Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services (LASOC-CLS) achieves victory in court on behalf of low-income residents of Huntington Beach.

Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services (LASOC-CLS) achieves victory in court on behalf of low-income residents of Huntington Beach.

In March 2018, plaintiffs in Kennedy Commission v. Huntington Beach filed a First Amended Petition in Superior Court, alleging that the City of Huntington Beach violated housing laws by adopting a specific plan amendment that prevents affordable housing from being built in the city. The city’s decision makes it even more difficult for low-income Huntington Beach residents to find housing in the city.

On June 7, 2018, the Court rejected the city’s arguments that the case should be dismissed, allowing Plaintiffs to proceed with discovery and litigation.

“This case is about making sure that low-income Huntington Beach residents are included in the government’s calculation,” said Sarah Gregory, lead attorney with LASOC-CLS. “The city must accommodate affordable housing units to ensure the well-being and stability of its residents, many of whom have been unable to keep up with the skyrocketing rents in their city.”

The Huntington Beach City Council adopted the Beach Edinger Corridor Specific Plan Amendment (“BECSP Amendment”) on May 4, 2015, despite months of efforts by the Kennedy Commission and the two displaced veterans, who had been forced to leave Huntington Beach due to the lack of affordable housing in the city. The City of Huntington Beach had refused to comply with previous court orders, continued to enforce the BECSP Amendment, and appealed a January 20, 2016 judgment in favor of the Petitioners.

The BECSP Amendment effectively blocked any low-cost housing in the City, imposing a development cap, burdensome parking, setback, height, and use restrictions, and costly and time-consuming discretionary permit requirements. “This years-long effort to force the city to simply comply with state law and its own Housing Element, the ‘Constitution’ for development, reminds all of us that we must remain vigilant to ensure the inclusion of affordable housing.” said Gregory.




On February 7, 2018, the Legal Aid Society of Orange County filed a lawsuit against the County of Orange for discriminatory actions taken against homeless individuals with disabilities who currently reside at the Santa Ana Riverbed. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of People’s Homeless Task Force, a homeless advocacy association, and seven homeless individuals who live at the Riverbed.

On January 22, 2018, the County began the process of evicting hundreds of people living at the Riverbed, the majority of whom experience mental or physical disabilities, or both. Although the County had previously committed to relocating every willing homeless person on the Riverbed to appropriate housing and services before requiring them to leave, the County buckled under mounting political pressure and began sweeping the Riverbed even though hundreds of people had not yet accessed the County’s services. The lawsuit alleges that the County’s program and its sudden eviction of Riverbed residents before the program was completed are discriminatory because its actions deny individuals living on the Riverbed access to the benefits of the County’s services by reason of their disabilities.

“My team and I were retained by desperate homeless residents living in substandard conditions with hopes of accessing the services and housing options promised by the County so that they could successfully exit the Riverbed encampments. Despite weeks of working with the County to seek reasonable solutions for our clients, it was clear that County services are so inadequate that they would only cause further harm to individuals with disabilities,” said Lili Graham, Director of Litigation at the Legal Aid Society of Orange County. “The County has identified the complex needs of the homeless in obtaining significant funds from the state and federal governments, yet much of that money has gone unspent. The County must take a hard look at the implementation of its program and work with knowledgeable professionals to create viable long-term solutions for chronically homeless individuals. A mass eviction of the County’s most vulnerable residents is not a solution.”

The lawsuit alleges that Orange County has nearly $700 million in unspent funds available to end homelessness, including $146 million for housing vouchers, $8 million for affordable housing, $67.5 million for mental health treatment and residential care, and nearly $227 million in CalWORKS funding. However, the County’s continued lack of willingness to implement long-term solutions to end homelessness has left these vast funding reserves largely untapped.

Plaintiffs are represented by Lili Graham, Sarah J. Gregory, and Michelle Kim Kotval, attorneys from the Legal Aid Society of Orange County.

Editorial contact: Lili Graham | 714.571.5282 | lgraham@legal-aid.com

About Legal Aid Society of Orange County

The Legal Aid Society of Orange County is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing free legal aid services to our community’s most vulnerable populations: veterans, the homeless, families, and low-income individuals. For over 58 years, LASOC has spread its services— advocacy, legal counseling, community education, and legal representation—throughout Orange County and southeast Los Angeles to bring equal access to justice for all.

New Workshop: Limited Conservatorship en Español

LASOC/CLS would like to announce that our Limited Conservatorship Workshop will now be offering it’s first workshop specifically for Spanish-speaking litigants. The first Spanish Workshop will be held on Monday, February 6th at 12:00pm in the Santa Ana Court in Room A-100. The workshop will explain what a Limited Conservatorship is, the process for obtaining a Limited Conservatorship, common problems and a review of the forms needed to obtain a limited conservatorship.

We will likely hold this workshop in Spanish at least one more time during the year. Therefore, this is a rare opportunity. If you would like to attend our Limited Conservatorship Workshop in English, it is the first Monday of every month at the Santa Ana Court in Room A-100, with the exception of holidays.

