Families have not won the legal war against a Costa Mesa ordinance that bars them from staying in city motels after 30 days, but they did win some relief pending the outcome of their trial.
Orange County Superior Court Judge Sheila Fell on Wednesday issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the city up through trial from evicting any current motel residents under the ordinance without first complying with the California Relocation Assistance Act, which requires counseling and financial assistance with any forced relocation, among other things.
The families' lawyers from Costa Mesa firm Haynes and Boone, Santa Ana-based pro bono law firm Public Law Center and the Los Angeles-based Western Center on Law and Poverty have sued the City of Costa Mesa on ground that the ordinance the City Council in August 2014 unfairly targets the poor.
“This affected many residents that relied on the motels to provide low-income, long-term housing,” says a spokesman for the legal team. “A number of these residents are families, desiring to stay close to doctors, schools and other resources needed to survive.”
But Councilman Jim Righeimer, who was Costa Mesa's mayor when he led the 3-2 vote for the ordinance, has said the aim of the ordinance is to help the poor, allowing long-term residents of motels to periodically consider whether they can get a better bang for the bucks they spend per square foot somewhere else. The law, Righeimer noted at the time, closed no motel rooms and removed no beds.
The lawyers for the motel residents claim the city ordinance violates California's Fair Employment and Housing Act, the federal Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act and the California Relocation Assistance Act.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.