MOORLACH UPDATE — C2EH — December 11, 2013

There are plenty of times in life when one wishes they were further along than they are: a diet, a golf game, a surgery recovery. You may be moving along faster than expected, but it just isn’t fast enough. That’s my experience with the Commission to End Homelessness (C2EH). The OC Register covers the status update of the three years of progress made by this committee in the piece below. For more detail, go to http://ocgov.com/gov/bos/agenda/ for the Board agendas, then click on December 10 and review item 58 and its supporting documents. I would also recommend going to the OC Partnership’s website for additional information at http://www.ocpartnership.net/content/commissiontoendhomelessness.html.

For “government speed,” the C2EH has made a significant amount of progress in the last three years. And, there is plenty more to be accomplished. I am grateful for all of the Commission members who have each put their shoulders to the plow. Thank you for your unselfish service to the residents of Orange County, especially for the least, the last, and the lost. It has been an honor to serve with and alongside you!

O.C. homeless plan falls behind schedule

Three years into its “10-year Plan to End Homelessness,” Orange County is lagging on some key measures , according to a presentation given to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The county’s homeless commission completed about half of the tasks it set out to finish by 2013, and is already behind on the next big milestone – opening year-round emergency shelters.

Orange County will have about 12,700 people who experience homelessness this year, and government officials have teamed with nonprofits and the business community to address the need. But they are hitting hurdles – in local opposition to homeless shelters, funding shortfalls and other challenges, officials say.

“We’re supposed to work together,” Supervisor John ‍Moorlach said at a Commission to End Homelessness meeting last week.

Moorlach wants to convert a former bus depot in the Civic Center to a shelter but said, “I’m offering the city of Santa Ana $4 million and they’re not taking it.”

Here are the tasks the commission finished by Sept. 27: formed a commission (yes, they counted that); added 41 public or private agencies to a central information system that tracks homeless people; improved its data gathering (such as clarifying what it means to get someone housed); and identified some funding for “rapid rehousing,” which places people into long-term apartments instead of shelters.

But it fell short on: getting all of the roughly 65 agencies to feed into a central information system; beginning new prevention measures; opening a centralized homeless intake center; and developing a budget for the entire plan.

“That is a huge, daunting task,” commission Executive Director Karen Roper said of the budgeting.

Funding for a full-time director was eliminated when private foundations stopped matching county funds, but Roper is paid for her other county duties.

Emergency shelters are at the top of the commission’s list; they are supposed to open by 2015, but sites in Fullerton and Santa Ana have been essentially rejected at the city council level, officials say. Supervisor Janet Nguyen said Tuesday that her office is considering three other sites in Santa Ana.

CONTACT THE WRITER: mreicher

FIVE-YEAR LOOK BACKS

December 9

1993

My “Conservative Politics” submission for the Daily Pilot stayed on the retail theme (see MOORLACH UPDATE — San Diego Freeway — December 10, 2013) with “Untended Business – Costa Mesa officials should get busy keeping and attracting companies.” It turned out that all of the sales by Mary Kay consultants were being reported in the city of Costa Mesa, where its distribution center was located, thus generating a substantial amount of sales tax revenues to the city. The company decided to relocate to the city of Cypress and it has become a major source of revenue for that city over the past twenty years. Losing such an incredibly unique business like this one was cause for this editorial submission.

The tragedy of the firestorm in Laguna Beach is one we will not soon forget. Laguna Beach is currently going through its “blame game” and has approved a new reservoir. Costa Mesa has its own potential firestorm. Where Laguna Beach had too much untended wild growth, Costa Mesa will suffer from an untended business community.

Laguna Beach has its environmental concerns. Costa Mesa has its growth concerns. Intentions to bring a decrease in Costa Mesa’s growth are well and good, but it must include balance between the homeowners, who resent the traffic, and the business owners, many of whom need the traffic.

If those seeking to stop growth in Costa Mesa want to do this city a favor, they should veraciously protect the tax producers. Otherwise, should any of the businesses leave, they must be prepared to replace those tax generators.

