On November 18, notices went up on trees along the Gilbert and Valencia homeless encampments in Fullerton announcing that beginning December 4, the police department would begin limited enforcement of the city’s anti-camping ordinance.
Fullerton’s settlement agreement with the OC Catholic Worker lawsuit regarding a lack of shelter beds, along with the 2018 Martin v. Boise court decision, prevent cities from enforcing their anti-camping ordinances unless there are adequate shelter beds available.
According to City Manager Ken Domer, “The limited enforcement at the Gilbert/Valencia encampment is being allowed and monitored by Judge Carter [the federal judge overseeing the lawsuit against the county] due to the City’s efforts to address homelessness through the pilot Safe Parking Program and our working with Illumination Foundation on the proposed recuperative care/navigation center.”
On October 1, Fullerton City Council voted to approve a six-month temporary “Safe Parking” program to allow for limited overnight parking for people experiencing homeless and/or families who currently dwell in their vehicles. This program began on November 12, and thus far only a handful of vehicles have been using it each night.
On November 5, Fullerton City Council voted to enter into a cooperative funding agreement with local non-profit the Illumination Foundation to provide $500,000 of City funds for the development of a proposed recuperative care/navigation center in Fullerton for individuals experiencing homelessness.
“The Judge is allowing [anti-camping enforcement] based on assurances by Illumination Foundation that they will have available beds for those currently at the encampment,” Domer said. “It is not City-wide. The Settlement Agreement allows City-wide enforcement once 200 beds are available at the Buena Park and Placentia facilities.”
Fullerton has committed funds toward two upcoming “Navigation Centers” [shelters with wraparound social services] in Placentia and Buena Park, which are scheduled to open in 2020.
Additionally, the city has opened the National Guard Armory to as an emergency shelter during the winter months.
Brooke Weitzman, a lawyer who helped bring the original suit against the county and its cities due to a lack of shelter beds, gave this statement, “Enforcement without an available and appropriate alternative would certainly violate the settlement agreement and the law. While some of the statements and notices are concerning, we remain cautiously optimistic that the City will continue to partner with their neighbors on evidence-based solutions and refrain from any attempt to push residents into neighboring cities like Anaheim or Buena Park before the shelters open. That said, we applaud any efforts the city makes to get proper assessments and appropriate placements for homeless families. If the City has solutions for even 10-15 people, we are always excited to collaborate on getting people off the streets and on track to stable housing. Particularly as it gets colder and rainier, we are excited to support steps toward solutions any way we can, even one small group at a time.”
The notice posted along Gilbert and Valencia states: “Persons camping on the public sidewalk on Gilbert St. and Valencia Dr. will be offered immediate sheltering and assessment services through the Illumination Foundation (www.ifhomeless.org). Persons refusing shelter options will be subject to enforcement.
“Outreach and Engagement Personnel will contact each person camping in violation of FMC 7.105.020. Persons accepting an offer of sheltering will be provided appropriate transportation and appropriate possessions not brought to the shelter may be cataloged and stored for up to 90 days. Persons declining offered placement will be given a warning and an opportunity to immediately leave the location before engaging in citations and/or arrest. Persons issued a citation and/or arrested may participate in the Dispute-Resolution Process as provided in the Settlement Agreement; however, representatives of the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division, will be present on December 4, 2019 to monitor and assist with matters related to the Dispute-Resolution Process.
“Enforcement of FMC 7.105.020 will occur prior to the regularly scheduled cleaning of the street and sidewalks on Gilbert St. and Valencia Dr. ALL PERSONAL ITEMS MUST BE PERMANENTLY REMOVED FROM THIS AREA BY 9:00AM. NO TEMPORARY STORAGE WILL BE AVAILABLE. The City will conduct power washing and debris removal beginning at 9:00AM. The City will provide ORANGE trash bags and trash severs prior to this cleaning. Any unattended items left on the public right-of-way (such as tents and large items) will be documented, collected a held for 90 days at the City’s Public Works yard (1580 W. Commonwealth).
For information on items not picked up and stored for 90 days, or for information about the City’s efforts please call: (714) 738-6562.
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