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Council Expected to Ask County's Help Removing Clean Needle Program from Parks

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By Lookout Staff

September 12, 2022 -- The City Council on Tuesday is expected to request that County officials help to immediately relocate a program that hands out clean needles to homeless addicts in Santa Monica parks.

The program -- run by the the Venice Family Clinic -- is curbing the City's ability "to maintain equitable access to safe, fun, and healthy spaces" for residents and should be moved indoors, City officials said.

Councilmembers Lana Negrete and Phil Brock have asked the Council to "endorse and authorize" the City Manager to express the City's concerns in a letter from City Manager David White to the County Board of Supervisors.

"(R)ather than implement this program in our parks and open spaces, we seek your assistance in immediately moving this program to a service rich environment (preferably indoors)," the letter states.

There, individuals "in need of substance abuse, mental health, and other services can coordinate and work directly with service providers."

City staff -- which "has been involved in constructive conversations with the County" -- will ask County officials for a "formal proposal."

Officials hope the proposal includes, "at minimum," a pilot project "in which the County places restrictions on the time, place, and manner" in which the program is administered, according to the letter.

The program "should align with the City’s strategy to address homelessness," which includes building more affordable housing, deploying multi-disciplinary outreach teams and providing assistance to cash-strapped tenants.

The letter also highlights the City's partnership with the County Department of Mental Health in launching a Therapeutic Transport Van that responds to "non-violent mental health-related calls for service."

Santa Monica, White's letter notes, has committed $400,000 to this initiative.

"Over the years, the City has developed strong partnerships with the County," the letter concludes.

"We desire to build on this foundation to pursue new approaches to provide the services that are needed for those struggling with substance abuse."

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