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ACLU Steps Into the Fight to Stop Closure of Homeless Meals Kitchen in Orange

The country’s largest civil rights group is arguing City of Orange officials violated state transparency law when they decided behind closed doors to shutter Mary’s Kitchen, a longstanding soup kitchen.


Orange officials made that call in a closed-session meeting on July 13, out of the public eye, without proper “prior notice to the public that it was doing so,” wrote Sari Zureiqat of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California in a Sept. 10 warning letter to the city.


The letter is co-signed by attorney Brooke Wietzmann of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, which has represented homeless people in civil cases against the County of Orange and various cities.

“We are concerned this behavior violates the Brown Act in several ways and urge you to cure or correct these violations prior to September 18, the date that Mary’s Kitchen — a nonprofit that has served unhoused people at its current location since 1994 — is expected to vacate City Property,” the letter reads.


The Ralph M. Brown Act of 1953 is the statewide transparency law that is meant to govern how cities and counties handle public business in open meetings, like agenda posting requirements or limiting what can be discussed in private closed sessions.


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“We are concerned this behavior violates the Brown Act in several ways and urge you to cure or correct these violations prior to September 18, the date that Mary’s Kitchen — a nonprofit that has served unhoused people at its current location since 1994 — is expected to vacate City Property,” the letter reads.


The Ralph M. Brown Act of 1953 is the statewide transparency law that is meant to govern how cities and counties handle public business in open meetings, like agenda posting requirements or limiting what can be discussed in private closed sessions.


Orange City Hall spokesperson Paul Sitkoff responded to requests for comment with a text message reading “our Counsel has reviewed the suit and believes it to be without merit. We are currently preparing an appropriate response to the ACLU. Unfortunately, we can’t comment further at this time.”


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