Ferrer, L.A. County Health Department Sued over Needle Distribution

Palisades resident and  Santa Monica businessman John Alle documented transients  receiving “sharps” at Parks. Needles were found in Santa Monica Park and in storm drains.
Photo: John Alle/Santa Monica Coalition

The Santa Monica Coalition founders announced on February 15, it has filed a lawsuit against County Health Director Barbara Ferrer, the Los Angeles County Health Department, and the Venice Family Clinic (as a real party of interest), in connection with an ongoing needle distribution program.

A Palisades resident John Alle discovered used needles and condoms littering three Santa Monica parks, Palisades, Reed and Tongva. He learned a needle-exchange program had started in 2019 through L.A. County Department of Public Health under Dr. Barbara Ferrer.

Circling the News learned that the budget for the needle program, which is sometimes called “harm reduction” has been increased this year from $5.4 to $31.5 million (tax-payer dollars).

In the lawsuit, The Santa Monica Coalition alleges the Los Angeles County Health Department failed to comply with Health and Safety Code § 121349, which requires consultation with local law enforcement before a needle program is authorized, failed to have a plan in place to collect data in order to assess the impact of the program, and failed to conduct or assess the environmental review required by the state with regard to public disposal of needles in the grassy areas of the park and near storm drains.

Alle wrote in an email to CTN that “It’s sad Santa Monica endorses the program in its parks. This year the Easter Egg Hunt planned for one of the parks has to be moved, because of the possibility of finding needles. Hopefully the County will move the program into enclosed buildings and The Coalition lawsuit won’t have to go to court.”

Another resident wrote to Alle in an email, that was shared with CTN that “The County contractor (VFC) is not in compliance with county health codes regarding disposal of hazardous waste.

“There is no hospital, clinic, medical or dental office, phlebotomy lab or pharmacy operating in this county that can ignore properly disposing of medical waste, including hazardous waste like sharps (needles and syringes).

“If these organizations ignore protocol and fail to keep adequate records of this waste, they do so at their peril and stand to lose their license to operate,” the resident wrote.

“It is unacceptable that the County ran a needle program and was allowed to ignore health codes essential to maintaining public health, codes that the County established for all. The County acknowledges their needle program does not collect each sharp after use. I think we can agree that’s not just hypocritical, it’s a significant public health threat.”

The needle distribution continues in Reed Park, Palisades Park along Ocean Avenue, and Tongva Park.

This editor reached out to Ferrer’s office last May about the needle program, and on May 31, CTN received the following email “Harm reduction services have been demonstrated to reduce overdose deaths, reduce the public use of injectable drugs, reduce transmission of communicable diseases such as HIV/AID and hepatitis, increase access to substance use services, reduce the use of emergency medical services, and prevent the disruption of public safety.”

CTN asked for the stats that show that the program works. None were supplied.

The Santa Monica Coalition emphasizes in its lawsuit that it is not addressing the advantages or disadvantages of the needle distribution program but focusing its efforts solely on moving the program from Santa Monica’s parks, public areas, private property without the owners’ permission, and into County or City-owned buildings with direct medical supervision and support services.

The Coalition has photos of discarded needles in all corners of the parks, in or near storm drains, near picnic benches, and in grassy areas of the parks.

This lawsuit is the first of its kind to be filed by a resident and business owners’ group that bypasses its own City leadership.

For more information, click here

Venice Family Clinic van distributes needles at a Santa Monica Park.





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One Response to Ferrer, L.A. County Health Department Sued over Needle Distribution

  1. Diane Bleak says:

    Worst program ever thought of.
    Giving drug supplies to drug addicts, made no sense

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