With No Discussion, Council Authorizes City Staff To Seek $12 Mil State Grant For "Homeless Emergency Aid" By Agreeing To Suspend Strict Application Of LB Ordinances/Rules On Housing, Zoning, Health/Safety Standards, Potentially Letting Homeless Occupy Currently Unspecified Parks, Schools, Vacant or Underutilized City Owned/Operated Facilities 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. 12, 2018, 6:50 a.m.) -- With no City Council discussion, Councilmembers voted 8-0 (Gonzalez absent) to authorize city staff to apply for $12 million from Sacramento's "Homeless Emergency Aid Program" (HEAP) by declaring a "shelter crisis" that could invite a number of potential impacts for the City and its residents.

Council approval of the agenda item, which was placed on the "consent calendar" -- where it would receive no separate Council discussion unless a Councilmember(s) requested it, which none did -- has the following legal consequences:

  • Under state law, declaring a "shelter crisis" means the City 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))

  • During a "shelter crisis," 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))

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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," but to our knowledge the City of Long Beach hasn't done so at this point.

Declaring a "shelter emergency" also makes the City immune from liability "for ordinary negligence in the provision of [such] emergency housing "directly related to, and which would 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))



A city staff agendizing memo by Health and Human Services Director Kelly Calopy, reduced these results to 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 stated that the $12 million grant may be used for purposes that include unspecified "prevention, youth services, and emergency aid but not overhead or planning activities" but doesn't specify -- and no Councilmember(s) publicly asked -- what city staff considers the "most effective uses" and in what locations for spending the $12 million if City Hall obtains it.


The Councilmembers who declined to pull the item for separate discussion and voted "yes" to the collective "consent calendar" which included the item were Jeannine Pearce, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo, (Vice Mayor) Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin and Rex Richardson. (Lena Gonzalez was absent for the entire meeting.)

The agendizing memo stated: "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."



On December 5, 2017 the City Council declared 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.

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

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.

The requirement that cities declare a "shelter crisis" to receive state homeless-aid dollars was part of 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."

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