Things have temporarily quieted down on the homelessness front, so allow me to provide an update on my recent efforts in the Senate.
I am a joint-author for SB 1004 (Weiner) and assisted in presenting the bill two weeks ago before the Senate Health Committee (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Right to Peaceably Assemble — April 13, 2018). This bill will provide Mental Health Services Act (Proposition 63) funding for early prevention and intervention for children with a mental illness. This is an appropriate focus for this revenue source. For a first-hand opportunity to see how critical this niche is, please ask to visit the pediatric ward for psychiatric services (see https://www.choc.org/programs-services/mental-health/). You will be amazed.
I am also the joint-author of SB 1206 (De Leon), which I also presented to the Senate Health Committee last week (see MOORLACH UPDATE — The Joys of Presenting Bills — April 24, 2018). This is the “No Place Like Home” ballot measure that we hope to place on the November ballot. Obtaining funds by borrowing against a reliable revenue source will provide funding for permanent housing with support services for mentally ill homeless individuals.
My concern for the homeless population continues. The most recent discussion that is developing in Orange County is the effort to organize the 34 cities and the County in establishing a Housing Trust to build 2,700 housing units throughout the County for homeless individuals that will blend in and provide necessary supportive services. Norberto Santana, Jr., Editor of the Voice of OC, provides his perspective in the first piece below.
The second piece is from the Orange County Breeze and provides a perspective on the Sanctuary State topic. The Orange County Breeze serves the Cypress/Los Alamitos area and this issue has become a major subject of concern.
It was well past midnight on the last day of the 2017 Session, when SB 54, the Sanctuary State bill, came up for a vote. I thought this bill encapsulated that entire year. The whining, the showmanship and the caustic rhetoric was pervasive. So SB 54 was probably the perfect capstone for last year. Consequently, I stood up and shared my brief thoughts (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yQZqhzCTYMk).
Could OC Use a Regional Housing Agency?
Jamboree Housing Corp.
A Jamboree Housing Corp. development in Anaheim, known as Diamond Apartment Homes, which has permanent housing and mental health services for formerly homeless people. Representatives of the OC cities’ association and Orange County United Way cited it as an example of the type of housing that would be built under the 2,700 units plan.
By Norberto Santana, Jr.
Orange County business and civic leaders are smart to push for the creation of a new regional housing construction agency that can actually build affordable and permanent-supportive housing across our region.
Continuing to wait on the Orange County Board of Supervisors to come up with effective regional governing policies for critical quality of life challenges like homelessness and housing is proving to be a dangerous gamble.
The explosion of homeless encampments – alongside the Santa Ana riverbed, near Angels’ Stadium and at the county civic center – is a stark testament to county supervisors’ ignoring the issue, year after year.
County supervisors’ hasty eviction effort for riverbed homeless earlier this year landed them in federal court and has since left all Orange County cities under threat of having their anti-camping ordinances invalidated by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter.
In addition, their inability to get affordable or permanent supportive housing projects built across Orange County in recent years also has many questioning whether the County of Orange should be the lead agency on any future housing effort.
Given how poorly county supervisors have performed on homelessness, I think there’s only one way that Orange County ends up supporting an affordable housing bond.
Get the money out of the hands of politicians.
That’s why it seems to me that these smart business and civic leaders are moving now to see if they can craft state legislation to create some sort of regional housing construction agency.
We will have to work hard as a community to ensure that any kind of regional housing agency in Orange County is very, very transparent – in real time – to ensure that funds don’t get squandered. That means ensuring authorizing legislation sets that kind of standard and administrators that create that kind of culture.
Now, there was some hope that supervisors might create a housing commission to manage a regional vision and strategy on housing construction.
That never materialized.
According to several sources I interviewed, an interesting model to look at is the City of San Diego Housing Commission – which provides rental assistance, addresses homelessness and creates affordable housing.
In Orange County, there are two sites – already in public ownership and with appropriate zoning – that would be gems in a regional housing strategy.
There’s the 100-acre county-owned property in Irvine near the Great Park that is already in a SB2 zone, which allows fast development for homeless shelters. Note that early land use plans for the Navy transfer of the former El Toro Marine Air base centered heavily around homelessness.
There’s another 100-acre property in Costa Mesa, the Fairview Developmental Center, which has been zoned institutional for 50 years and has already been used as a setting for mental health treatment. Fairview is currently owned by the state and State Senator John Moorlach – for years, the lone advocate on homelessness on the board of supervisors – has introduced legislation advocating the transfer of Fairview to local public ownership.
Both properties could easily see development plans and projects created that are consistent with community standards and would quickly create a solid regional system to combat homelessness.
An Orange County Affordable Housing Construction Authority could mirror the model utilized at the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) where board members are a mix of county supervisors and city officials.
Except, I would issue the challenge to organizers to include more private sector people and non-politicians on the board of directors as opposed to the approach at OCTA or even worse the Orange County Fire Authority, which is such a big board of politicians that the agency doesn’t get good governance or direction.
Notice that earlier this month, when Orange County Supervisors were asked at their public meeting about the potential of supporting state bonds for housing construction, virtually none supported the effort.
