Last week, we posted Anaheim Colony resident Keith Oleson’s July 17 takedown of Councilman Jose F. Moreno’s attempt to deflect constituent ire over a 75-bed homeless recuperative care facility coming to District 3. Oleson’s phillipic was posted on NextDoor.com and the Mother Colony listserv.
Moreno published a reply on July 19, in which he attempted to preemptively blame Councilwoman Kris Murray in case any owners of the Short Term Rentals seek to recoup their investment by converting them into group homes:
I’m not certain the purpose of continuing to restate something that I have acknowledged I could have done better in. Especially on a thread where I am trying to report on steps I’m taking and/or supporting that can help improve the planning and notification process on projects in our city. As I said the evening of the meeting I fully support the “recuperative care” model as a highly successful approach to get folks much needed medical support. Is placing recuperative care facility at the Wilshire site the best place? That is a question for the planning process to help us vett together. Which is why we have formal permitting processes.
Over the past year and a half I have learned much more about models to help folks struggling with homelessness or near homelessness. As a Councilmember I have to make decisions everyday on behalf of our residents. I won’t always get them right, and when I don’t, I will not hide or not accept proper responsibility. Upon that recognition I will always seek to understand better how I could have been better, how we can come back together, and how we can move forward together. In short, representation isn’t about always getting it right. It’s about listening, engaging, and trying one’s best to do the most good. I look forward to hearing your and other’s solutions to the set of crises long simmering in our city (reminder I’ve only been in office 17 months and we’ve only had district system 17 months). I’m all ears Keith. I respect all you do in our community and the experience that you have in community. You have my contact info.
1) At Tuesday’s meeting City Council agreed to increase notification to radius of 500 feet for projects. I introduced idea for larger radius of 1,000 feet but there is concern by Council of overburdening small businesses with excessive regulations. While I disagreed with this position I respect it as a substantive concern. Therefore I asked Council to include in the motion that we have an automatic review in 6 months to assess effectiveness. I shared the experience we just had with Wilshire and how ultimately the limited radius of 300ft hurt the process for neighbors and property owner.
2) I have agendized and am working with planning staff to review the concentrated proliferation of group homes under 6 people. I am supportive of group homes generally but when local officials / cities do not have to be notified by operators nor permits required we are vulnerable to the home becoming concentrated in areas which undermines the character and integrity of neighborhoods. I will report back as soon as I learn the date it will be agendized. As a heads up, in a previous council meeting Councilwoman Kris Murray asked for agenda item to allow formerly permitted STRs to become group homes. I opposed this idea right away but it is presumably still in the agenda queue.. I’ll report back as I learn more.
3) I have spoken with the property owners of the Wilshire property since the community meeting in June. They heard the community clearly and learned more about the context of what our neighborhood is already struggling with.
I am expecting to talk with them again soon and per my post after the June community meeting am looking to have a follow up community meeting to provide more complete updates.
Jose F. Moreno
Mayor Pro Tem & Councilmember Dist. 3
Moreno’s red herring prompted a blistering response on the listserv from Murray:
I feel I must respond to Jose Moreno’s latest message to the Mother Colony group and his statement concerning group homes. MPT Jose Moreno has a consistent practice of attacking his colleagues and community members with false or misleading statements when attempting to deflect attention from his positions on important issues in Anaheim. He knows full well that I have not asked for group homes and city staff is not considering a policy to place group homes in former STR properties. It’s unfortunate he would make that claim in this forum for what can only be a purposeful attempt to mislead the people he’s elected to serve on the City Council.
Here are the facts. The city is working with all cities countywide on an effort to build 2700 permanent supportive housing units proportionally allocated to all 34 cities. The council and staff are supportive of this plan and just voted unanimously to support state legislation authored by the city’s legislative delegation to establish an Orange County Housing Trust to help fund these projects with local city control as to how they would be developed and tailored to meet the needs of each community. A few months ago, in concert with the city’s efforts to support this countywide plan, I asked that staff look at options to consider former STR properties for permanent supportive housing like Grandma’s House of Hope – conditioned by strict operational and management guidelines, onsite management, and limits on how many could open in any one district and neighborhood to ensure an approach that would be qualitative and distributed citywide. It is not in the agenda queue. It was something staff was asked to research for council consideration and when it was discussed by Council, I do not recall any objection by MPT Moreno.