Community Legal Services is Seeking Volunteers in Southeast Los Angeles County

Community Legal Services is Seeking Volunteers in Southeast Los Angeles County


We are looking for volunteers who are interested in placement with LASOC’s Compton/Norwalk Office as well as corresponding Courthouse Self-Help Center and Restraining Order Clinic. Learn about family law, civil matters, restraining orders and unlawful detainers.

This position is perfect for paralegal or law students wanting to network and gain experience in the field.

Benefits of the Position:

  • Gain experience in the legal field – no prior experience necessary
  • Join a community of passionate legal professionals
  • Give back to your community
  • Great resume builder
  • Flexible schedule
  • English and multilingual help needed, especially Spanish

Desired Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree or paralegal certificate
  • Certified paralegals, paralegal and law students preferred
  • Basic knowledge of the legal system
  • Attention to detail
  • Empathy for our diverse client community and workforce
  • Passion for justice and advocacy

To apply, please e-mail resume and cover letter to Christine Martin at cmartin@legal-aid.com.


LASOC Welcomes Summer Law Student Intern Class of 2014

LASOC Welcomes Summer Law Student Intern Class of 2014

With the end of the 2014 school year, Legal Aid Society of Orange County and Community Legal Services of Southeast Los Angeles County has welcomed a new class of summer law student interns.  Every summer, LASOC and CLS accept interns from law schools all over Southern California (and sometimes the state and country) to serve our local client community.  PAIlawyers_resize

This year’s interns hail from Whittier Law School, Western State, UCLA, Pepperdine, Southwestern, USC, Loyola, Chapman, Trinity Law School, UCI and more.  They also represent all class levels: 1L, 2L, and 3L.  In both Los Angeles and Orange counties, they will serve victims of domestic violence, assist in eviction defense, attend to divorce and child custody cases, and lend services to administrative law cases such as termination or suspension of government benefits and elder law.

We are excited to share that our interns have already begun important work for our low-income families and senior citizens in the area.  Our interns will provide their services researching, writing, and (for those who are certified) representing our clients under the supervision of our dedicated staff attorneys.  During their internships, these interns will gain invaluable lawyering skills, such as interviewing and identifying fact patterns, all while serving clients who may otherwise not have another chance.

Congratulations, and welcome!



Wise Words: The Red Flags of Elder Abuse

The Senior Citizens Legal Advocacy Program (SCLAP) provides free civil legal services to Orange County residents age 60 and over.  SCLAP is a part of the Legal Aid Society of Orange County (LASOC), which provides free civil legal services to persons of limited means and seniors living in Orange and southeast Los Angeles County.  In providing legal services to older Orange County residents, we are well aware of the growing incidents of elder abuse.

Orange County has about 496,404 residents age 60 and older, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.  Studies have shown that an estimated 1 in 10 community-dwelling older Americans will become a victim of abuse or neglect.  Research has also shown that elder abuse is significantly under-reported, with approximately 23 cases unreported for every reported instance of elder abuse.  There are certain risk factors that can be useful in anticipating the likelihood of abuse.  In her article, When the going gets tough:  caregiving and abuse, author Mary Twomey notes that caregiver characteristics associated with mistreatment include higher anxiety, depressive symptoms, fewer social contacts and greater perceived burden.  Care recipients who are isolated, have cognitive impairment and who themselves are physically or psychologically aggressive are at greater risk for abuse.

With the growing elderly population, the increase in the number of elderly experiencing dementia and related diseases, and the anticipated rise in abuse, it is important to be aware of the Risk Factors for abuse.  Elder abuse includes not only physical abuse, but psychological and financial abuse as well as neglect.  Some of the Red Flag warning signs of physical abuse may include inadequately explained fractures, bruises, cuts or burns.  Red Flag warning signs of psychological abuse may include the isolation of an elder or actions by a caregiver that are verbally aggressive or demeaning, controlling behavior or neglect.  Red Flag warning signs for financial abuse can include a change in living standards, unable to meet basic needs, or transferring property or authority when unable to understand the nature of the transaction.  Signs of self-neglect can include a lack of basic cleanliness, lack of adequate food, inappropriate clothing and unexplained sores or injuries.

We are very fortunate in Orange County to have excellent resources addressing elder abuse issues.  The UCI Center of Excellence on Elder Abuse and Neglect has helpful information on its website about events and resources regarding elder abuse.  The Ageless Alliance, a nationwide social justice movement seeking to promote the dignity of older adults and to end elder abuse, was launched by the UCI Division of Geriatric Medicine and Gerontology.  The Ageless Alliance is active in Orange County and is promoting Elder Abuse Awareness Day, which will take place June 15th.

We all need to be aware of the signs of elder abuse and what to do if we suspect that elder abuse is occurring.  In Orange County, you can call Adult Protective Services to make a confidential report or to discuss making a report.  The APS phone number is 1- 800-451-5155.  If you suspect that abuse is occurring in a residential care facility, you can contact the Orange County Council on Aging – Long-Term Care Ombudsman at 1-800-300-6222.  If you suspect abuse of an elder that takes place outside of Orange County, you can call the national Eldercare Locator, a public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging, at 1-800-677-1116, for a referral to the appropriate organization.