A wave of local ordinances banning needle exchange programs is sweeping southern Placer County after a controversial application was filed with state officials to offer syringes for home delivery.
The city of Rocklin approved an ordinance on Tuesday, banning syringe exchange programs from operating within the city limits. According to the meeting, the municipal council unanimously adopted an emergency ordinance and a second ordinance in case the emergency ordinance is contested.
City council members raised concerns about the lack of transparency in the proposal submitted by Safer Alternatives through Network and Education, known as SANE, which proposed distributing 200,000 syringes to addresses in Auburn, Loomis, Lincoln, Roseville and Rocklin.
“Participants can request a discreet delivery through a designated phone line and expect a delivery the same or next business day,” the application said. “Home delivery and pickup will be available in the southwest areas of Placer County.”
The city of Lincoln met Tuesday to discuss SANE’s application and give city staff direction on drafting an emergency ordinance, according to the meeting agenda.
And the city of Loomis adopted an emergency ordinance identical to the one approved by the Placer County Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting.
“The main reason for this ordinance to be in place is that there are no current laws or statutes in California that allow such a (syringe-exchange) program … to be instituted in the absence of any ordinance or law, so I think that’s why the trend is growing in this region,” said Lt. Josh Tindall of the Placer County Sheriff’s Office to the Loomis Town Council. “Passing such an ordinance does not necessarily speak to the empathy or show a lack of empathy for anyone with any type of substance abuse problem.”
The Auburn City Council also passed an emergency ordinance in its meeting Monday night. Auburn Police Chief Ryan Kinnan said he supported the ordinance in Monday’s meeting, citing concerns about how dirty needles are disposed of.
“There are a lot of concerns about this model and this program coming into the city of Auburn and the area in general,” he said.
SANE’s proposal has faced significant backlash since Sheriff Wayne Woo and Probation Chief Marshall Hopper submitted a letter of opposition to state officials, saying it lacked transparency and evidence to support its practices.
Woo and Hopper also raised concerns about the “unintended consequences” of a needle exchange in Placer County. The letter cited examples of other needle exchange programs in Seattle and Santa Ana that did not require drug users to turn in dirty hypodermic needles, resulting in needles leaving public spaces.
“The Placer County Sheriff’s Office is absolutely opposed to any program that normalizes and promotes illegal drug use in this County,” the letter said.
The Roseville City Council will meet next Wednesday. An agenda for the meeting will be posted early next week.
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