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Katrina Foley Says No to Needle Exchange Near Schools

In one Southern California town, a Mayoral candidate is joining with other local leaders to stop a state agency from placing a needle exchange program near two elementary schools.

Katrina Foley Says No to Needle Exchange Near Schools
Costa Mesa, CA, August 07, 2018 --( Mayoral candidate, Katrina Foley, along with City Council member John Stephens, have taken steps to protect the health and welfare of families and business owners in their coastal community of Costa Mesa, California. The two seasoned attorneys are bringing their legal expertise and their relationships with the elected leaders and city attorneys of the other cities fighting similar issues to the table. Together, with Costa Mesa's sister city and county partners, the duo vows to stop the ineffective needle exchange program and force the state agency to protect the public.

Despite unanimous city council opposition, this week the City of Costa Mesa received notice that the California State Department of Public Health approved a mobile needle exchange program a block away from two elementary schools, surrounded by a residential area, and 1500 businesses. The two attorneys did what lawyers do, they took action by working together with city staff to develop a legal solution to stop the program from starting up in their city.

Foley stated, "While the Hepatitis C and the opioid epidemic are public health concerns that worry me, it’s shocking and disturbing that there is little to no regard for the families in Costa Mesa by a state agency assigned to protect the public. This needle exchange program is just one more instance where state agencies are making decisions or enacting policies without consultation with us that are detrimental to our quality of life."

In a city that is already impacted with the 92 drug rehab facility licenses in traditional neighborhoods, Foley feels that being "hit with this needle program will be detrimental to our [residents] quality of life."

The City and their Police Department did their homework when they learned about the program application. Foley and Stephens along with other council members, unanimously opposed it. According to Foley, "they made a strong case that the operators of the Orange County Needle Exchange Program were negligent when they operated their program at the Santa Ana Civic Center. They were good at distributing needles but not so good at collecting used ones."

And in their application to the state, the Orange County Needle Exchange Program made a startling admission.

They stated that since opening in February 2016, “We have collected over 2.25 million syringes, and distributed over 2.5 million syringes.” Their own statements demonstrate they were responsible for approximately 250,000 unaccounted for syringes left within the Santa Ana community. Their application seeks to give 20 needles for every one collected. Foley says, "that’s simply irresponsible."

The needle exchange operators conducted no public outreach in Costa Mesa. In fact, Foley and Stephens learned about the proposed program through social media.

Foley says, “the application failed to disclose to the 500 residences in the area and misled the state by claiming there were no homeowner associations when in fact the area contains numerous single-family homes and apartment complexes, as well as several mobile home parks that are largely occupied by seniors. Whittier Elementary School and Carden Hall private school are also in this area. Not to mention, there are approximately 1,500 business licenses issued within the area.”

Foley further stated that, "It’s a travesty for Costa Mesa families to endure these poorly approved plans by a state agency that fails to consider our own police chief’s research and data. We are on a dangerous path."
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Foley for Mayor 2018
Katrina Foley

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