I was present at the City Council meeting last week when the concept for supportive housing for Laguna’s homeless was discussed. It was a respectful and open-hearted forum that enabled voices both pro and con to be heard. Concerns were raised that I, as a supporter of this project, believe can be addressed. Moving the location of the proposed facility, however, would surely doom it. How would maintaining the status quo (no new project) solve any of the myriad concerns expressed by business owners and others in town?
Many speakers said they were opposed to its location in Laguna Canyon. As proposed it would be bordered by the Pacific Marine Mammal Center (PMMC) and the Bark Park. We can all agree that no one would be thrilled to have these facilities as a neighbor, but the current use and zoning deems it the most feasible. Issues concerning security, safety, and quality of life raised by canyon residents can and should be addressed.
One of the concerns voiced by the PMMC’s executive director was that this location would be inappropriate due to the stench and incessant “barking” of the marine mammals. Presumably these conditions would be repellant to future residents of the supportive housing/ASL facility. No other opponent noted nuisances of the marine mammal kind, but many took exception to the human variety. I have confidence that it is possible to care for and provide rehabilitation services for our human, marine, and other sentient beings without prejudice while remaining attentive to the quality of life for all.
The Friendship Shelter’s track record speaks for itself regarding its ability to accomplish its intention with integrity, fiscal responsibility, professional management practices, and respect for Laguna’s residents both inside and outside their facilities. Where improvements to security and quality of life must be made, I trust that the Friendship Shelter (with Jamboree Housing) will act to do so. They have earned the trust of our community to manage such a supportive housing/ASL project. Also, they have earned our trust regarding the integrity of the facts and figures they have made public to buttress the desirability of supportive housing.
I have confidence in our ability as a caring community to find a humane consensus.
Linda Brown, Laguna Beach