OC hotel opts out of plan to house homeless COVID-19 patients after protests from retirement community

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Tuesday, April 7, 2020
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Residents of Laguna Woods Village feared the hotel would become a coronavirus hotspot and pose a major risk to the mostly older community.

LAGUNA WOODS, Calif. (KABC) -- Plans to house homeless coronavirus patients at an Orange County hotel have been scrapped after several days of protests from a neighboring retirement community.

Residents of Laguna Woods Village, a 55-and-over community, feared the Ayres Hotel would become a virus hotspot and pose a major risk to the mostly older community. The retirement community makes up most of the city of Laguna Woods.

Opponents of the plan say protests and threats of a lawsuit led to the reversal.

RELATED: Protests continue over OC hotel for homeless COVID-19 patients in retirement community

"Our village is protected and we can move forward in a safe manner," said Jeff Parker, CEO of Laguna Woods Village.

The Ayres Hotel chain released a statement Monday saying it listened to it's neighbors in the city of Laguna Woods and was successfully able to get out of its contract with the county.

The hotel had plans to lease the 138-bed property to the county to become a temporary housing and medical facility for homeless people who have already contracted COVID-19 or are at high risk.