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SANTA ANA : Church Shelter Plan Draws City Warning

January 22, 1992|JON NALICK

Leaders of a downtown church have vowed to provide shelter for homeless people on nights when the local armory cannot, despite a warning from the Planning Department that the action may violate city codes.

The Rev. Brad Karelius, spokesman for the Episcopal Church of the Messiah, said that under the plan about 50 to 70 people would be housed there but only on four nights when the armory is being used for drills and only if the weather is cold and rainy those days.

However, he recently received a letter from the city Planning Department saying that "while the city recognizes the need to provide shelter in adverse conditions, your facility is not in an appropriate zone for the operation of a shelter."

On Tuesday, Karelius said that he had since "talked to an attorney and we felt strong enough to say that we feel that is an incorrect interpretation. I fully intend to be open those nights and offer that service."

Two of the affected nights have passed, but the weather was warm enough that the church did not open the shelter. The two remaining nights are Jan. 29 and March 5.

"This is really in a time where the climate is life-endangering," he said.

City planners familiar with the church's plan could not immediately be reached for comment.

Karelius said that he hoped to meet with planning officials by Thursday and "be able to talk this through. . . . We really feel that we're doing the right thing here. Churches have a historic mandate to provide this kind of service."

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