How is an Anaheim ‘State of Emergency’ on Riverbed Homelessness Authorized and What Would It Do?


 Powered by Max Banner Ads 

Spitzer says yes, provide bathrooms for now for public health reasons, and work on getting homeless out of the riverbed to proper housing placements.  NOTE: this was a real-time live screen shot; his mouth being open that much was just the luck of the draw.

[SOME LIVEBLOGGING FOLLOWS BELOW]

[Author’s Note: Due to a surprise announcement at the beginning of the meeting from Supervisor Todd Spitzer, it’s unclear how many of the issues I prepared to address below will end up mattering.  (Essentially, Spitzer took some of the air out of the “emergency” status of the resolution tonight.)  I’m going ahead with it anyway, because it’s been hard writing recently and I’m not going to spike something that I completed.]

Apparently my notice about our taking a two-week break didn’t get published — it’s possible that I only imagined composing it, due to the heat delirium — but here we are again, and just in time for an Anaheim City Council meeting where the agenda calls for consideration of a Kris Murray resolution for “Operation Home Safe™” — have I mentioned recently that Murray uses the brunt of her Council aide money to hire the same PR operation that does her campaign work, rather than policy aides, and could you have guessed that anyway from the mast 40 words or so without my saying so? — in which the City would pass a State of Emergency™ resolution to empower the city to do various things that are already in progress, but would allow Murray to claim more credit for it.  Or maybe it would do other things as well, it’s not particularly clear.  Nor is it clear what legally justifies a  State of Emergency™ in the city, which is pretty important if it involves any encroachment on people’s Civil Liberties™, in order to avoid Expensive Litigation™.  (Note: OJB is not actually sure that any of the above are terms in color above are actually trademarked, but when you’re dealing with cunning public relations people it’s “better to be safe than sorry.”

Here’s the resolution, where it will presumably tell us what a State of Emergency entails, and what authorizes the Council to declare one, and with what effect:

RESOLUTION NO. 2017 – ___

A RESOLUTION OF THE ANAHEIM CITY COUNCIL DECLARING A PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO THE HOMELESS, HOMELESSNESS AND HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS WITHIN AND ADJACENT TO CITY PROPERTY AND EMPOWERING CITY STAFF TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PROVIDE NEEDED SHELTER AND SERVICES, IN CONJUNCTION WITH NEIGHBORING JURISDICTIONS AND TO PROVIDE THE NECESSARY ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS UNLAWFUL ACTIVITY IN THE SANTA ANA RIVER TRAIL, CITY PARKS, AND ON CITY-OWNED PROPERTY

WHEREAS, homelessness is one of the most pervasive challenges facing cities throughout California; and

WHEREAS, the County of Orange has significant dedicated funding set-aside for homeless
assistance throughout the County; and

WHEREAS, the homeless population in the County of Orange has increased significantly since
2015, including an increase of 54% on the Santa Ana River Trail; and

WHEREAS, based on the 2017 Point in Time Count, 28.9% of unsheltered adults in Orange
County answered yes to being released from jail or prison in the last 12 months; of that
population, greater than one in four attributed their release to Proposition 47; and

WHEREAS, local housing authorities throughout Orange County have received millions of
federal dollars to support programs assisting homeless families; and

WHEREAS, despite substantial efforts made by the City of Anaheim, non-profit and for-profit
organizations, and dedicated individuals, homelessness continues to afflict our city; and

WHEREAS, homeless encampments on City-owned and adjacent County-owned property have
reached a level so as to cause a threat to the health and security of its residents and require
immediate action; and

WHEREAS, homeless encampments, particularly those along our waterways, are a source of
significant, life-threatening health hazards that include chronic and communicable diseases, drug
use and illegal activity; and

WHEREAS, there is a level of urgency due to the fast approaching winter season and potential
impacts of rains, cold weather, and safety threats due to flooding; and

WHEREAS, the County of Orange has recently entered into a contract to provide services to
individuals residing at locations along the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) adjacent to Anaheim homes and businesses.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City of Anaheim does proclaim that the
situation described herein has become sufficiently serious that it is necessary to declare a civil
emergency and implement Operation Home Safe, a program to address the homeless crisis
within the City of Anaheim and in those areas where the City has joint jurisdiction.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City of Anaheim, under Operation Home Safe, will
immediately take the following steps to resolve this crisis, secure the safety of its residents and
property, and provide emergency resources and services to the homeless, supplementing all
existing efforts to date.

