Santa Ana Residents Unite Against Proposed Homeless Shelter

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Andrew Galvin

In late June, Dora Lopez received a flier in the mail from the city of Santa Ana, letting her know the county government was considering putting a homeless shelter in an industrial area less than a mile from her home.

Lopez figured officials were seeking "opinions" as "a first step" toward deciding where to place such a shelter. But at a July 2 community meeting, she learned Orange County was already in late-stage talks to buy a building near McFadden and Grand avenues.

"There was a knot in my stomach," she remembers. "I was so angry I couldn't even hold my emotions."

She was one of just a handful of neighborhood residents who attended that meeting, which drew mostly county and city staff and people from nonprofits that serve the homeless.

"They were saying about how this was going to enhance our community, how we were so fortunate to be part of this wonderful project to help the less fortunate," Lopez says. "Even the simplest questions--give us the exact address--they couldn't even tell us. It was totally insulting to myself and my husband and the few [members] of the community who were there."

At the meeting, Lopez spoke up: "I'm not a bad person," she said, asking the county and city officials who were leading it, "Do you live here? . . . It's not going to happen in our neighborhood. Put it in the Civic Center."

Finding a location for a homeless shelter is a vexing task for any local government. Neighborhood opposition is automatic; just about everyone says they support helping the homeless, but they don't want a shelter near their home.

Recognizing this, the state Legislature in 2007 crafted a law aimed at neutralizing opposition from NIMBYs, or residents taking a stance of "not in my back yard." Authored by former state Senator (now Los Angeles councilman) Gil Cedillo, Senate Bill 2 requires cities across California to designate zones where shelters can be located "by right"--that is, without requiring further steps that give NIMBYs a chance to pressure elected officials. Cedillo, who earned a reputation as a champion of the working poor and immigrants, wanted to remove obstacles to placing homeless shelters beyond downtown LA's Skid Row.

The SB 2 process is now playing out in Santa Ana, but NIMBYs haven't disappeared. More than 300 people attended an Aug. 19 meeting at which Lopez and other opponents got their message out.

The warehouse where the county plans to open a 200-bed shelter is on East Normandy Place. Close by are densely populated, low-income apartment communities, including Cornerstone Village, Bishop Manor and Cedar Evergreen--home to many immigrant families. Those leading opposition to the shelter come mainly from neighborhoods of single-family homes slightly farther from the site, including Madison Park and Wilshire Square.

Orange County remains one of the largest municipalities in the nation with no year-round public shelter. Since the 1980s, the county has sponsored two cold-weather shelters, which operate from December to April at National Guard armories in Fullerton and Santa Ana. The county's goal is to replace the two armories with at least two year-round shelters that would offer on-site health and social services.

Last year, the Santa Ana City Council designated industrial areas within the city as "by right." County officials then chose a location in one of the city-approved zones. The Board of Supervisors, in a 5-0 vote on July 15, approved purchasing the Normandy Place site and the 23,220-square-foot warehouse that sits on it for $3.6 million. The result? A pissed-off neighborhood that feels it was kept in the dark and targeted because its residents are largely Latino and poor.



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152 comments
Memo Versatile
Memo Versatile

@Oscar Arreola I have never ever seen a homeless harm anyone. I have seen ignorant people beat up homeless while they record it and/or post it on social media, and it comes up on the news far too often! Do yourself a favor, if you really worry about children go to: http://www.familywatchdog.us/ and enter your zip code so that you can see the 'real picture' - sexual predators live in homes - not homeless!! #Ignorance #Bigotry

Luis Antonio SA
Luis Antonio SA

Send them to Irvine Anaheim hills or Costa mesa first!!there are enough homeless people in Santa Ana. ..it's bad enough Irvine p.d. picks up their homeless and drop them off at the Santa Ana border line

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t

"The City of Costa Mesa is mathematically bankrupt, there is no job creation going on here". - Mayor Jim Righeimer


Costa Mesa announces $700 MILLION dollar surplus (then holds a party for itself that cost taxpayers $500,000+ and then hid the receipts.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t

"The community advocate read widely about recent mobile-home park closures in the area. She learned about Anchor Trailer Port a few streets away, where 43 spaces for mobile homes had been replaced with new homes now selling for prices starting in the mid-$700,000s". - And Obama is a Community Activist. ha ha ha ha ha - "This town needs an enema".

$700.000 for an box style apartment on a salary of $9.00 per hour, now someone please tell me what is wrong with this picture. Yeah that is right on the dime, we don't make enough money doing menial tasks that the city leaders and others don't want to do. So raise the minimum wage because we can't even pay our rent. Yes I know the old story they are not for rent (why?) they are for sale but no one but the rich can afford them. I've heard that Mayor Jim Righeimer is associated with Taylor Morrison that is building those ugly eyesores on Old Newport Blvd.

Oscar Arreola
Oscar Arreola

People dont get it til happens to them live in santa ana homeless are already here go downtown follow piss smell u find them and that shelter going to be close to a lot of elementary schools whant ure kids being around people could cause them harm fk no

Jonathan Smith
Jonathan Smith

Because they wouldn't serve a purpose in communities where there aren't homeless people to shelter.

Robert John Bell
Robert John Bell

Better someone else's house than your own I guess. Well playing kick the can only takes you so far, so far from a solution.

