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Council to consider homeless sleeping quarters

An area along Laguna Canyon Road may be designated as soon as Oct. 1 as a place for the city’s homeless population to sleep at night.

The City Council will consider on Tuesday the Advisory Committee on Homelessness recommendations that include establishing the north end of the parking lot by the old Digester Building as a temporary location for the homeless to sleep. The structure is located near the end of Laguna Canyon Road where city employees now park.

It will cost an estimated $210,000.

The proposal is a response to a lawsuit filed by the ACLU that argued that unless the city offered a place for the homeless to sleep, prohibiting them from sleeping on city beaches, in parks or on street benches violated their civil rights.

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If the temporary location is approved, preparations will begin immediately to enforce the California state law 647(e) that prohibits illegal lodging on public property as soon as the location is functioning.

The program is similar to the Day Labor site on Laguna Canyon Road, which was established to keep day workers from congregating on street corners near residential neighborhoods.

Recommendations also include a direction to staff to report to the council additional alternatives if the proposed area is overwhelmed with sleepers.

A $10,000 appropriation is suggested for “Project Homecoming,” which would limit the program to the homeless who were living in town on Sept. 1 of this year. City Manager Ken Frank would be authorized to spend the money and work with the Laguna Relief& Resource Center to coordinate transportation to bus depots and rail lines, as needed for qualified homeless to take advantage of the program.

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The city will continue to support Orange County’s Homeless Court program.

Staff will be directed to schedule another review of the recommendations at the Nov. 3 council meeting.



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