(This letter also went to City Council members.)
Though the programs of the Friendship Shelter are laudable, it is an unreasonable burden for Laguna Beach to address our homeless needs in the way this project proposes. Laguna will be one of the smallest communities ever to address homelessness with permanent supportive housing.
How is it appropriate that Laguna with a population of 23,000 in an area of 10 square miles build such a project when our nearest neighbor, the city of Irvine, has put up 10 units to date with a population of 212,000 in an area of 65 square miles. Why have our other closest neighbors, listed below, not seen the need for this type of solution: Newport Beach, population 87,000, 53 square miles; Huntington Beach, 195,000, 32; Dana Point, 34,000, 30; and San Clemente, 65,000, 20.
Nationwide, most of the permanent supportive housing models have shown some success for a homeless population that consists of the working poor and families with children. Statistics have shown that such a program has a much lower success rate if not incorporated into the community with easy access to facilities like stores, work, medical care, transportation, etc.
Irvine’s permanent supportive housing units are incorporated into a community of 134 low-cost homes.
This project is in a Laguna location that requires travel for services along a dangerous stretch of highway.
This is not a theoretical argument for me. I have walked 2.5 miles along Laguna Canyon Road several times after dropping off my Vespa to Beach City Mopeds. This is a shockingly unsafe walk with few sidewalks and no protection that I walk very carefully and with much trepidation. People die almost every year walking the canyon. You are contemplating setting up a dangerous situation for some of our most vulnerable people. Is the Friendship Shelter and Jamboree planning to construct sidewalks all the way to downtown?
According to the Friendship Shelter, Laguna Beach’s chronically homeless that this proposal is supposed to address, consists primarily of people who suffer mental illness, disabling conditions or a combination thereof. To me it reeks of the institutionalization of our mentally ill prior to the ‘60s.
For these reasons as well as several more I urge you to deny this project at this location. Thank you very much for your attention.
Mia Davidson, Laguna Beach