Akela Lolani
Akela Lolani

It's not about not helping homeless that's not the point here, the thing is that why does SANTA ANA have to be the location for even MORE homeless shelters?? Why doesn't irvine open some or Newport Beach?? Why some cities and not all would be my point of view

Pancho Panthera
Pancho Panthera

If people are so upset they are protesting then welcome them to your neighborhood hood. Petition they build a shelter in your neighborhood. I'll be the first to sign that petition.

Montanez Ruby
Montanez Ruby

I believe the fight is not about housing the homeless....but which person will be allowed. The cold weather shelters do ease the problem. ...however sex offenders and persons on parole or probation are among the this population. ...even roaming the streets is a risk ....MHA is located on Main and Warner in santa ana....have you seen CVS and McDonald's. ...it's gone to the shits.....also the bike trail is full of trash and stench of urine and feces ..... a family friend was attacked walking home from school in the middle of the day.....the cry for concern isn't the shelter but the population that will be accessing the shelter.....don't get me wrong it's a good idea....just approached wrong.

Ricky Deezo
Ricky Deezo

I'm ashamed. this is some real bullshit. this is NOT UNITY. THIS IS GROUP STUPIDITY

Crystal Riley
Crystal Riley

Jerry Vazquez, When did we get invaded? By who?

Memo Versatile
Memo Versatile

I saw some people from this community speaking on the news that are opposing to this shelter, it made me sick to know people (most with no formal education) don't want a homeless shelter in an area where people can barely speak correctly and/or in public?!?!! Go figure WHY they have so many homeless... Perhaps "lack of education" and know how to make a simple speech, many didn't even have a legitimate reason to oppose to this much needed shelter! #Inhumane #Intolerance #Ignorance

Fernando Herrera
Fernando Herrera

You're right Jerry Vazquez, we normally don't give a rata's ass.

Martha Arciniega Schiller
Martha Arciniega Schiller

Yep...I believe in God alright. No need to tell him. He already knows. He knows all. The truth is the truth.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

I'm not buying that Mexicans are against this. Maybe a few but I think its the media just trying to make us look bad.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

I'm not buying that Mexicans are against this. Maybe a few but I think its the media just trying to make us look bad.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

I dont mind helping them but dont give me the they fought for my freedom thing. When have we been invaded?

Peterg Solo
Peterg Solo

Pinchi raza culera.... You have to humble yourself in this life...

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

I dont unite against that. You that are against shelters say that to god when you meet him.

Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

if you believe in god say that to him when you meet him

Martha Arciniega Schiller
Martha Arciniega Schiller

Lets face it..poor, moderate and rich folks don't want these type shelters in their neighborhoods. No one wants them. That's the truth and I don't blame them.

Manuel John Perez
Manuel John Perez

I agree the homeless have to live somewhere, but I wouldn't want it next door to me either. My girlfriend has a park next to her condo where homeless gather. Between the mess, crazy people yelling in the middle of the night, people defecating everywhere, and syringes just thrown on the ground or in bushes, I would hate to see what its like living near a place they are actually invited to. And to everyone talking crap on these people fighting against the shelter, the reason they targeted this poor mexican neighborhood was they already knew you didn't want it in your neighborhood. But poor mexicans usually just accept what ever is thrown at them. I bet the City was shocked to see them stand up and speak out.

Felipe Mejia
Felipe Mejia

Democracy is just for Rich people and corporations, poor working class and homeless bite the dust as usual.

Mariely Mendoza Bravo
Mariely Mendoza Bravo

How can they do that considering what theyre ancestors, grandparents and even parents went through to come into this country?

Ask a Mexican
Ask a Mexican

The homeless don't want to live where I live—a PO Box!

FFO1939
FFO1939

Poor Gustavo, he will no longer be living in Santa Ana. I feel sorry for him. 

Katelin Ran
Katelin Ran

so everyone wants to help the homeless, but not that much? where do you suppose they put them? on an island somewhere?

Elsa Lopez
Elsa Lopez

I just hope that those that are against never have to the need of using one of the homeless shelters they are so against...

Joshua F Sanchez
Joshua F Sanchez

Just goes to show you that us Mexicans discriminate too.

Beatrice Briseño Carreon
Beatrice Briseño Carreon

I am not from the area, but here in San Antonio, they put a large homeless shelter in a poor Hispanic neighborhood. They have pride in their homes and this is what has happened since they built that facility. The argument is not assimilation, but why do they always put these type of facilities in poor hispanic areas.

Efren Rodz
Efren Rodz

It's not about a homeless shelter coming in close proximity to a poor side of town, it's about not being informed of the decisions already made. This always happens to the poor, they have no voice in decision making when it comes to politics.

Andres Estrada
Andres Estrada

What does it matter u already have gangs taggers and drug dealers there. What Mexicans r to good to have homeless in there neighbor hoods.

Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir
Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir

Why can't we just close down the stupid golf courses and build more homeless shelters on them? It's not like we need to take up so much land with acres upon acres of heavily watered lawns just so some people can hit a little ball with a stick to a hole that's very far away. (Props to Carlin, again!)

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t

and I have a Christian notebook that says in it that no person has ever seen God so that means that this God person doe not exist because there is no one real person that is called God. He does not exist.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Class envy?  Sniff, sniff, whine, whine, whimper, whimper.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

Noone's stopping you from buying a golf course and giving it to a bunch of mentally ill bums and drug addicts. Go for it.

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