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Needle Resolution Set for Council Approval


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By Jorge Casuso

April 5, 2024 -- The City Council Tuesday is expected to approve a tersely worded resolution that "strongly demands" that LA County Health relocate its needle distribution program indoors.

The resolution comes after County Health officials indicated during a hybrid community meeting March 29 that they have no plans to relocate the program currently run for one hour a week from a van stationed mainly at Reed Park.

At its March 19 meeting, the Council narrowly approved giving staff direction to draft the resolution, which denounces the County's distribution method but supports harm reduction needle exchange programs.

After providing a list of reasons that include a State Health Code requirement that local officials and the public be given input on the program every two years, the draft resolution reads as follows:

"SECTION 1. The City of Santa Monica supports harm reduction as an important tool to connect individuals to healthcare, behavioral health, and substance abuse resources but objects to the County of Los Angeles Substance Abuse Prevention and Control Bureau’s (County) distribution of clean needles and other drug paraphernalia in parks or near schools.

SECTION 2. The City strongly demands that the County relocate the distribution of clean needles and other drug paraphernalia indoors, away from City parks and schools and that the program should require a one for one exchange of clean for used needles.

SECTION 3. This resolution shall be transmitted to County officials.

SECTION 4. The City Clerk shall certify to the adoption of this Resolution, and thenceforth and thereafter the same shall be in full force and effect."

If approved, as expected, the resolution would come more than a year and a half after the Council sent a letter asking County officials to immediately relocate the program indoors ("Council Expected to Ask County's Help Removing Clean Needle Program from Parks," September 12, 2022).

A month later, the City received a response arguing against the move ("Little Progress Moving Needle Exchange Program Indoors," March 23, 2023).

Further efforts by individual Councilmembers also have failed.

City officials aren't the only ones pressuring the county. In February, the Santa Monica Coalition filed a seeking to halt the outdoor program ("Santa Monica Group Files Lawsuit Over Needle Program," February 16, 2024).

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