BE IT ADDITIONALLY RESOLVED that the challenge of confronting homelessness requires
the active engagement, collaboration, and leadership of all levels of government, including the
County of Orange and all 34 Orange County Cities. Accordingly, the City Council hereby
directs the City Manager to immediately:

1. Designate a single point of contact to act in a leadership capacity for this comprehensive
program;

2. Contact representatives from county agencies and each of the SART cities to convene an
emergency meeting to discuss the actions proposed by Operation Home Safe and request
support and partnership;

3. Address jurisdictional challenges to provide for the comprehensive enforcement of
general laws, ordinances and regulations, including those of the County and the Flood
Control District as currently exists or may be amended or adopted;

4. Authorize the City staff to work with the county to expedite an additional 100 beds at the
Bridges at Kraemer Place and direct staff to work with county to maintain the existing
armories that are used annually for cold weather shelter;

5. Direct the City Manager to negotiate a Letter of Understanding (LOU) with the County of
Orange and neighboring cities to conduct joint enforcement of the SART, to be approved
by the City Council;

6. Identify all available resources and make recommendations to implement Operation
Home Safe to address public health and safety in Anaheim;

7. Request the county to provide field units staffed with social workers and care providers
as well as behavioral health-receiving centers strategically located throughout the county
in order to provide proper mental health services to those in need.

8. Supplement and assist with the administration of county efforts to create a temporary,
emergency shelter to serve up to 500 people as a part of this effort;

9. Reach out to all local, state and federal homeless partnership programs; non-profit, forprofit,
volunteer networks to establish a Community Triage Day targeting resources that
will systematically address the individuals residing along the SART and utilizing the
City’s Emergency Operations Center as appropriate and permitted during this
collaboration;

10. Educate and inform all homeless individuals currently occupying City-owned property
within the City’s enforcement jurisdiction, and along the SART, that i) the City’s priority
is to provide shelter and services to assist homeless individuals, ii) those individuals who
decline to accept shelter and services and instead elect to engage in unlawful activity will
have that activity addressed through the criminal justice system when and as appropriate,
and iii) the City will work with the county to undertake and maintain efforts, to enforce
all health and safety codes and keep these areas secure, safe and free of unlawful activity;

11. Create a tactical plan to clean and repair City-owned or controlled property that has been
damaged by homeless encampments and work with the county to restore damaged
property and trails in the SART along the city border;

12. Promote the City’s existing SB2 zones, which permit by right emergency shelters, and
provide expedited building permit processing and waiving fees, to those willing to take
advantage of the existing zoning area.

13. Compile and submit monthly performance reports to the City Council.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the City Council will work with the County of Orange to
communicate its intended actions under Operation Home Safe and submit a formal request to
work collaboratively on expanded services and programs to assist these efforts and to pool
additional resources for homeless services, with the understanding that the health and safety
impacts of the homeless population is reaching a crisis situation and must be addressed within
sixty (60) days.

THE FOREGOING RESOLUTION is approved and adopted by the City Council of the City of Anaheim this ________ day of ______________, 2017, by the following roll call vote:

AYES:
NOES:
ABSENT:
ABSTAIN:
CITY OF ANAHEIM

BY _________________________________
MAYOR OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM

ATTEST:
______________________________________
ACTING CITY CLERK OF THE CITY OF ANAHEIM

Wait a minute: do any of the above actions even require emergency powers?  Which of them aren’t even actually happening right now, in the absence of a resolution?  And what difference does that resolution being an “emergency” resolution make?  It’s not clear from the above — although clearly a lot more public relations than policy analysis was used to conjure this up.