By contrast, group homes are allowed by state law and I advocated against them when they were being authorized. They have no parameters, no oversight, no management requirements and can open anywhere if they have 6 or less living there. I have worked as a board member of the Association of California Cities-Orange County to advance legislation that would provide constraints and local control for sober living homes that are operating to the detriment of those who live in them and to the neighborhoods in which they exist. I also led council efforts to open the county’s first full-service, year-round shelter Bridges at Kraemer Place and developed Operation Home S.A.F.E. to authorize concurrent efforts to expand services to those who are homeless and secure increased public safety. Jose Moreno has been critical of me in private settings for my work on Operation Home S.A.F.E. even though he voted in support as did the rest of the council. His criticism extends to the efforts I led to restore our sworn police personnel to pre-recession levels, referring to Anaheim as becoming a “police state” and was the only council member not to support a motion I made to have the city demand a retraction by the ACLU for their widely-publicized report that falsified data defaming our department and individual officers by name.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, I asked city staff to develop a policy that requires any investor or operator that seeks a CUP for a facility serving homeless, rehabilitation, sober living, or any vulnerable population be required to have a certified operational plan and operator under contract prior to approval of a CUP and to have it retroactive to January of this year so that any who have applied this year be subject to public review and approval before opening. I’ve asked for this policy to come to Council for approval by September. I’m also working with staff to ask that the operational plan for the recuperative care facility on Wilshire come back to the planning commission for approval before they open, since it was not submitted as part of their CUP application. This is essential to ensure those who are placed at this facility receive quality care and to ensure there are no negative impacts to surrounding homes. MPT Moreno took none of these steps as the directly elected representative of District 3.
Last, for those who may not be aware, I worked with community members in the Colony and citywide to develop the city’s Quality Rental Housing Program that overhauled code enforcement and oversight of rental housing citywide. Since that program was approved in 2014, it has resulted in nearly 33,000 rental units being certified to meet or exceed the city’s health and safety codes. It also provides authority for the city to prosecute slum lords who refuse to comply. We took nearly a year to develop this policy by working with all stakeholders. When it came to council, Jose Moreno in his capacity as a community leader did not speak in support and many of his supporters accused me of attempting to “gentrify” our neighborhoods.
With nearly two years on the council, MPT Moreno has spent more time attacking those he serves with than advancing any meaningful policies or programs. He could have weighed in with those he represents to advise residents of the recuperative care facility – if he’d even spent as much time with residents to discuss this proposed project as he did with its owners in advance of their CUP approval, you would have had ample time to respond prior to its approval.
In closing, these are among the many reasons I’ve endorsed Mitch Caldwell for City Council, representing District 3. The district deserves a representative with a proven record of serving the community, works respectfully and collaboratively with all stakeholders, and a person of unimpeachable integrity who cares more about public service than politics. You may not always agree with Mitch but he will always be respectful and honest. The same cannot be said for the current incumbent.
Please never hesitate to contact me to discuss any issue before the city.
Council Member At-large
City of Anaheim
Moreno is previewing a line-of-attack against Mitch Caldwell by attempting to blame him for the proliferation of group homes in District 3. The problem with that charge is it is false. As Murray noted, group homes with 6 or fewer client-residents – the type engendering voters’ concern – can be established by-right in any neighborhood without the permission of local government, thanks to state law.
The explosion of sober-living homes in Orange County is the harvest of liberal policies enacted by progressive politicians like Moreno. Bad operators reap huge sums to house recovering addicts thanks to ObamaCare. The payments are not contingent on addicts actually achieving sobriety, so when the wash out, unethical sober-living home operators simply kick them loose, bring in more bodies and collect more checks. It’s challenging for local governments to crack down on them because addiction to drugs or alcohol was enshrined several years as a “disability” under the federal Americans with Disability Act – fruit of the progressive instinct to turn political demands into civil rights. When cities try to crack down, bad operators hide behind the ADA and claim their clients civil rights are being violated. This whole phenomenon is a vivid illustration of the incoherence of progressive policies – because usually ignore human nature, they invariably crack-up upon colliding with the Law of Unintended Consequences.