Santa Ana

Santa Ana Can’t Block County From Sending Homeless to its Shelter, Judge Rules

Santa Ana sued Orange County, San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano last month, claiming the shifting of transients into the city was forcing it to take an unfair amount of the responsibility.

Homeless Emergency California
AP

A federal judge rejected Santa Ana's request Tuesday for an injunction blocking the county and three south Orange County cities from transporting transients to the temporary shelter in the Santa Ana armory.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter denied the injunction without prejudice, meaning the city could refile the motion, said Paul Eakins, a spokesman for Santa Ana.

Orange County Supervisor Andrew Do said, "I applaud the judge's decision. There was no evidence to even establish a prima facie case that the city was harmed in any way by the parties' conduct."

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According to Do, Carter noted that the consent decree that the county and northern Orange County cities agreed to "should have given the city assurances that the county has not been engaging in any of the conduct the city is fearful of."

"In fact, upon questioning, the city could not provide a single piece of evidence that showed a specific incident that the county transferred anyone," Do said.

Santa Ana sued the county, San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano last month, claiming the shifting of transients into the city was "more of the same. That is what describes the recent expectations by the county of Orange and defendant cities that Santa Ana should take on even greater responsibility for additional individuals experiencing homelessness, when Santa Ana has for decades unilaterally served as the leader in the county to relieve the homelessness crisis."

City officials complained that homeless services and shelters in the county "are sited almost exclusively in Santa Ana'' and noted the replacement for the 400-bed temporary shelter called the Courtyard in downtown will also be in Santa Ana.

San Clemente Mayor Dan Bane said Santa Ana's claims were "frivolous and unfounded," because his own city was planning to offer rides to transients to the armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton, which provide overnight shelter and are funded by the county and owned by the state.

Bane said the plan also included providing rides for the transients back to the south county cities. No one took advantage of the offer, he said.

Carter on Tuesday also gave Placentia officials permission to move ahead with enforcing the break-up of a homeless encampment in that city on Feb. 25. The judge said he wanted to give first priority to the city because it has accepted the establishment of a homeless facility in its borders that will serve transients in north Orange County.

"They should have priority,'' Carter said because Placentia officials have suffered "backlash" from residents objecting to the homeless facility.

Whittier Mayor Joe Vinatieri told Carter that his city is moving toward joining a settlement initiated by the city of Bellflower. There could be six to nine cities in the area that are also discussing whether to join the consent decree in Carter's court.

Bellflower is building a shelter with 50 beds that is expected to open in May, said Bellflower Mayor Juan Garza.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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