Regional Effort to Address Homelessness


In an effort to comply with a Federal Mandate as well as recent case law, Martin v. Boise (2018), the North Specific Planning Area (SPA), comprised of the cities of Placentia, Brea, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, La Habra, La Palma, Los Alamitos, Orange, Villa Park, Stanton, and Yorba Linda have collaborated on a regional approach to address homelessness in the North SPA.

Based on the local mandate by U.S. District Federal Judge David Carter, cities in the North SPA were required to work on a homeless housing plan for the region, which includes creating Navigation Centers designed to house and service North Orange County cities’ homeless population. The requirement for North SPA was to create Navigation Centers that would provide comprehensive supportive services, including vocational services, recreational services, mental health, transportation services, and 200 beds to the homeless residents of the North Orange County region. If cities did not comply with the mandate to add emergency housing, they would not legally be able to keep the homeless from creating an encampment in public areas, such as city halls, senior centers, parks and neighborhood sidewalks, including sidewalks in front of residents’ homes.

This decision, along with the recent Orange County Federal Court case presiding under Judge Carter, significantly limits the City’s ability to manage and control homeless proliferation and public camping in our community. In order to comply with these Federal requirements and court decisions and to ensure that the City maintains local control over the enforcement of its own anti-camping ordinance in public areas, including public sidewalks, the City of Placentia, along with the North SPA cities identified two locations for Navigation Centers – one in Placentia and one in Buena Park. 

History of Placentia Navigation Center

On Tuesday January 15, 2019 City Administrator Damien Arrula provided a comprehensive presentation to the City Council and the public on homelessness in Placentia and encampment areas throughout the City. After extensive Council discussion, the Council agreed to have Staff further analyze homelessness in the City, conduct its due diligence on the proposed site, and conduct community meetings to receive feedback from the community.

After receiving community input, as well as site evaluations, 731 S. Melrose Street, which is located in an industrial portion of the City, was purchased to serve as a Navigation Center. The location was identified as a suitable location for safely housing persons that are experiencing homelessness as well as addressing the following factors: 

  • Siting for Industrial zone (meets SB2 zone criteria)
  • Community feedback
  • Property is available for purchase and can accommodate up to 100 beds per Federal Lawsuit
  • Proximity to residential areas
  • Cost of construction, suitable security and operational plan, and well-managed wraparound services. 

Placentia Navigation Center Grand Opening

The City held a virtual grand opening of the Navigation Center on March 30, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. via Facebook Live at To view the virtual grand opening video on YouTube, please visit

The Navigation Center officially opened to the homeless on March 31, 2020. During the first week of opening, there were 67 homeless individuals were referred and admitted to the Placentia Navigation Center.

On April 1, 2020 the City began the enforcement of its anticamping ordinance and clean up at Industrial Way and on April 2nd at Crowther Avenue. Persons camping on the public sidewalk were offered immediate shelter at the Navigation Center. Persons declining offered shelter were given a warning and an opportunity to immediately leave the location before engaging in citation/and or arrest.

Management and Operations of the Placentia Navigation Center

The management and operational plan for the Placentia Navigation Center specify certain requirements to ensure local control for providing safe and secure housing as well as providing comprehensive programs and services. The Placentia Navigation Center, operated by People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), is a referral-only based facility with managed and controlled access in and out via transportation only.  The Navigation Center works to not only house the homeless but to provide health resources, counseling, job and social skills, and opportunities to reunite with family and friends, with the goal of integrating North Orange County’s homeless to become productive members of society while decreasing the number of homeless in public areas. 

Reporting Homelessness In Placentia

The City’s mobile App, iPlacentia, has a Homelessness Concerns section as well as the ability to report Abandoned Items or report Homeless Encampments in the City. Visit the App Store or GooglePlay to download iPlacentia today and stay up-to-date, as well as report concerns.

Additional Resources