In March, The Kennedy Commission called on supervisors to support an affordable housing bond for the Fall 2018 election.
“With local funds the County of Orange will be in a position to leverage significant federal and state resources to help address our current housing and homeless crisis,” wrote Kennedy Commission Executive Director Cesar Covarrubias. “With the 2017 Housing Package, the State of California is making a significant investment to address homelessness and provide affordable housing. But these state funds will only be available to counties that make similar investments to help leverage funding.”
Given everything the board of supervisors has been through on homelessness in court – exposing the utter weakness of the county system of care and permanent supportive housing – supervisors still don’t have a strategy or even an interest in finding resources to build relevant housing.
In fact, the only time during the county public discussion on housing that County Supervisor Michelle Steel even spoke up was to register her opposition to future state housing bonds. Supervisor Todd Spitzer publicly pulled up the bill setting up the statewide bond (SB2) on his phone and was critical.
Politicians politick. They can’t help it. It’s part of their DNA.
But it doesn’t get anything done.
And we should all wake up to that fact.
Recent poll shows majority of Californians support sanctuary for undocumented immigrants
By Shelley Henderson
The results of a recent poll by the Institute of Government Studies at UC Berkeley show a strong division among California voters on the so-called sanctuary law, with 56% of respondents favoring sanctuary and 41% opposing (3% were undecided).
Faced with a poll like this, the first thing to seek out is how the questions were asked. Here is the text of the two questions:
Last year California passed a state law that provides sanctuary to undocumented immigrants living in the country and limits cooperation with federal immigration officials who are attempting to deport these immigrants. Generally speaking, do you favor or oppose this law?
Some cities in California have passed local laws that attempt to opt out their communities from the new state law. If local officials in your city were to propose to opt out your community from the state’s new law providing sanctuary for undocumented immigrants, would you favor or oppose it?
This targets the California Values Act (SB 54) and the ordinance enacted by the City of Los Alamitos that resulted in an ACLU lawsuit — without saying so right out loud.
The questions paint the scene so as to make federal authorities (read: the Trump Administration) as targeting all illegal immigrants. Practically speaking, ICE tried to pick up illegal aliens already in the custody of local authorities in order to deport them because, beyond the local legal trouble, they were in the country illegally and thereby subject to deportation.
To my knowledge, Los Alamitos is the only city to have passed an ordinance “to opt out” of the California Values Act. That ordinance actually states that the City views the federal Constitution as supreme over Sacramento puppeteers.
All other entities — cities plus at least two counties, Orange and San Diego — have voted to support the federal lawsuit, which actually calls out three different State laws:
SB 54 restricts how local law enforcement communicates with federal immigration authorities. AB 103 directs the California attorney general to inspect facilities where the federal government is detaining immigrants in the state. And AB 450 penalizes California employers who give Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents access to employee records or some areas of businesses without a warrant or subpoena.
In any case, I think that the poll would show different results with questions less sympathetic with the California Legislature’s sanctuary mania.
Further, seeing the circus after the City of Los Alamitos swore fealty to the United States Constitution, who would want their own city to open itself to political pumpkin-chucking and an ACLU lawsuit? Little Los Alamitos has maybe two-days of attorney fees accumulated in a GoFundMe appeal. The municipal budget won’t support prolonged litigation. It is inevitable, without outside help, that the tiny city (population 12,000) will have to concede the legal bullying, not on principle but for lack of funds.
Poll internals for the first question
The news release about the poll includs breakdowns for answers to the both question above.
Most interesting is that just about everybody has an opinion. The “I dunno” segment is tiny — a mere 3%.
Democrats wildly support the California Values Act. Republicans even more strongly oppose it. Those with no party preference lightly favor it, with a higher percentage of undecideds/don’t knows.
That big split was loudly displayed at the most recent Los Alamitos City Council meeting. Partisans on both sides deployed tactics to drown out the other side. Drums? Check! Megaphones? Check! Folk songs? Check! Amped band? Well… I think supporters of the sanctuary law outdid the opposition on this particular tactic.
Neither those in favor nor those opposed were addressing moderates in a way that might convince rather than bully or beat down. The poll shows that moderates mildly favor the California Values Act, 52% to 43%.
Poll internals for the second question
As with the first question, everybody has an opinion.
Of further interest is that those with no stated party affiliation break 42% to 50% in opposition to a local ordinance like that in Los Alamitos. That split carries the question into majority opposed territory — something Democrats alone couldn’t reach.
As you might expect, Democrats heavily oppose a local ordinance, 19% to 75%. Republicans even more heavily approve, 85% to 13%.
The mushy middle — political moderates — are evenly split.
And it is again coastal California against inland California: coastal counties heavily oppose (38% to 56%) and inland counties favor (53% to 42%). Orange County continues its historical anomalous identity among coastal counties.
Votes for SB 54
For the record, Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-72), and State Senators Janet Nguyen (R-34) and John Moorlach (R-37) voted against SB 54.
State Senator Josh Newman (D-29) and Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-65) voted in favor of SB 54.
Senator Newman faces a recall brought about because he (and Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva) voted in favor of increasing the state gas tax.
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