Let’s look at the Staff Report to seek answers to our questions:

DATE: SEPTEMBER 12, 2017
FROM: OFFICE OF THE CITY MANAGER

SUBJECT: A RESOLUTION OF THE ANAHEIM CITY COUNCIL DECLARING A PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY STATE OF EMERGENCY RELATED TO THE HOMELESS, HOMELESSNESS AND HOMELESS ENCAMPMENTS WITHIN AND ADJACENT TO CITY PROPERTY AND EMPOWERING CITY STAFF TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO PROVIDE NEEDED SHELTER AND SERVICES, IN CONJUNCTION WITH NEIGHBORING JURISDICTIONS AND TO PROVIDE THE NECESSARY ENFORCEMENT TO ADDRESS UNLAWFUL
ACTIVITY IN THE SANTA ANA RIVER TRAIL, CITY PARKS, AND ON CITY-OWNED PROPERTY

ATTACHMENT (Y/N): YES ITEM # 22 REQUESTED ACTION:
That the City Council, by Resolution, declare a public health and safety state of
emergency related to the homeless, homelessness and homeless encampments and
empower city staff to take immediate action to provide needed shelter and services for
the homeless in our community, and to address unlawful activity within the City and
along the Santa Ana River Trail (SART).

DISCUSSION

At the August 29, 2017 City Council meeting, Council Member Murray requested that
staff bring back a Resolution for consideration on September 12, 2017, to authorize
comprehensive services to the homeless in the city and to expand law enforcement
efforts to address the rising criminal activity associated with homeless encampments
expanding along the city border and in public right-of-way. As part of this new initiative,
Council Member Murray will also reach out to no more than two of her council
colleagues in order to closely monitor these ongoing efforts and to provide further
assistance as necessary.

According to Flood Control Data (FCC) compiled by CityNet on August 23, 2017, there
are approximately 422 individuals identified as living in the FCC from Chapman
Avenue to Ball Road alone. The report states that less than 25% of the respondents
identify Anaheim as their last permanent address, 38% of the homeless interviewed
admit to drug and or alcohol addiction, moreover 50% struggle with a disability or health
issue of some kind, and 42% identify as having a mental health concern. The homeless
population in the County of Orange has increased significantly since 2015, including an
increase of 54% on the Santa Ana River Trail. Further, based on the 2017 Point in Time
Count, 28.9% of unsheltered adults in Orange County answered yes to being released
from jail or prison in the last 12 months; of that population, greater than one in four
attributed their release to Proposition 47.

Living conditions at riverbed encampments include chronic disease, drug use, and lack
of basic health and safety provisions that risk the lives of those living there. Once the
winter storms arrive, the physical safety of everyone living in these encampments will be
at-risk. These encampments are not safe, sanitary or secure for the homeless or the
surrounding communities.

Residential and commercial areas nearby report daily property crimes, vandalism, public
nudity, and personal safety threats to residents, employees, and customers. Most recently
on September 7, there was a reported stabbing of a man near a homeless encampment in
the riverbed. There have also been reported drug overdoses and other violent crime
reports by those living there. The public safety threats and human health impacts have
reached a crisis level that warrants a state of emergency.

In order to act immediately and to activate broad services at all levels of government, the
proposed Resolution calls for a citywide state of emergency to address the health and
safety impacts that are escalating in Anaheim as a result of growing encampments. As
part of this effort, the Resolution proposes the creation a new comprehensive program
called “Operation Home Safe”, which would be implemented by the City of Anaheim to
address the homeless crisis in Anaheim and along the SART.

The proposed Resolution directs the City Manager and city staff to immediately begin
working on a number of action items. This program, Operation Home Safe, will provide
immediate, comprehensive services and aid to meet the needs of the homeless
population. It will also provide fair warning and enforcement of city laws to restore
public safety to all areas in Anaheim. Operation Home Safe will include the following:

 Designate a single point of contact to act in a leadership capacity for this
comprehensive program;

 Work with representatives from county agencies and each of the SART cities to
convene an emergency meeting to discuss the actions proposed by Operation
Home Safe and request support and partnership;

 Address jurisdictional challenges to provide for the comprehensive enforcement
of general laws, ordinances and regulations, including those of the County and
the Flood Control District as currently exists or may be amended or adopted;

 Work with the county to expedite an additional 100 beds at the Bridges at
Kraemer Place and direct staff to work with the county to maintain the existing
armories that are used annually for cold weather shelter;

 Negotiate a Letter of Understanding (LOU) with the County of Orange and
neighboring cities to conduct joint enforcement of the SART, to be approved by
the City Council;

 Identify all available resources and make recommendations to implement
Operation Home Safe to address public health and safety in Anaheim;

