We reported a few weeks ago about why the homeless crisis was happening in Newport, specifically (long story short: Newport needs a homeless shelter in order to move the homeless from the streets, and Newport doesn’t have one).
Readers asked the obvious question: now that we know why it is happening, what can we do to solve it, and when can we expect this tide to begin turning?
This answer is much more complex.
As we reported, Costa Mesa has a homeless shelter– so can Newport partner with them to use their shelter?
The technical and legal answer is “yes”, but the political answer– right now– is “no”.
Costa Mesa residents have felt for the last 20 years that Newport Beach has been “throwing their trash over the fence onto Costa Mesa’s side of the border”, as one resident put it, and they aren’t happy with the idea of Newport paying Costa Mesa a bunch of money to continue to do that.
Newport Beach has no politically-practical location to put a homeless shelter, as all areas in the city are either filled with multi-million dollar homes, or, in the case of the airport-area, the businesses of political donors.
The first attempt was to ask Costa Mesa to share their shelter. Politicians from both sides seem to indicate that these discussions happened behind closed doors. Both sides agree that the message they parted with was– essentially– Costa Mesa giving a “firm no”– essentially, getting a “one up” on the big brother (Newport) that always ruined his toys and now is begging for a favor.
In other words: Costa Mesa said that since Newport has been offloading into their community for 2-3 decades, that this time, Newport’s gotta figure out the problem for themselves.
It is easy to understand why they might feel that way– it is in large part… true.
But what is the solution? Well, since building a shelter inside the boundaries of Newport Beach will cost millions, upset millionaire homeowners and businesses, and since running for Council in Costa Mesa only costs about $100k, is it easier to build one inside of Newport with millions of dollars in consequences, or to have Newport powerhouses fund the elections of friendly candidates in Costa Mesa?
The answer is obvious.
Most surreptitious funding is done through what rides a fine line of money laundering. This is where “big donors” in one area (like Newport) donate to the County Party (OC GOP, in this case) with a caveat. Now, these caveats are illegal, so they are done with a handshake instead of paperwork. They donate, for example, $100,000 to the OC GOP but specifically say they want candidates in Costa Mesa who will support sharing a homeless shelter with Newport Beach. The party then takes that money, spends some percentage of it on county-related things, and the other massive percentage they spend on “voter education”.
“Voter education” is when they mail things out like “Candidate X is terrible, look at all the things he’s done in the past!” or, “Candidate Y is the best, he’s the endorsed candidate by the OC GOP!”. Voters read this, vote accordingly, and the “right” candidates (according to the party) get elected.
Since there was recently an election cycle ending in 2020, it is likely that the homeless problem will get worse over the next 2 years, until Newport is able to reach an agreement with Costa Mesa. If Newport isn’t able to, then it is very likely that there will be some “outside funding” to the Costa Mesa City Council races in 2022.
In short: It is likely that the problem will get worse before it gets better. And if it doesn’t get better soon, it is likely that Costa Mesa will have some big players in their next election cycle. It is important to note that we at SaveNewport do not advocate for any of this, but simply reporting on the political landscape as it stands today.