Orange County can house homeless, Covid-19 patients in Laguna Hills hotel: Judge

Laguna Hills officials sued to prevent the county from converting 76-key hotel

Los Angeles /
Apr.April 21, 2020 10:01 AM
The Laguna Hills Inn (Credit: Getty Images)
The Laguna Hills Inn (Credit: Getty Images)

A judge has allowed Orange County to move homeless people into a Laguna Hills hotel to prevent the spread of coronavirus, rejecting a challenge that argued it violated local codes.

The county struck a deal earlier this month with the hotel owner, Elite Hospitality, to rent the 76-room Laguna Hills Inn for people living without shelter and who are acutely vulnerable.

Los Angeles has been working to house people with Covid-19 or who are under medical quarantine in hotels and Gov. Gavin Newsom early this month said the state would book thousands of hotel rooms to house homeless people impacted by the virus through “Project Room Key.”

But Laguna Hills challenged the county’s decision, and filed suit. It claimed the move would put neighbors at risk, and violated the surrounding building covenants, conditions and restrictions.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Delaney ruled that the county was “acting consistent with the governor’s orders in the context of this state of emergency,” according to the Los Angeles Times.

An attorney for Laguna Hills said the city and the owners of the neighboring properties are weighing their options.

The county will house homeless people over 65, those who have tested positive for Covid-19, who are showing symptoms or who have underlying conditions that make them vulnerable, according to the report.

It will pay around $8,500 per day for the hotel and expects to be reimbursed by the state through Project Room Key. The program, largely federally funded, sets aside $50 million to rent rooms across California and another $100 million in emergency grants for support services.

L.A. County has rented nearly 2,000 beds in 23 hotels through the program. [LAT]Dennis Lynch


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