City of Santa Ana
On June 25, 2018, the City of Santa Ana officially provided a letter to the California Department of Public Health declaring the City of Santa Ana’s strong opposition to the proposed Orange County Needle Exchange Program (“OCNEP”) application for certification of mobile syringe needle exchange services, in the City of Santa Ana. A similar letter, dated June 8, 2018 from the City of Santa Ana’s Chief of Police, was submitted to the California Department of Public Health opposing the operation of the OCNEP Mobile Needle Exchange. The letter referenced the standards for refusal to certify an initial SEP Application, indicating “here, the harm to public safety significantly outweighs the benefits to public health conferred by the OCNEP.”
It is believed, and has been proven through prior City experiences, that this constituency will expose the improper disposal of dirty and used needles, which will endanger the health and safety of the community. OCNEP’s earlier and documented operations in the Santa Ana Civic Center had significant adverse impacts, including but not limited to excessive needle litter at the Civic Center and associated public safety concerns, which ultimately resulted in the City’s termination of its Memorandum of Understanding with OCNEP to operate a syringe access program at the Civic Center. In his termination letter dated December 6, 2017, Santa Ana City Manager Raul Godinez II provided to Mr. Nathan Birbaum of the OCNEP Steering Committee, a plethora of written and verbal complaints regarding the mismanagement of the OCNEP program and its deficiency in operation, illustrating serious health and safety concerns to the Santa Ana community.
Chief among the safety concerns were numerous complaints by citizens conducting business in the Civic Center, families visiting the Santa Ana Library, and employees of the City of Santa Ana, the County of Orange, the federal government and the State of California. The OCNEP Mobile Needle Exchange proposal will not only adversely impact the quality of life for Santa Ana residents, visitors, and businesses, but will also re-create a public health and safety crisis for the Santa Ana community at large which had been mitigated with the cancellation of the prior OCNEP MOU and permit denial.