LAGUNA WOODS (CBSLA) — Following days of protests from seniors living in Laguna Woods Village, the Ayres Hotel announced Monday the company would not be moving forward with plans to house homeless coronavirus patients for treatment at the hotel.
“Ayres Hotels understands the importance of assisting the County of Orange in this public health emergency, easing the burden on our local hospitals and minimizing the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our communities” the company said in a statement. “These are unprecedented times and while originally two of our properties were selected by the county, we have listened to our valued neighbors in the City of Laguna Woods. Given the property’s unique and close proximity to the large senior citizen community, we have been able to work with the county and will be granted immediate release from our contract at Ayres Laguna Woods.”
Orange County officials entered into the agreement with the hotel chain April 2 to quickly move people indoors comes amid fears that an outbreak in the vulnerable population could strain an already fragile health care system.
But as soon as that agreement was reached, the seniors living in the community across the street aired their frustration with the decision by taking to the streets with homemade signs.
“Why would they put this right near where we live,” Fran Garbo, a Laguna Woods Village resident, said in a Friday protest. “This is where we live. Right across the street, that is where we shop, the drug store, the grocery store.”
The company said in a statement that it heard the concerns of the residents and did not want to “add more fear or worry to our neighbors.”
Ayres Hotels said that it would continue its contract with the county for the ALO Hotel in Orange, which the company said was in close proximity to several medical facilities and would operate under strict isolation protocols.
“Care for our neighbors is the utmost priority, weighing also the needs of the community as a whole,” the statement said.