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Officials in Orange County can move forward with a plan to convert a 76-room hotel in Laguna Hills into temporary housing for homeless people in an effort to prevent a surge of deadly coronavirus cases from spreading in the community, a judge ruled Monday.

The county brokered an agreement this month with Elite Hospitality Inc. to lease the Laguna Hills Inn for at least 90 days to shelter homeless individuals who are over 65, have underlying health conditions, are showing symptoms of COVID-19 or who have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The county had hoped to begin moving people into the hotel last week. However, their plans were delayed when Laguna Hills — a city of roughly 31,000 people in the southern section of the county — filed a lawsuit against the hotel’s owner, the county and a nonprofit specializing in homeless outreach in an attempt to block the effort.

City officials, and the owners of four buildings adjacent to the hotel, alleged the project would put the surrounding community at risk and would violate restrictions outlined in the property’s covenants, conditions and restrictions, or CC&Rs.

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