City Hall Can Get $12 Mil For "Homeless Emergency Aid" IF Council Suspends Strict Application Of LB Ordinances/Rules On Housing, Zoning, Health/Safety Standards Potentially Letting Homeless Occupy Parks, Schools, Vacant or Underutilized City Owned/Operated Facilities; What Should Your Councilmember Do? is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(Sept. 11, 2018, 6:20 a.m.) -- The City of Long Beach could receive $12 million in state taxpayer funds in "Homeless Emergency Aid" for purposes that include currently unspecified "prevention, youth services, and emergency aid but not overhead or planning activities" in locations not currently publicly disclosed IF the City Council agrees at its Sept. 11 meeting to declare a "shelter crisis," an action that could lead to various impacts for the City and its residents.

  • If the City declare "shelter crisis," it may "take such action as is necessary" if it finds "that a significant number of persons within the city "are without the ability to obtain shelter, and that the situation has resulted in a threat to the health and safety of those persons." (CA Gov't Code section 8698.2(a))

  • For example, the City "may allow persons unable to obtain housing to occupy designated public facilities during the duration of the state of emergency. (CA Gov't Code section 8698.2 (b))

  • A "public facility" is defined as "any facility of a political subdivision including parks, schools, and vacant or underutilized facilities which are owned, operated, leased, or maintained, or any combination thereof, by the political subdivision through money derived by taxation or assessment." (CA Gov;t Code section 8698(5)(c))

  • Declaring a "shelter crisis" would suspend "any state or local regulatory statute, regulation, or ordinance [including zoning] prescribing standards of housing, health, or the extent that strict compliance would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay the mitigation of the effects of the shelter crisis" and these provisions would apply only to "additional public facilities open to the homeless." (Gov't Code section 8698.1(b)) The same Gov't Code section allows the City to "enact municipal health and safety standards to be operative during the housing emergency consistent with ensuring minimal public health and safety" (something the City of Long Beach to our knowledge hasn't done to date.)
  • If the City Council declares a "shelter emergency," the City would be immune from liability "for ordinary negligence in the provision of [such] emergency housing "directly related to, and which would not not occur but for, the provision of emergency housing" but not shielded from liability "for grossly negligent, reckless, or intentional conduct which causes injury." (Gov't Code section 8698.1(a))

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A city staff agendizing memo by Health and Human Services Director Kelly Calopy, summarizes these results in a single sentence: "In making such a declaration, State law enables local jurisdictions to suspend local laws and regulations to the extent that strict compliance would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay the mitigation of the effects of the shelter crisis for any City-owned, leased or maintained property."

The agendizing memo further states: "In addition to the declaration of a shelter crisis, the City and the Long Beach CoC [Continuum of Care] must demonstrate community outreach as a part of the City and Long Beach CoC's HEAP application. To this end, and through the Everyone Home Long Beach Initiative, the City has undertaken a robust collaborative approach to identifying the most effective uses for HEAP funding. This process is ongoing and includes, but is not limited to, public meetings, CoC general membership and Board meetings, Homeless Services Advisory Committee meetings,and a review of the City's adopted homeless strategic plan and budget."



The agendizing memo doesn't publicly disclose what "most effective uses" or in what specific locations city staff is currently considering spending the $12 million in state funds if City Hall obtains them.

Amnesia File

On December 5, 2017 the City Council did declare a "shelter crisis" to suspend [agendizing memo text] "applicable provisions of local law, including those contained in the City's zoning ordinances and regulations" to authorize a temporary emergency [winter] homeless shelter at 5571 Orange Avenue between December 6, 2017 and March 31, 2018 (Council district 8.) That shelter was enabled by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA), a "joint [government] powers agency between the City of Los Angeles and Los Angeles County established to oversee homeless services county-wide,") LAHSA chose U.S. VETS to operate the LB winter shelter in the former Orange Ave. library (8th district) for the 2017-2018 program year. The Dec. 5, 2017 Council vote (motion by Austin, seconded by Andrews) was 9-0.


Sept. 11, 2018 Council action

In terms of timing, the agendizing Sept. 11, 2018 agendizing memo states:

The City expects the California Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency to begin accepting early applications for Round 1 of HEAP funds in September 2018. Awards for Round 1 early applications will be made in late September 2018, with distribution of funds beginning October 2018. Round 1 Standard applications may be submitted until December 31, 2018, with awards announced January 2019, and distribution of funds beginning April 2019. If HEAP funding remains available after all Round 1 awards have been announced, a second round of HEAP funding will be released in February 2019. To remain competitive for HEAP funding, it is recommended the City participate in the early application process during Round 1.



And who created the requirement that cities declare "shelter crisis" to get state homeless-aid dollars? State legislators did in SB 850 (a June 2018 measure that used Sac'to's notorious "gut and amend" procedure to erase the bill's original text and insert new text to avoid Committee hearings) tied to passage of the state budget. SB 850 passed the State Senate on a 31-6-2 vote with LB-area state Senators Lara (D) and Nguyen (R) both voting "yes." On the same day, it passed the Assembly a 64-16-0 vote with O'Donnell (D) and Rendon (D) both voting "yes." mindful of what declaring a "shelter crisis" could enable city officials to allow in currently unspecified parts of Long Beach, what do you want your Councilmember to do at the Sept. 11 Council meeting? Require city staff to disclose in what locations and for what types of homeless facilities it's currently considering using the $12 million if obtained? Or vote to pursue the money now and tell the public later what city officials have in mind?

As always, will carry tonight's Council meeting LIVE on our front page ( starting at 5:00 p.m.


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