Steve Chan

August 14, 2018 

Needle Exchange Opposition

** This was published in the Los Angeles Times & Daily Pilot August 14, 2018, under Letters to the Editor.

Most council members and candidates are late in expressing opposition to needle exchange

The Orange County Needle Exchange Program approved by the California Department of Public Health had a lengthy 90-day comment period, open to the public, to aid in the decision process.

Four cities - Santa Ana, Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa - were targeted for the needle exchange program.

In the past week, two Costa Mesa council members submitted published letters to the editor that were in equal disdain for the needle exchange. As a candidate for City Council District 4, I have been very concerned because of the proximity of the exchange site to my neighbors and the potential for negative impacts.

In trying to understand the state's thinking in approving this project, I submitted a public information request asking for all council members' and current candidates' letters sent to the state that would have have been considered in the decision process. I was shocked to learn that council members John Stephens, Katrina Foley, Jim Righeimer and Allan Mansoor apparently did not submit a protest on behalf of their constituents.

"California's Department of Public Health may have made their decision to APPROVE the mobile needle exchange in Costa Mesa, in the face of very little public opposition. Only one member (Mayor Sandy Genis) of the Costa Mesa City Council wrote in opposition to the program during the 90-day long public comment period."

Mayor Sandy Genis sent a comprehensive and thorough counter against the program. Of all the district candidates, only Arlis Reynolds, Michelle Figueredo-Wilson and myself wrote comments in an attempt to protect our city and stop the needle distribution.

My inquiry and public information request indicated that the entire council, except for Mayor Genis, did not address this issue directly to the state, instead remaining silent, then jumped on the train after it had left the station.

I felt it was my obligation to address the needle exchange because of the dire consequences it would have on my city and my district. I expected those in public office and those wanting to hold public office to have the same concern. I was wrong and disappointed on both counts.