Council rejects county plan for homeless shelter

Posted on June 19, 2013

The Fullerton City Council voted 3-2 against a Multi-Jurisdictional Agreement, in which the city would partner with the County of Orange to house a county-operated homeless shelter.

The split decision, followed by a booming round of applause, was made after council members and dozens of Fullerton residents aired their concerns about the agreement and proposed location, which is next to a school and park.

Voting against the agreement were Mayor Bruce Whitaker, Mayor Pro Tem Doug Chaffee and Council Member Greg Sebourn, who said a homeless shelter was in fact a need in Fullerton, but the location and procedure by which the city was expected to move forward on were not ideal.

Jennifer Fitzgerald and Jan Flory voted in favor of the agreement, saying the homeless shelter was not only needed but the location was the best available.

The county has already entered into a 150-day purchase agreement with the owners of the building that would have housed the shelter. Asked Wednesday if the county will still purchase the property, Supervisor Shawn Nelson said no.

“I told them I’d live with their response,” Nelson said. “If they don’t want it, I’m not going to force feed them. They need to figure out what they want. I trying to help them solve a problem.”

Mayor Whitaker said he thought the county had not properly involved the city in finding and vetting the location.

“One of my concerns up to this point is the lack of the Fullerton City Council being actively involved in this planning. It is our goal to represent the citizens in this regard, and their concerns do need to be dealt with. They are going to look to us; they are not going to look to the county,” Whitaker said during the meeting.

Nelson rejects the idea the city was not involved.

“We’ve reached out to every single one of the council members,” Nelson said. “I’ve personally met with Bruce and Greg on several occasions.” Nelson also said Chaffee had not responded to multiple requests to meet about the issue.

Similar to previous weeks, residents lined the walls to speak for and against the proposed location. Many against the shelter said they were opposed, not to the shelter, but its proximity to a school and park. The location in question is 301 S. State College Boulevard.

Chaffee suggested looking into creating a committee that would search for a new location.

Later in the evening, the council voted unanimously to amend an ordinance that would limit food truck operational hours in the downtown area.

The amended ordinance, which was originally approved June 4, now prohibits food trucks from operating in the downtown area starting at 9 p.m. instead 8 p.m.

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