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Costa Mesa officials look to next steps after Fairview facility nixed as quarantine site

With the Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa now off the table as a quarantine site, local leaders plan to regroup rather than rejoice.

When federal agencies on Friday abandoned their proposal to use Fairview to house California residents returning from the cruise ship Diamond Princess who had tested positive for coronavirus but did not need hospital care, it ended the city’s legal challenge. But some elected officials don’t think this is the last time the nearly empty center will be suggested as a stopgap solution.

City and county officials met last week with state and federal representatives hoping to get questions answered but left unsatisfied, setting the two sides up for a Monday, March 2,  showdown in U.S. District Judge Josephine L. Staton’s courtroom. But the next day, the federal Department of Health and Human Services filed court papers seeking to dismiss the issue because they no longer planned to use Fairview.

In the filing, federal officials said they had “made other arrangements” for the “unexpectedly small number of passengers” who they had intended to bring to Orange County.

“We are going to continue to have outside influencers trying to use the (center) for whatever solution they think it might be needed for,” Costa Mesa Mayor Katrina Foley said Monday, March 2. “Until we develop that site into a new community and a new use, it’s going to be a constant source of struggle for our city.”

City leaders will regroup to discuss next steps to try to prevent Fairview being used “in a way that is not for the benefit of the residents of Costa Mesa,” Foley said.

The state owns the center’s 114-acre property and does not legally need the city’s approval to make decisions on its use. State officials were cooperating with federal agencies on the Fairview quarantine plan, but city leaders have said they got very little information, some of it conflicting, about how the site would be managed as a quarantine location and the health of the surrounding community would be protected.

State Sen. John Moorlach, whose district includes Costa Mesa, said he’s satisfied with the outcome of the Fairview situation, but “what has me frustrated still is that out of some 37,000 (state-owned) sites that the state could look at, that the only one that was on the list was Fairview.”

California Health and Human Services Agency officials have since said they’re looking at other sites in case they’re needed for quarantine or isolation, Moorlach said.

He said legislators previously budgeted $2.1 million to study possible future uses for the Fairview property, and he’d like to see that get done. As of this month, all residents have moved out of the facility, which was for decades a home for people with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Foley noted that other legislation committed the state to work with the city and county on long-term plans for the center. That bill requires the state to hold a hearing and take public input before transferring the property for reuse.

Source: Orange County Register

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