I was interviewed recently by Rick Reiff of Inside OC, and the topic of homelessness came up (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Inside OC, Part 2 — May 7, 2018). We had such an engaging discussion, that he made two shows out of our session.
Because I’ve been working on this issue for years, I did a little search of my blog. Here are entries from just the last six years that included the topic in the title, going from most recent to oldest:
And I could provide plenty more on the subject that did not include the word “homeless” or “homelessness” in the title.
You would think that I was either obsessed or passionate about the subject. And, I do not mean to bore you with this difficult matter. But, I do focus on more than pension reform and unrestricted net deficits.
This includes working with an incredible coalition of organizations to address this concern (see MOORLACH UPDATE — AB 448 — July 8, 2018). Something is happening in Orange County, and it’s positive. So, when someone of stature casts aspersions, it calls for a response.
My rebuttal is provided in the OC Register with the piece below.
AB 448 would help solve Orange County’s homelessness crisis
People living on the Union Pacific Railroad easement along I-5 between Brookhurst Street and Euclid Street clear their belongings in Anaheim on Tuesday, Mar 13, 2018. The railroad is clearing the track away of homeless encampments. (Photo by Jeff Gritchen, Orange County Register/SCNG)
Living in Orange County, I see the same things you do: homeless people on street corners, in front of stores, even on the front lawns of our homes.
That’s why I have been working with other Orange County civic, business and charity leaders to deal with this crisis in ways that protect our citizens while humanely housing the destitute.
I’m co-authoring Assembly Bill 448, a bipartisan effort to give all of Orange County’s 34 cities, and the county, a seat at the table to coordinate spending of existing and future dedicated homeless funds. The housing trust would unite our cities in one coordinated voice to better obtain Orange County’s fair share of taxes.
When we cooperate and focus, Orange County’s leaders have a legacy of accomplishing great things, such as:
• The Orange County Transportation Authority, representing equally all five supervisorial districts.
• The Mosquito and Vector Control District, on whose board I served for six years, directed by the 34 cities and the county.
• The Transportation Corridor Agencies and the Orange County Fire Authority, directed by all impacted cities
There are forces that are encouraging more resolve in this critical area. One major driver is a federal judge. Consequently, this is the time for a leadership opportunity.
The Orange County Grand Jury recently released a report, titled “Where There’s a Will There’s a Way: Housing Orange County’s Chronically Homeless.” Its conclusion: “Nothing can be accomplished without leadership and collaboration between the County and cities.”
AB 448 takes a conservative approach to homelessness:
• No new taxes.
• Private sector involvement, especially from local mission-oriented charities.
• Efficiencies in obtaining funding from Sacramento.
Done properly, the homeless community will be assisted. Best of all, it will free our parks and public places — and our front lawns — for you and your families, by helping the homeless get treatment for their mental and other illnesses.
I’m hoping this will be a model for other counties to follow.
For all these reasons I was dismayed to read Supervisor Michelle Steel’s recent column, “Orange County Housing Finance Trust unnecessary at best.” She claims AB 448 “will take away local control, and grow the size of government, to build large scale homeless and subsidized government housing in your backyard with your hard-earned dollars.”
This is not leadership. This is classic NIMBYism and fearmongering.
She insists, “[T]his proposal increases the cost of market rate housing by designating land that could build more homes for government subsidized ‘affordable housing’. AB448 won’t make housing more affordable, it will create new government debt and a greater financial burden for the residents forced to pay for it.”
Sadly, these assertions are false. In fact, the trust would claim state money our taxpayers already pay, not add even one Lincoln penny to existing levies. As to the market price of homes, it’s Economics 101: Increase the supply and the price will go down. The demand is there from the homeless; the question is whether we meet the supply.
State laws passed last year in the 2017 Housing Package, such as Senate Bill 35, mandate more local housing construction. And federal Judge David O. Carter continues reviewing county homeless policies. If the housing trust is not enacted, the county and our 34 cities could lose all control over solutions.
Ironically, the good Supervisor claims the bill “doesn’t actually do anything.”
Steel’s only constructive suggestions are to “overhaul” the California Environmental Quality Act and “our current tax system … . Even Gov. Brown has recognized this problem, but has only proposed streamlining for politically favored projects,” meaning sports stadiums.
I long have supported and continue to support reforming CEQA. But Brown soon will be gone. Tellingly, one of his re-election planks was CEQA reform — way back for his re-election in 1978, 40 years ago. We can’t wait another 40 years.
As to tax reform, right now the formidable task is repealing the recent new taxes, such as the gas tax.
I urge Orange County’s charitable citizens to back AB448, which was introduced by Democratic Assemblymembers Tom Daly of Anaheim and Sharon Quirk-Silva of Fullerton; and is also co-authored by Republican state Sens. Pat Bates of Laguna Niguel and Janet Nguyen of Garden Grove. Compassion dictates that we pursue a vision for the entire county and act as one community for all of our residents.
John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, represents the 37th District in the California Senate.
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