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Council to discuss how to handle possessions of homeless

March 15, 2013|By Jill Cowan

At its meeting next week, the Costa Mesa City Council will weigh a first reading of a rule that would replace the city's existing ordinance prohibiting camping and storage of personal property in public space with a similar one that's more tightly defined, a staff report said.

The ordinance, according to the report, is aimed at balancing the rights of homeless people who leave belongings unattended in parks or near businesses with the interests of other residents and business owners for whom such property could pose a safety or health risk.

The revised ordinance comes in response to a recent 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Los Angeles' "practice of summarily destroying personal property left in public areas violates due process," the report says.

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The Costa Mesa ordinance to be considered at Tuesday evening's council meeting would separate camping and storage bans into two separate sections, more clearly outline what constitutes storage in public and include processes for the impounding of property, among other provisions.

The new ordinance would require the city, when a person's belongings are impounded, to leave a note "in a prominent location" and hold the property for 90 days. The city would still be able to dispose of illegal or perishable items.

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Zoning Code

In other business, the city will give a second reading of an ordinance that would change the city's zoning code to allow emergency homeless shelters and transitional housing to be built without a conditional use permit.

If approved, the amendment would make emergency shelters a new city land use category, rather than a facility requiring a permit.

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City Hall redesign

The council is also expected to approve a $59,740 contract with the firm Dougherty + Dougherty to redesign the City Hall lobby and the Costa Mesa Police Department lobby and to work on new concepts for signage to help people find their way around the Civic Center.

The council is set to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers, 77 Fair Drive.

jill.cowan@latimes.com

Twitter: @jillcowan

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