 Request the county to provide field units staffed with social workers and care
providers as well as behavioral health-receiving centers strategically located
throughout the county in order to provide proper mental health services to those
in need;

 Supplement and assist with the administration of county efforts to create a
temporary, emergency shelter to serve up to 500 people as a part of this effort;

 Reach out to all local, state and federal homeless partnership programs; nonprofit,
for-profit, volunteer networks to establish a Community Triage Day
targeting resources that will systematically address the individuals residing along
the SART and utilizing the City’s Emergency Operations Center as appropriate
and permitted during this collaboration;

 Educate and inform all homeless individuals currently occupying City-owned
property within the City’s enforcement jurisdiction, and along the SART, that i)
the City’s priority is to provide shelter and services to assist homeless
individuals, ii) those individuals who decline to accept shelter and services and
instead elect to engage in unlawful activity will have that activity addressed
through the criminal justice system when and as appropriate, and iii) the city will
work with the county to undertake and maintain efforts, to enforce all health and
safety codes and keep these areas secure, safe and free of unlawful activity;

 Create a tactical plan to clean and repair City-owned or controlled property that
has been damaged by homeless encampments and work with the county to
restore damaged property and trails in the SART along the city border;

 Promote the City’s existing SB2 zones, which permit by right emergency
shelters, and provide expedited building permit processing and waiving fees, to
those willing to take advantage of the existing zoning area.

 Compile and submit monthly performance reports to the City Council.

Finally, the Resolution commits the City to communicating its intended actions under
Operation Home Safe and submit a formal request to work collaboratively with the
county on expanded services and programs. The collaboration is meant to initiate a new
effort to better pool resources for homeless services, with the understanding that the
health and safety impacts of the homeless population is reaching a crisis situation and
must be addressed with immediate action.

As discussed, the proposed Resolution was developed to build upon and supplement
County and other agency efforts and programs that are already underway, bringing in
additional regional, state and federal resources, and authorize the City to take a
leadership role to restore the health and safety of impacted city neighborhoods. If
approved, it is anticipated that there will be additional costs associated with the
implementation of this new program. As part of the direction to city staff, all the
additional costs associated with this effort would be identified and brought back for
council consideration at the appropriate time.

IMPACT ON BUDGET:

The proposed Resolution asks the City Manager to identify all available resources that
can be utilized for this initiative. While some programs may be funded by county
resources, a budget will be prepared for all additional city costs needed to implement
new directives. Those costs and associated budgets will be brought back for council
consideration as appropriate.

Respectfully submitted,
Greg Garcia
Deputy City Manager
Attachment: [LINKS BELOW ARE PDFS]
1. Resolution
2. County Flood Control Channel Report (FCC)
3. County Office of Care Coordination Newsletter– August 2017

Does that answer the questions of what justifies an emergency resolution?  No, it doesn’t.

Is that a problem?  Maybe not!  It’s not a problem IF — as seems likely — this is NOT actually an “emergency resolution,” creating emergency powers and an emergency curtailment of civil rights, as well.  In other words, what saves this resolution from creating legal problems is the same thing that denies it any real extraordinary powers: it’s flat-out mislabeled, for Public Relations reasons.  So let’s keep that in mind when people vote for it.

Is it doing anything new?  No idea yet; maybe some of our larger sibling publications with research budgets can get on it!

LIMITED LIVEBLOG

Before public comments began at tonight’s meeting, Todd Spitzer made an announcement that the Board of Supervisors had taken action to direct Sheriffs to take over policing of the Santa Ana River Trail (or “SART”), which should solve some of the emergency nature of the situation by Friday.  Spitzer got booed for saying that he invited the city to invite the County Board of Supervisors to put up sanitation facilities to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis A and C.  It’s a bold and impressive stance.  Jose Moreno presses him on whether he thinks he has a majority on the BOS to vote for provision of necessary services; he does.  Spitzer adopts this as a moral issue.  Ball’s in your court, Rackauckas!  I expect that Brett Murdock will be able to step up as well.  (See what happens when public officials get challenged from the left?)

Preacher Cecil spoke first, as usual.  First post-Cecil Speaker presents some plans that

Mark Daniels notes that it would be cheaper to put up homeless in hotels than to create beds; he also touts Nancy West’s “Alfresco Gardens” plan, and challenges Kris Murray’s alleged refusal to meet from her.  Murray says she was talking to someone else — apparently for a long time, since West has been looking to talk to her for quite some time.

