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Task force on council agenda

Group would examine the chronic homeless problem in Costa Mesa and give recommendations on how to address the issue.

January 15, 2011|By Joseph Serna, joseph.serna@latimes.com

The Costa Mesa City Council will consider Tuesday creating a task force to examine chronic homelessness in the city and at Lions Park specifically, which would then come back with recommendations on how to address its effects.

Larry Haynes, executive director of the Mercy House in Santa Ana, will lead the creation and direction of the task force.

The group, according to the council agenda, will be between 17 and 18 volunteers from Costa Mesa's Planning and Parks and Recreation commissions, the Redevelopment and Residential Rehabilitation Committee, two local churches, a representative from Share Our Selves, and various members from other social programs and the community.

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The group would be tasked with evaluating Costa Mesa's current efforts to address issues linked with the homeless that include drug and alcohol use, physical and verbal altercations, littering, public urination and overall unsanitary conditions at the park and near the library. To this point, Costa Mesa has ramped up enforcement in the area, including more than police 600 calls in 2010 and adding a security guard to the library.

Citations and complaints only go so far, according to the city staff report. Over six to nine months, the group would take a census of the city's homeless, profile them and their needs, and work with surrounding cities and the county to place them in homes and minimize the problems they cause in the long term.

On a separate issue Tuesday night, the City Council is looking to sign up for Orange County's AlertOC program, which automatically calls city residents' phones with information during emergencies. Residents can also put their cell phones into the system's database.

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