TimesOC: Cities turn to crime-ridden motels to help solve homelessness problem

Hello and welcome to the TimesOC newsletter.

Today is Friday, April 29. I’m Ben Brazil, bringing you the latest roundup of Orange County news and events.

As the homelessness crisis continues to soar in Orange County and the rest of the state, authorities have turned to converting motels into affordable housing to address the problem.

Some of these projects are part of a statewide effort called Project Homekey, which involves the purchase and rehabilitation of hotels, motels, vacant apartments and other buildings to house people. homeless. The program was introduced by the state amid the pandemic as a way to transition homeless people into permanent housing.

This week, Costa Mesa received $10.7 million in Homekey funding to turn a Motel 6 on Newport Boulevard into permanent supportive housing. Journalist Sara Cardine wrote that the current plan is to convert the 88-room motel into 40 rooms for homeless people and 48 affordable housing units for seniors.

Costa Mesa applied for the funds with Stanton and Huntington Beach as part of the second round of the Homekey program. In the first round, Stanton converted two former motels into 132 permanent supportive housing units. The city also recently received funding for a third project involving the conversion of the former 21-room Riviera Motel.

Costa Mesa Deputy City Manager Susan Price said this week that converting old motels benefits cities because it gives them a chance to convert a site that has become a public nuisance into an asset to conservation efforts. the city to solve the problem of homelessness.

“It’s not a shelter, it’s not temporary housing — it’s really just an affordable apartment building,” Price said. “We can stabilize our community by providing housing at all income levels, so people don’t have to reside in motels.

Anaheim will seek to convert the Tampico Motel into affordable housing.

(Kevin Chang/TimesOC)

Also this week, Anaheim officials unanimously approved the purchase of the Tampico Motel, a longtime eyesore in the city.

My colleague Gabriel San Román wrote about the city’s plans to buy the property for $5.3 million to convert it into affordable housing. This effort is part of the city’s motel conversion program, which passed in 2019. San Román said this would be the city’s third motel conversion project.

Late last month, the city received $26.5 million in funding from the Homekey Project to convert a Studio 6 motel on Harbor Boulevard into affordable housing. The city has also partnered with the Jamboree Housing Corp. to transform a former Econo Lodge motel on West La Palma Avenue in the city into affordable housing for veterans, the mentally ill and the formerly homeless.

“The Tampico Motel provides an opportunity to acquire a site at a reasonable price, and it’s larger than the site we originally had to purchase,” Grace Ruiz-Stepter, executive director of the Anaheim Housing Authority, told members. advice during the Meeting. “We know from our law enforcement colleagues that the property is the subject of some concerns about potential harmful uses.”

An algae bloom was discovered near Newport Pier on Monday.

An algae bloom was discovered near Newport Pier on Monday.

(Scott Smeltzer/Daily Driver)


Wildlife experts fear birds could die after a red tide emerged at Newport Beach this week. Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center executive director Debbie McGuire said she hasn’t seen many birds affected by the tide, but the organization remains on high alert. In 2007, a red tide caused by an algal bloom killed significant numbers of seabirds in Monterey Bay. “Different algae have different potentials for causing harm,” Claire Arre, OC Coastkeeper’s Director of Marine Restoration, told my colleague Lilly Nguyen. “The biggest concern with this algae is bird fouling, which is basically [the algae bloom] removing oil from a bird’s feathers, causing birds to no longer be waterproof or insulated, which in our cold waters can cause them to become hypothermic and kill them.

The Independent Review Office, which provides oversight of Orange County law enforcement, has been criticized for years as ineffective. Then, two years ago, Sergio Perez was hired as the office’s executive director. In a short time, Perez overhauled the agency by making it more transparent and working with community members and justice advocates. He also released a scathing report on the sheriff’s department’s use-of-force policies. But Perez announced he was leaving the county and the agency’s future is unclear.

Huntington Beach has struggled to retain city managers. Following the departure of Oliver Chi, who took the same role in Irvine after two years on the job, it appears Surf City is set to hire Riverside City manager Al Zelinka at the next board meeting. municipal on Tuesday, wrote my colleague Matt Szabo. While at Riverside, Zelinka is credited with bringing new investment to downtown and facilitating programs to educate the homeless and keep parks safe.

In other Huntington Beach news, a mobile home advisory board has taken a step toward creating a rent stabilization ordinance for the city’s RV parks. Council made the decision this week after vocal members of a mobile home park showed up at the meeting. City Council will now decide whether to approve the board’s proposal to allow the public to vote on removing mobile home parks from a current law banning rent stability ordinances.

Santiago, a male puma, stretches out on his habitat fence.

Santiago, a male puma, stretches out on his habitat fence.

(Don Leach / Daily Driver)


If you want to see a mountain lion named Santiago and a jaguar named Ziggy, be sure to visit the new mammal exhibit at the Orange County Zoo in Irvine Regional Park. My colleague Sarah Mosqueda was able to learn about the new animals at a media event earlier this week. One of the most notable additions includes a pedestrian bridge where a jaguar can cross from one side of an enclosure to the other just above people’s heads.

Tanaka Farms in Irvine has partnered with the Orange-based nonprofit MaxLove Project to give residents the opportunity to tour the farm and pick their own produce. The nonprofit was founded by a woman trained in the culinary arts who turned to healthy foods to help her son recover when he was diagnosed with brain cancer at age 4 . The boy, Max, underwent five brain surgeries, two chemotherapy protocols and other radiation treatments. Currently, he is doing better on a ketogenic diet.

Estancia High School is hosting a theatrical production of the popular board game and movie, “Clue,” throughout this weekend, though it takes place in a modified auditorium rather than an actual theater hall. Since current headmistress Pauline Maranian arrived at the school in 1996, she has been promised a new facility. Yet, as journalist Sara Cardine wrote, plans to build a new venue have stalled. “[Other schools] have state-of-the-art facilities on their campuses, with fly lofts and orchestra pits,” Maranian said this week. “We have nowhere to go for the orchestra. We placed them in the aisles, but it was a fire hazard. We put them on stage, but the sound blows everything away. Everyone works hard, but our resources are different.

Two Newport Beach teenagers worked to install “buddy” benches on local school campuses to send a message of kindness and foster empathy among students. The teens are partnering with the nonprofit Patrick’s Purpose, which aims to promote mental wellbeing in schools and create a culture of kindness. The nonprofit was created in honor of Patrick “Patty” Turner, who died in 2018 by suicide. The benches said, “Be nice to everyone, above all, be inclusive.”

ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 31: Fans enter Angel Stadium in Anaheim on opening day.

Anaheim violated affordable housing laws when it made the deal with Angel Stadium.

(Jeff Gross/Getty Images)


Since the City of Anaheim was found to have violated affordable housing laws, the drama surrounding the Angel Stadium deal has been complicated. The city agreed to pay $96 million for the construction of affordable housing projects in addition to the stadium agreement. But it’s worth reading this analysis by journalist Bill Shaikin on the matter.

The Angels are in the middle of a five-game winning streak after defeating the Cleveland Guardians 4-1. Reporter Mike Digiovanna provided a recap of the game, including left-handed pitcher Reid Detmer’s impressive performance on the mound, giving up one run and two hits in five innings and striking out four on strike and one on foot.

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