Better yet, if they would let loose of their tight hold on growth, they may find additional revenues going to our city’s coffers. As it is now, our city has to downsize, which will affect our public safety and, in direct correlation, our quality of life.

And it is the quality of life argument that no-growthers use most often. The irony is that their pursuit of quality of life may further destroy it instead of enhancing it.

The residents of Laguna Beach are pointing their fingers at their powerful slow-growth groups such as Laguna Greenbelt, Laguna Canyon Conservancy and Village Laguna. We’ve seen similar groups in Costa Mesa such as Mesa Action, Citizens for Responsible Growth, and, perhaps, the General Plan Steering committee.

In Laguna Beach, the slow-growthers blocked the building of a crucial water reservoir. In Costa Mesa, they are discouraging business growth by density limitations through its general plan.

Let me give two recent examples. The first is the Automobile Club of Southern California. Company officials have said they would like to expand their Costa Mesa facility and merge in their Los Angeles staff.

If they can not build, they will leave an empty building on the corner of Sunflower and Segerstrom. Translated: We will lose all of the purchasing power and resulting sales tax revenue from the employees who elect to shop and eat in Costa Mesa.

How much? That’s hard to tell. But if 1,000 employees spend $20 per week each in Costa Mesa, we would generate $10,400 in sales tax revenue to Costa Mesa )or roughly the cost of a dog park).

Recently officials at the Mary Kay Cosmetics distribution center in north Costa Mesa called the city Planning Department about expanding their facilities to accommodate their growth.

“It will take you at least a year to amend the General Plan for that,” they were probably told. Other cities made overtures. We now pay the consequences.

Let me give kudos to the city for working with the major hotels and discussing a business improvement district. The hotels will voluntarily contribute funds to encourage tourism. This avoids a tax increase and the city handling or (mishandling) the proceeds.

However, it was the hotels that initiated the discussion. The city also changed the trip fees from the $900 range to the $250 range, making Costa Mesa competitive with neighboring cities. But this was done only after an outcry from developers.

All the same, it is time for the city leadership to look more diligently at its businesses. It needs to lead and not simply react. They need to use their recently acquired software that can single out its sales tax revenue sources. They need to thank the Mary Kays in our boundaries and encourage them to stay there.

Please vote intelligently next fall. We need men and women that have met a payroll that will be sensitive to the homeowners and the business owners. We cannot afford to lose another Mary Kay.

2008

Bob Fauteux of the Foothills Sentry, in his “Politics as Usual” column, addressed “County’s First District satellite office is a featherbedding farce.” The topic resurfaced as the Board was now asked to consider a five-year lease, which was approved by the same Supervisors. Here is the opening paragraph:

Last October, Supervisor Janet Nguyen got fellow Supervisors Bill Campbell and Pat Bates, a bare majority, with Chris Norby and John Moorlach dissenting, to fund a year’s Pilot Program trial for a “County Community Service Center” office in her district. The office was established with a one-year lease at 15468 Magnolia St. in Westminster.

December 10

1998

The OC Register had this friendly reminder: “Property taxes due today; 10% penalty after.” I did not have a chance to include this piece in yesterday’s UPDATE, thus I included the BONUS reminder.

County Treasurer-Tax Collector John Moorlach said tax bills can be paid either in person at his office, . . . mailed with a postmark of no later than Dec. 10, or dropped in a night-deposit box at the Treasurer’s Office.

Moorlach said his office will stay open until 6 p.m. today, and will accept payments in the night deposit until midnight.

December 11

2008

The year of 2008 was the toughest in recent memory. And the headlines proved it. Norberto Santana, Jr., of the OC Register announced “800 may lose jobs at O.C. Social Services Agency – Health Care and Probation are next on chopping block.” As a postscript, the Affordable Care Act has caused the County’s employee numbers to jump back up in the past year in a dramatic fashion. Here is the piece in full:

Orange County officials on Wednesday unveiled a series of steep cuts at the Social Services Agency that are aimed at quickly trimming $30 million in salary and services out of this fiscal year’s budget.

