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Judge Orders Norwalk to Place Houseless in Specialized Hotel

CITY NEWS

A judge Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order directing the city of Norwalk to comply with state and Los Angeles County efforts to temporarily place homeless people considered vulnerable to the coronavirus in a specified motel.

Hews Media Group has exclusively learned that the hotel is the Hotel Saddleback located at 12500 Firestone Blvd in Norwalk.

 

 

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Samantha Jessner, who issued her ruling a day after hearing arguments in the case, said that on balance, the interests of the county in implementing a state order under Project Roomkey to safely house the homeless during the pandemic outweighed any harm the city could suffer.

The judge’s order applies only to the one motel eyed by the county. Louis “Skip” Miller, an attorney for the county, said he had no objections to the limitation.

“That’s the motel they want to get going on,” said Miller, who along with attorney Arnold Alvarez-Glasman, on behalf of the city, communicated with the court by telephone because of the court’s limited operations due to COVID-19 concerns.

Miller said the TRO allows the county to begin moving the homeless into the motel immediately. He said the ruling should “cause any other city to think twice and not do what Norwalk did.”

Jessner, who ruled from the bench, also set a July 2 hearing on whether the county should be granted a preliminary injunction on the same matter. That hearing will be before Judge James Chalfant.

Until Tuesday, Norwalk had 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,” according to the county’s petition filed Thursday.

Last 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 petition.

At an emergency meeting of the Norwalk 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 county’s petition described the ordinance as “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.”

 

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