LAGUNA HILLS (CBSLA) — Just days after the city of Laguna Woods and its retirement village filed a restraining order against Orange County to block the use of a local hotel to house homeless COVID-19 positive patients, the city of Laguna Hills decided to follow suit.
Laguna Hills Mayor Janine Heft and area businesses have filed a lawsuit against the county to stop the 76-room Laguna Hills Inn from being used to house and treat homeless COVID-19 patients.
“We want to protect the citizens and residents of Laguna Hills,” Heft said. “In Laguna Hills, we’re one of the lowest cities. I think I just checked it today and we have like 13 people that are COVID positive and we want to keep it that way.”
Heft said last week the county signed a three-month contract with the owner of the Laguna Hills Inn to shelter symptomatic and COVID-positive homeless people in a city where a quarter of the population is over the age of 65.
“It’s not a secure facility,” Heft said. “If you look at it, you’ve got a lot of places where they can walk out and that’s one of our concerns. If they want to leave, you know, who’s gonna forcibly keep them there?”
Even with a new fence surrounding the property to increase security, those who live nearby were still worried.
“We want the city of Laguna Hills to fight that because it’s not safe,” one resident said.
But there were others who have seen hotels across Los Angeles being used to shelter people experiencing homelessness who have contracted the novel coronavirus and believe it is the right thing to do.
“We have to protect each other,” George Ghassemian, an Aliso Viejo resident, said. “They do need a place.”
A judge is expected to hear the case Thursday.