Speaker 4 says homeless problem on the northside is bad too, and says that Spitzer’s good comments should have come around 6 years ago.  Lots of syringes lying around deterring businesses.  Big problem around Harbor/Lemon offramp on 91; don’t want to wait 6 years for progress there as well.

Nancy West speaks next about Alfresco Gardens, which she says is often misrepresented, and speaks about her own history of overcoming homelessness.  Tait adds, after she’s done, that he sees merit in the proposal and would like a more formal presentation about it.

Renee B seeks to remind member of publid about Officer Herman Alvarez facinf upcoming wrongful death trial of Gustava Najera [sp?].  She calls for the public to be out on Friday to film officers clearing the riverbed. given that no plan as to where to put people and the “by any means necessary” language on the agenda is vague and frightening.

Lorri Galloway of Eli Home speaks next: she thanks Council for work on homelessness and asks that God bless them.

Josh Collins continues the religious theme.  He does not poop and piss in people’s yards, but has video of harassment.  Notes that keeping cameras on the police (or sheriffs in this case) is important.

Eve Garrow for ACLU — opposes the State of Emergency resolution.  Get out of framing poor people as health and safety threat.  Research shows that homeless are no more dangerous than housed people; more involved in justice system because are targeted by vagrancy laws.  People live in SART because of necessity; enforcement is pointless.  When you cite people for sleeping in public when have nowhere else to go, are violating U.S. constitutional rights.  County is spending none of its own money on housing, etc.  No one city can do it alone, but they oppose criminalization of policy solutions.  (Note: Eve Garrow and Nancy West should meet!)

Cynthia Ward speaking as a local historian: have a paid misinformation campaign — are targeting Tait and Moreno for not fixing problem 110 years in making.  Register was editorializing about this in 1907!  Land devoted to this problem was taken away and given to private enterprises.  She notes that Board of Supes have land in South County than anyone else.  Anaheim has more Section 8 housing than anyone else because have more low-wage labor!  Need leadership, not meaning being first to give press release.  Listening includes focusing on those with opposing views.  Real homeless emergency is in our response to the issue.

Victoria Michaels: thanks for “Operation Home Safe,” Murray, but why did take so long?  Just because you are rumored to run for Board of Supes?  Notes that Murray has been (I’m putting this nicely) “inattentive” for years when it came to people complaining about homelessness issues.  Some real slicing and dicing here.  Notes that Susan Price’s proposal at county level does pretty much same thing as Murray’s ordinance.  Lots of applause.  Murray responds by slamming Michaels as a continual critic who ignores her work on Kraemer and creating jobs.  It’s good to have the last word.  She says that she hasn’t declared for anything, so the inference that she’s running for anything else is false.  Also gets applause.

OK, I’m heading in, so anyone so disposed can continue liveblogging in the comments.

 


About Greg Diamond

Somewhat verbose worker's rights and government accountability attorney, residing in northwest Brea. General Counsel of CATER, the Coalition of Anaheim Taxpayers for Economic Responsibility, a non-partisan group of people sick of local corruption. Deposed as Northern Vice Chair of DPOC in April 2014 when his anti-corruption and pro-consumer work in Anaheim infuriated the Building Trades and Teamsters in spring 2014, who then worked with the lawless and power-mad DPOC Chair to eliminate his internal oversight. Occasionally runs for office to challenge some nasty incumbent who would otherwise run unopposed. (Someday he might pick a fight with the intent to win rather than just dent someone. You'll know it when you see it.) He got 45% of the vote against Bob Huff for State Senate in 2012 and in 2014 became the first attorney to challenge OCDA Tony Rackauckas since 2002. None of his pre-putsch writings ever spoke for the Democratic Party at the local, county, state, national, or galactic level, nor do they now. A family member co-owns a business offering campaign treasurer services to Democratic candidates and the odd independent. He is very proud of her. He doesn't directly profit from her work and it doesn't affect his coverage. (He does not always favor her clients, though she might hesitate to take one that he truly hated.) He does advise some local campaigns informally and (so far) without compensation. (If that last bit changes, he will declare the interest.)