Los Angeles County Wants Norwalk to Comply With Homeless Housing Effort


LOS ANGELES (CNS) - Los Angeles County filed a court action against the city of Norwalk today, seeking to force the municipality to comply with state and county efforts to house the homeless in motels during the coronavirus crisis.

“This is about the state of California protecting its residents,” the Los Angeles Superior Court petition states.

A representative for the city of Norwalk did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

While many cities, and hotels and motels, have been eager to help the county implement Project Roomkey to help the homeless, Norwalk has resisted the county's efforts to secure temporary emergency housing by enacting legislation “directly contrary to, and in violation of, (Gov. Gavin Newsom's) declaration of an emergency and his issuance of executive orders,” the suit states.

On Tuesday, the city directed a participating hotel to withdraw its contract with the county and threatened to take immediate action to revoke its permits, business licenses and other municipal entitlements, according to the lawsuit.

At an emergency meeting of the City Council that same day, the city enacted an ordinance asserting local control over land use and related activities during the current state of emergency, the suit says.

The ordinance “is a self-described moratorium with the express purpose to prohibit owners and/or operators of hotels and motels located in the city from converting or utilizing businesses or properties for homeless housing purposes or uses for COVID-19 housing or related uses or purposes without prior city approval,” the petition states.

Under the California Emergency Services Act, the state has the authority to direct counties and cities to take action to protect people and property, and they are required to comply, according to the petition.

Project Roomkey was created to save the lives of California's most vulnerable residents and protect others from infection and the governor has directed counties to secure emergency temporary housing for individuals experiencing homelessness who are at risk of contracting COVID-19, including by utilizing private hotels and motels, the petition states.

Norwalk has enacted legislation directly contrary to, and in violation of, the governor's declaration of an emergency and his issuance of executive orders, the petition alleges.

“Project Roomkey will save lives and reduce the burden on the healthcare system, which benefits all residents of Los Angeles County,” the petition says.

The county is seeking a court order compelling Norwalk to comply with the Emergency Services Act and the governor's orders by allowing the county to implement Project Roomkey and other temporary emergency housing programs for at- risk individuals experiencing homelessness.

Photo: Getty Images

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