South Orange County city officials and Supervisor Andrew Do lashed out Tuesday at Santa Ana’s leadership for suing the county, San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano over a plan to transport transients to the temporary shelter in the Santa Ana armory.
U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter denied the city’s request for a temporary restraining order, but has scheduled a Feb. 4 hearing on the lawsuit, which San Clemente Mayor Dan Bane called “frivolous and unfounded” as well as “ridiculous.”
Bane said the plan was to offer rides to the transients in the three south county cities to the armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton, which provide overnight shelter. The armories are funded by the county and owned by the state.
“It’s always been a program accessible to all unsheltered people in Orange County,” Bane said. “We offered to take them up to the shelters and offered to bring them back to San Clemente every single day, so the notion that we’re dumping (homeless people on Santa Ana) is ridiculous, and nobody took us up on that offer.”
Do said the lawsuit was a “diversionary tactic to divert attention away from … inaction” on building a permanent homeless facility.
The city’s 200-bed Link shelter at Red Hill and Warner avenues is due to close at year’s end because the owner of the property wishes to redevelop the site, Do said.
“They (Santa Ana city officials) promised the federal court they will build a shelter, a 250-bed shelter, which is part of their settlement and they are nowhere near even identifying a site for it,” Do said.
Santa Ana officials asked the county to acquire a building at 2229 S. Yale St. for a homeless facility, but then backed out of supporting it, according to Do.
“They asked the county to move on Yale Street and now they are waffling, so they talk out of both sides of their mouth,” he said.
The supervisor said he has appealed to Santa Ana officials to provide evidence of dumping transients from elsewhere in the county on Santa Ana.
“It’s ridiculous to file a lawsuit when you have absolutely no evidence,” Do said. “They want an injunction from the court against something that’s not happening anyway.”
Dana Point officials threatened in a letter to Santa Ana on Tuesday to seek legal sanctions to recover attorneys’ fees if it is not dismissed.
Dana Point City Attorney John Funk said the lawsuit and TRO were “legally and factually baseless as they pertain to Dana Point and maintaining this action against Dana Point serves no purpose but harassment and a waste of taxpayer resources.”
Funk pointed out Santa Ana lacks even the legal standing to file a federal lawsuit against another city.
In Santa Ana’s TRO request, the city said the transporting of transients to 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.
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