Budget negotiators informed labor leaders that all 4,218 workers at the Social Services Agency will each be required to take up to 80 hours of unpaid leave over the next six months. In addition, 210 jobs must be cut, as well as 193 vacant positions.

County officials are concerned that the unions will seek a court injunction to stop the mandatory furloughs. But county managers have warned that if labor fights that option, then 625 jobs will be eliminated by Feb. 1.

"It’s not a threat, it’s a reality," county CEO Tom Mauk said. He said the job cuts have to be implemented quickly because of a decline in state revenues that fund such programs.

According to budget managers, the job cuts should save about $10 million from the current budget. An additional $20 million in service reductions are being considered within the Social Services Agency.

"Ice cold" is how Nick Berardino, head of the Orange County Employees Association – the county’s largest union – described the cuts and how they are being handled. "It’s heartbreaking," he said, noting that tears were flowing at the union offices. "I can’t sleep at night."

Berardino said he plans to press county managers and elected supervisors to feel as much pain as the rank and file.

"There needs to be total oversight and we need to look at every remodel, every new piece of furniture, every trip and meal that has been paid for the last 18 months," he said.

Berardino said he’s pressing to have executive management car allowances eliminated, along with calling on all department heads, managers and elected officials to pay for their own pensions. He also wants 401-k plans that are offered to elected officials and managers to be eliminated and is calling on managers to forgo a 5 percent raise planned for early next year.

Mauk said the union will likely find a friendly ear on those suggestions.

"Managers need to step up and show leadership by immediately forgoing any raises at all. And I’m in the process of talking to them right now," Mauk said.

But even implementing all those changes won’t make a dent in the shortages expected.

"If you took all of those, do you think they would total $86 million?" Mauk said.

The answer: Not even close.

Mauk is referring to an expected $86 million dip in local revenue during the next fiscal year.

He added that the pain from the state shortfall won’t be short-lived. Within the next week, expect to hear plans for similar cuts at the Health Care Agency and Probation.

"The state’s budget is in a freefall," said Supervisor Chris Norby. "And these positions are largely funded through the state. If the state doesn’t give us the money, it isn’t there."

Responding to labor’s concerns about the cuts, Norby added, "denial is not a strategy."

Supervisor’s Chairman John Moorlach also noted that the cuts currently being seen at the county are simply a reflection of what’s happening to the rest of the community and nation.

"The private sector has already made tons of adjustments because of revenue," he said. "Now it’s our turn."

The LA Times also covered the story with Stuart Pfeifer’s piece, “Orange County to Cut 210 Jobs – 4,000 other workers will be told to take 2 unpaid weeks off in worst fiscal crisis since the 1994 bankruptcy.” Stuart was assisted by Garrett Therolf, Molly Hennessy-Fiske, and David Kelly. Here are the closing paragraphs:

John Moorlach, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, said the county has been forced to make some tough decisions because of the cutback in revenue.

"The facts are the facts. We can only afford what we can afford. That means we have to start taking some measures which are unfortunate, especially in December," Moorlach said. "But we’re not alone. The private sector has been dealing with this issue for some time and now it’s our turn."

Many of the targeted employees are social workers and welfare eligibility technicians, who help determine whether applicants are eligible for public assistance, officials said. The cutbacks will probably mean it will take longer to process applications for public assistance, officials said.

No plans are in place to lay off workers from other departments, Crown said.

Vikki Vargas of Channel 4 NBC, covered the story with “OC Social Workers Told Take Furlough or Lose Jobs.”Here are selected paragraphs:

"We have been very good about saving money and having adequate reserves," said Supervisor John Moorlach. "But we can no longer rob Peter to pay Paul."

Moorlach says the county must eliminate 210 jobs by Feb. 1, 2009. Currently, he estimates, the agency is building up red ink at the rate of $800,000 a month. Officials say 80 percent of the money that funds the agency comes from vehicle license fees and sales taxes. But income has dropped dramatically with fewer people buying cars and big-ticket items.

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