The City of Fullerton, along with eleven other North Orange County cities, entered into a Settlement Agreement with the plaintiffs in the Orange County Catholic Worker, et al., v. Orange County, the City of Anaheim, the City of Costa Mesa, and the City of Orange (Case No. 8:18-cv-00155 DOC (JDE)). The joining by the twelve cities of the North Service Planning Area (North SPA) on their own volition is an unprecedented regional approach by cities in working with plaintiffs to address homelessness.
“The Settlement Agreement provides a framework for Fullerton and the other North SPA cities to enforce municipal ordinances while ensuring homeless individuals are treated humanely since the act of homelessness itself is not a crime,” stated Fullerton Mayor, Jesus Silva. “This agreement, and the regional collaboration by the North Orange County cities, helps us address homelessness by completing the two navigational centers and focusing our efforts to increase the supply of affordable housing options.”
Basic terms of the Settlement Agreement include:
- Construction and operation of two navigation centers with a capacity of 250 beds
- Enforcement of city ordinances as long as the identified shelter capacity exists
- The Settlement Agreement spells out the policies in which North SPA cities may enforce local ordinances through establishing contacts by Outreach and Engagement Personnel, to include trained police officers/Sheriffs (such as Homeless Liaison Officers), as well as spells out a dispute resolution process
- Anti-Discrimination Laws. The Settlement Agreement reinforces the need to meet all applicable anti-discrimination laws
- Release and Covenant Not to Sue. The Settlement Agreement releases and forever discharges the North SPA cities (and current and former officials) from any and all claims, etc., related to the lawsuit
- Attorney’s fees. Each side will pay their own attorney’s fees
- Non-Admission of Liability. By entering the agreement, the North SPA cities admit no liability or wrongdoing as to the claims alleged in the lawsuit
- Term. The Settlement Agreement provide four (4) years of protection under the Federal judge
The North SPA cities have a long tradition of collaborating on regional issues regarding local governance. Upon interacting with Judge Carter in the federal case, the city managers of the cities began focusing on long-term solutions to address homelessness and drafted a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to spell out the relationship of the cities with regard to two identified locations for new navigation centers. The City Councils of each city approved the MOU and gave approval for the Settlement Agreement negotiations.
“The Settlement Agreement is a great accomplishment, but it only marks the beginning of a serious effort to reduce homelessness,” stated Fullerton City Manager, Ken Domer. “Regional collaboration is key to this issue and we will see more successes based on collaboration between cities, community and faith-based organizations, the County of Orange, and our State elected leaders.”