August 27, 2018 – The Association of California Cities—Orange County strongly supports the cities of Costa Mesa, Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and the County of Orange in their effort to stop the permit of the mobile Orange County Needle Exchange Program (OCNEP).
For years, the OCNEP was housed in the City of Santa Ana. Earlier this year the City terminated their MOU with the program based on the impacts that the program had on their community and residents, which included rampant littering of used needles on their streets and in public spaces. This can be attributed to OCNEP distribution model, which allows participants to exchange one dirty needle for 20 clean ones, up to 200 needles. In the opinion of many law enforcement agencies this model attracts drug users to communities without substantially addressing the underlying causes of drug addiction. Without addressing any of these concerns, or creating a plan of action to address them in the future, the OCNEP applied for a state permit that would allow them to operate in four cities in a mobile setup. The permit was approved by the State over the objection of the cities and their residents.
These programs are most successful when held to high standards and done in true partnership with the cities they operate within. We strongly oppose the State bypassing the cities and their legitimate concerns over the operational nature of these programs, and will support these cities as they pursue their legal options to ensure their local authority on these matters is respected. When the State does not respect local control, issues like the placement of a needle exchange program are exacerbated by its interference.
The Association believes strongly in local control and stands ready to assist our cities and communities in any way they may need.