• Roger Butow

    Thanks VoOC for posting the actual NOI filing in a previous column a few days ago.
    The local Laguna media are beginning to post the Friendship Shelter’s (FS) leadership response (A Press Release) online: It basically matches/mirrors the ACLU filing. Read both and see if you concur.
    My home for 43+ years, Laguna has a habit that a lot of governance agencies do: Only when hit with litigation or threat thereof does any movement or more intense, refined dialogue leading to permanent cures occur.

    California River Watch filed a 60-day Notice of Intent regarding chronic Sewage Spill Overflows (SSOs) in June of 2014. Among the laundry list CRW demanded was more monitoring, expedited timeline for rehab of our common antiquated waste collection system, including noxious H2s odors mostly along/near Coast Highway.

    My eco-NGO, CLEAN WATER NOW, has been demanding the same laundry list of grievances for over 15 years, we just never sued. Maybe we should have?

    After 120 days, CRW formally filed in federal court because the City tried to stonewall instead of instigate remedies.

    VOILA! Nearly 1 year later, the case still progressing, the City on April 22nd this year “found” $35 million for a 10 year capital improvement program of guess what? Increased monitoring and rehab of our system, including $$$ earmarked for super-oxygenators at our pump relay stations, the sources of the rotten eggs odors that innumerable residents have complained about for over a decade.

    Litigation, like a weapon, is/should be a last option for resolving disputes. Unfortunately, Laguna hasn’t fulfilled its vows to create a permanent homeless facility. The FS in fact pointed out that a few months ago the City Manager John Pietig (who has presided over/supervised the same wastewater system degradation) informed them that the City couldn’t be of any assistance at this juncture.

    So once again: Warned repeatedly, requests specifically made regarding lapses/deficiencies, and the City turns “turtle,” i.e., pulls back into its shell awaiting incoming, predictable litigation. Constantly reminded, it’s cheaper to be non-compliant, to be in denial. $$$ buys time, there are benefits to deferring, to non-compliance

    Meanwhile, in both the cases of the FS AND the SSOs, the City’s legal representation Rutan & Tucker are in a feeding frenzy, what attorneys laughingly call a “billing bonanza.” They invoice by the hour, and the longer these things stretch out the more $$$ they make.

    And why should they or the City Manager care? It doesn’t come out of their pocket, now does it?

  • Aesir

    Laguna Beach should not be forced to provide shelter for more homeless per capita than surrounding Orange County municipalities. The town already operates one of the only year-round shelters in the county, which has only exacerbated the problem by attracting an inordinate amount of homeless to the small town. And the additional shelter proposed by Friendship Shelter makes absolutely zero sense if your goal is to help the most homeless. Laguna Beach has some of the highest property values in the United States, meaning you will get the least amount of shelter per dollar spent versus other locations. So these groups clearly have ulterior motives in their insistence that they build the county’s largest homeless facility in Laguna Beach.

    • lagoona

      This comment is not based on facts. Your assumption that the ASL “attracts an inordinate number of homeless” people is wrong. Laguna Beach has its share of homeless just as other coastal communities do. Just because the real estate is expensive doesn’t absolve this town from helping its homeless residents. In fact, a permanent home that includes wraparound supportive services would mean 40 people would no longer no homeless, plus another 35 or so who need temporary shelter would have a safe place to shower, get a meal, and sleep. How does this not make sense?