As you are aware, there is a high level of concern in our community about the number of homeless people in our community. I know you share the concern, as does the council, law enforcement, and city staff.
This issue has become the highest priority for our city manager, assistant city manager, the Police Chief, and all staff. There is a challenging legal environment concerning this issue, and multiple agencies involved, making any actions/solutions a complex endeavor. Please be assured that the city is working as fast possible to work through these challenges. With the high level of interest, I realize I need to communicate regularly with all of you on the work we are doing and status. Here’s what is happening this week:
Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) staff informed the city that they are concerned about individuals remaining at the OCTA Transit Center at 1550 Avocado Avenue (Transit Center) between the hours of 11:15 p.m. and 5:00 a.m., when the Transit Center is closed. Specifically, OCTA has experienced various negative secondary effects associated with individuals who remain on the property after its posted hours. These effects include storage of trash and debris, public urination and defecation, and active interference with OCTA’s personnel and/or contractors who are attempting to perform maintenance at the property. Given the problems it is experiencing at the Transit Center, the OCTA will be moving forward with submitting a letter to the City, which will authorize the City to act as the OCTA’s agent and enforce no trespassing laws at the Transit Center. We expect the OCTA to submit the final letter to the city today or tomorrow.
The OCTA informed us this week that it is going to move forward with a beautification project, which will require the closure of the area between the Transit Center and San Joaquin Hills Road. OCTA informed us that they are working with the Irvine Company to have Irvine Company do the improvements for OCTA. No date yet on this, but we are hopeful that the site will be closed in the near future to accommodate the project. The staff has met with the broker for a potential temporary shelter site near the airport. We could potential go in as a sub-lessee. We are waiting to hear if the property owner is amenable to a sublease. If they are, I am preparing to have a special closed session next week to discuss.
(had to delete this one because it remains confidential, but I can tell you it has to do with housing)
Brought in a public communication firm we have on contract to update our website with resources for residents and businesses, discuss what we are doing and to get regular communications out to the public. We are working to get updates on the website next week and get communications out as soon as possible.
Assigned Natalie Basmaciyan as our full-time homeless coordinator to manage all of the work that is occurring internally. Natalie is the Library Services Manager with over 11 years at the city and a lifelong Newport Beach resident. Working in the library and as a resident, she has first-hand knowledge and experience with those persons experiencing homelessness. Coupled with her management skills, this temporary assignment will be very helpful to keep us on track and working together.
Councilwoman Joy Brenner, one of three council members who comprise the Homeless Task Force, works on the Education and Outreach sub-committee. Joy is joined by sub-committee members Terry Moore and Jean Wegener, the three recommendations that this sub-committee put forth to the larger task force at its most recent meeting is reflected in much of the action taken this week by our city manager.
I will continue to keep you updated as reports are provided to me by our city manager.
Question: Who do I call when I see a homeless person on my street or harassing others?
Answer: Call the Newport Beach Police Department front desk at 949-644-3681 or dispatch at 949-644-3717.