Audio / Video / Perspective
State Senator John Moorlach Says He'd Welcome Long Beach Support For SB 640 That Would Add Language To Current CA Law Allowing Intervention To Help Severely Mentally Hill Homeless Persons Too Ill To Help Themselves
On March 3, 2020, the City of Long Beach will hold a Consolidated Municipal Election with the Statewide Direct Primary Election at which voters will consider a ballot measure relating to the Measure A Extension Transactions and Use (Sales) Tax and subject to Council action on November 19, 2019, may consider a ballot measure relating to the City of Long Beach Transient Occupancy (Hotel Bed Tax) Measure.
To make sure there is adequate time for those interested in writing arguments for or against the measure, the Interest Form for Argument Writers is available starting Nov. 15 on the Office of the City Clerk webpage www.longbeach.gov/cityclerk/elections/ballot-measures. All interest forms must be received by the City Clerk at 411 West Ocean Boulevard, Lobby Level, Window #12, Long Beach, CA 90802, no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, November 22, 2019. A separate form must be submitted for each ballot measure.
The Mayor will announce his nominees for argument writers at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 25, 2019. The City Council will vote on those nominations at the City Council meeting on December 3, 2019.
Arguments FOR or AGAINST the ballot measure are due to the City Clerk by Friday, December 13, 2019 at 4:30 p.m., while rebuttal arguments are due by Monday, December 23, 2019 at 4:30 p.m. Arguments must not exceed 300 words and rebuttal arguments must not exceed 250 words.
For more information, please contact the Office of the City Clerk, at (562) 570-6101.
|(November 17, 2019, 9:55 a.m.) -- The fatal 2011 beating by Fullerton police officers of Kelly Thomas, a schizophrenic homeless man, awakened then-Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach to issues involving governmental interactions with severely mentally ill persons. Eight years later, despite major taxpayer expenditures and escalating governmental interactions, California cities including Long Beach continue to allow seriously mentally ill homeless persons to wander the streets, inhumanely depersonalized while creating serious health and safety issues for themselves and others.
The incompassionate and ineffective status quo has led now-state-Senator Moorlach to introduce SB 640, a bill that would add language to a current state law to enable intervention that could help severely mentally ill homeless individuals. These are persons with mental illness so severe (including schizophrenia) that the person doesn't realize he/she is ill and needs help for their safety and sometimes for the safety of others.
SB 640 would amend the "Lanterman-Petris-Short Act" - a state law that currently permits the involuntarily treatment of individuals who are "gravely disabled" -- to also include [legislative counsel's digest] "a condition in which a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is incapable of making informed decisions about, or providing for, the person's own basic personal needs for food, clothing, shelter, or medical care or shelter without significant supervision and assistance from another person and, as a result of being incapable of making these informed decisions, the person is at risk of substantial bodily harm, dangerous worsening of a concomitant serious physical illness, significant psychiatric deterioration, or mismanagement of the personís essential needs that could result in bodily harm."
SB 640 gained early support from the CA District Attorneys Association, the CA Police Chiefs Association, the City of Santa Monica, and NAMI Sacramento but drew opposition from the American Civil Liberties Union, CA Hospital Association (unless amended), Disability Rights California, Mental Health America of Northern CA, SEIU California and the Western Center on Law and Poverty.
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|At an April 8, 2019 hearing in the state Senate Health Committee (video below), Sen. Moorlach explained his basis for reforming current state law. He brought witnesses who offered compelling testimony in support of SB 640 and pleaded with Committee members to move the bill forward. The Committee chair, state Senator Richard Pan (D, Sacramento) and others among the Committee's Democrat majority politely thanked Sen. Moorlach and his witnesses but indicated they'd vote "no" on his bill, an action that would prevent SB 640 from advancing further.
Stymied for the moment, Sen. Moorlach offered to make SB 640 a "two year bill," a way to amend the bill to address stated objections. To see/hear what took place in the state Senate Health Committee hearing on SB 640, click the VIDEO below:
The Committee ultimately withheld a vote on SB 640. The bill remains in the state Senate Health Committee.
In June 2019, former LB Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez was elected to the state Senate. She is now a member of the state Senate Health Committee. LBREPORT.com reported on SB 640 in August 2019..
SB 640 faces legislative deadlines in late January 2020. By Jan. 24, 2020, the state Senate Health Committee must hear and report the bill to the state Senate floor and by Jan. 31, SB 640 must pass the full state Senate. If that doesn't happen, SB 640 will die.
