

The goal is to move the center’s remaining residents to other living options by 2019, according to the state.

luke.money

Costa Mesa Objects to Proposal for Homeless Shelter

https://mynewsla.com/orange-county/2018/03/28/costa-mesa-objects-to-proposal-for-homeless-shelter/

A proposal to use a state-operated center for the developmentally disabled in Costa Mesa to house the area’s homeless was blasted Wednesday by city leaders.

“The Board of Supervisors are trying to shirk their own responsibility by putting the burden on the cities that are already doing more than their fair share on homelessness in Orange County,” said Costa Mesa Councilwoman Katrina Foley. “It was irresponsible of Supervisor (Shawn) Nelson to just throw out this idea of putting a tent city at Fairview Developmental Center. He clearly doesn’t understand the clientele that currently lives there.”

Nelson shot back, “That is an ignorant statement,” saying he never proposed erecting large tents to house transients at the site.

The scrum erupted a day after Orange County supervisors withdrew plans to consider “sprung structures,” which are large tent-like facilities that posh hotels often use to handle overflow from ballrooms at weddings and other special events, to house the homeless.

County officials earlier this month asked staff to look into the feasibility of using tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel for emergency shelter for transients moved off the Santa Ana riverbed and at the Plaza of the Flags next to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana. If the sites were viable, then county officials were going to negotiate terms with the cities.

Leaders in the three cities, however, immediately erupted with outrage and vowed to sue, prompting the county to back down.

Nelson said Costa Mesa officials’ worries about the Fairview site were premature, though he conceded that he asked Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, to ask state officials if it was possible to house transients there. State officials have plans to close the facility by 2020.

“We don’t have a plan, tent, balloon, nothing,” he said. “They have dorms there and we thought, hey, is there any scenario, is there any way we can use it.”

The idea originated at a March 17 court hearing presided over by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing a lawsuit that led to a settlement in which transients were recently moved out of encampments along the riverbed into motels. Those motel stays were expected to be completed Wednesday with all of the transients wishing further services housed elsewhere.

Carter has since turned his attention to clearing out the encampments in Santa Ana’s civic center area next to the courthouse.

Nelson complained that any suggestion of operating emergency shelters anywhere in the county is met immediately with opposition from “NIMBYs.”

“Everyone thinks we should do something about the homeless, but no one wants the beds,” Nelson said. “Meanwhile, Santa Ana and Anaheim have been shouldering this for years. It’s unfortunate, but you get this visceral reaction which makes it really difficult to have a conversation because the entire conversation is spent defusing false narratives.”

The Fairview center has dormitory housing and not all of the beds are being used, Nelson said.

Foley accused county officials of hoarding grant money that could have been spent on the homeless for years.

“Maybe they need to use the millions of dollars at their disposal” to address the issue, she said.

Last year, Foley said city officials asked for funding from the county for homeless housing “and they came up with a whole bunch of excuses how we can’t get the funding.”

Carter, Foley noted, showed county officials recently that the county has $70.5 million available to provide housing for mentally ill transients. Supervisor Todd Spitzer recently criticized county staff for assuring the board the money wasn’t available for homeless housing.

“In three years, we’ve placed 53 residents into permanent supportive housing,” Foley said. “We’re now serving more than 150 (transients) so we’re doing our fair share and then some.”

Councilman Jim Righeimer agreed.

“The citizens of Costa Mesa are doing more than their fair share to handle the homeless issue for the county, and for the county to think now they can dump the homeless problem on us is not right,” Righeimer said.

Righeimer and Foley criticized Nelson for issuing a news release on the Fairview proposal before contacting Costa Mesa officials.

“They didn’t come to us,” Righeimer said. “I found out about it in a PR release on a Friday night. (Supervisor) Michelle Steel didn’t even know about it, and it’s in her district.”

Nelson said the county is not hoarding its funding for the homeless. He said the county has devoted $193 million to projects supporting the homeless.

“There was no chipmunking,” Nelson said.

It’s true that county officials did not immediately make use of the funding as it came in.

“Too conservative? Maybe, fair enough,” Nelson said. “But we’re certainly spending that built-up reserve and spending more than we’re taking in now.”

In related news, Spitzer and Irvine Mayor Don Wagner announced Wednesday afternoon that they are pursuing “fast-track opportunities for veterans and women’s permanent housing at the county-owned West Alton parcel” at Irvine Boulevard and Alton Parkway.

County officials have plans to develop the property for residences for seniors and multiple-family housing. Wagner and Spitzer want to tweak the plan to include permanent housing for veterans and abused women.

Wagner and Spitzer intend to tell Carter about the plan at the next court hearing Tuesday, where he will discuss his plans to move transients out of the Santa Ana civic center.

CALmatters‏ @CALmattersFollowFollow @CALmatters

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