Orange City Council Approves Taking Legal Action to Halt Needle-Exchange Program

Another Orange County city has decided to take legal action to stop a proposed needle-exchange program from starting up within its boundaries.

The Orange City Council on Monday voted 5-0 to authorize the city attorney to initiate litigation against the California Department of Public Health and the Orange County Needle Exchange Program (OCNEP) to halt the program’s activities in the city of Orange, a city news release read.

Council members believed this action was necessary to protect the health and safety of Orange residents and visitors, according to city officials.

Previously, OCNEP provided needle-exchange services in Santa Ana, which declined to renew its permit earlier this year after “significant health and safety issues were brought to their attention,” the news release stated.

The state health department approved OCNEP’s new application to provide services to several other cities, despite strong opposition from the city of Orange and local law enforcement officials, according to the statement.

On Friday, the Orange County Board of Supervisors approved filing a lawsuit to stop the needle-exchange program from starting up in the area. Later that same day, the Costa Mesa City Council joined the county in the lawsuit to halt the initiative.

The exchange program was set to begin on Monday.

Opponents have said that the needle exchange would hurt the community by bringing more crime and discarded syringes to the streets. Meanwhile, supporters said it aims to help stop the spread of HIV and hepatitis C.

OCNEP told KTLA in an emailed statement on Friday that it would be waiting until September to begin operating in order to continue working with local representatives in each city.

“We will continue as planned and look forward to serving our community,” the statement read.