In a November 15, 2019 telephone conversation invited by LBREPORT.com, we asked Senator Moorlach if Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (who doesn't set city policy) or any LB Councilmember(s) (who do set policy) or LB city staff (engaged in homeless/vagrancy issues) had contacted him about SB 640. Sen. Moorlach politely indicated that he didn't recall but also indicated he'd welcome support from the City of Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city.) That could include a Long Beach City Council resolution supporting SB 640. Any LB Councilmember(s) could agendize this for Council action "on any Tuesday."
Senator Moorlach has a robust webpage devoted to SB 640. It includes links to video and statewide coverage of the issue at this link.
LBREPORT.com invites our readers to share this article on social networks and with the offices of their Councilmembers and state lawmakers. We also invite readers who receive responses from their elected officials to share them with us for possible publication.
An April 2019 state Senate Health Committee Legislative Analysis provided details of SB 640 here:
...According to the author, California is failing its seriously mentally ill. Current law states that a person is gravely disabled if, as a result of a mental health disorder, he or she cannot provide for their basic needs for food, clothing, and shelter. This law was intended to serve as a protection to individual liberties but has created a system that, instead of helping the most seriously mentally ill, relegates them to the streets, jails, and emergency rooms. Better metrics are needed to help seriously mentally ill individuals that are simply powerless to provide for their own personal well-being. This is especially important when the absence of significant supervision and assistance leaves the individual at risk of substantial bodily harm. Clarifying the definition of "gravely disabled" will be a step towards repairing a system that is failing to serve those who need it most.
The Committee legislative analysis summarized positions on the bill pro and con as follows:
Support. The City of Santa Monica states that although the current definition of gravely disabled was intended to protect individuals from inappropriate, indefinite, and unnecessary involuntary commitments, it has created a system that often relegates those who are gravely disabled to the streets, jails, and emergency rooms, and has failed to deliver care that is desperately needed. The City of Santa Monica argues that this bill would clarify gravely disabled to more closely align with the original intent of the LPS Act and to provide care that the current system has failed to deliver.
In L.A. County's second largest city, Long Beach Mayor Garcia (who doesn't set city policy) has acknowledged homelessness is complex with multiple aspects but has tried to steer discussion mainly toward building more housing units (including below market/subsidized "affordable" housing.) In 2018, Mayor Garcia chose an "Everyone Home Task Force" that included a number of affordable (subsidized) housing developers and homeless service providers. It produced a Dec. 2018 report contending LB (parts of which are already densely populated) needs thousands of new housing units. On a separate track, Councilman Rex Richardson has been soliciting contributions (as of June 30 over $200,000) from affordable housing developers and homeless service providers for a future revenue-raising (read: tax imposing) LB ballot measure (LBREPORT.com coverage here.)
The Garcia-chosen Task Force acknowledged that a 2017 Long Beach homeless count found roughly a third (31%) reported a mental illness and 21% report a substance use disorder but its recommendations focused on housing, offering mainly conventional bureaucratic responses regarding mental illness issues. Under the heading "Increase access to Behavioral Health and Physical Health Services" the Garcia Task Force wrote:
Improving access to services is an important step to accessing housing and helping people maintain their housing once housed. In addition, our hospitals are impacted by those experiencing homelessness who have physical and behavioral health conditions. With state legislation in place that precludes discharging a person into homelessness, there is a tremendous need to increase collaboration among hospitals and community partners to access shelter and housing, as well as to increase the number of, and access to, recuperative care beds and sobering center opportunities in the City.
The Garcia Task Force recommended an agreement with LA County's Housing for Health program for "a coordinated referral program to serve the City's most vulnerable and most frequent users of City resources"; "partnering" with LA County and the State "to implement a substance use detox center, sobering center, and increased recuperative care beds and work to implement a safe needle exchange program; substance use treatment opportunities."
It also advised a "significantly increase [in] long-term mental healthcare capacity" and "to reform the conservatorship rules and processes to make it easier to get people the care they need and maintain it as long as the level is appropriate." However that measure is already in place. SB 1045, enacted in 2018 and co-authored by state Senator Scott Wiener, established a five-year pilot project in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties for "a conservatorship process for individuals incapable of caring for their own health and well-being due to a serious mental illness and substance use disorder as evidenced by 'frequent detention' for evaluation and treatment under 72-hour involuntary holds."
SB 640 would go where some in Long Beach and Sacramento haven't yet gone.
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