Struggling with Illegal Camping, Part Two

After one day, the emerging results from Orange County’s struggles with illegal camping (so much like Sacramento) are noted in this follow-up story from Voice of OC.

An excerpt.

More than 100 homeless people were moved from the northeast section of the Santa Ana riverbed Tuesday, as part of a mass relocation effort by the County of Orange to clear a longstanding homeless encampment.

U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter lifted a temporary restraining order around 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, allowing the county to continue clearing the riverbed and arrest people if necessary.

By 6:30 p.m. Tuesday evening, a homeless encampment on the northeast section of the Santa Ana Riverbed was largely quiet and empty, with most of the residents gone, although several homeless people were still waiting for housing.

In the dark, Carter walked briskly through the encampment, passing mounds of trash, abandoned campsites, a small campfire and a group of men loading belongings into a U-Haul truck, with the sound of The Clash’s “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” blasting from a speaker.

By the end of the day on Tuesday, county officials reported they had housed over 100 people, largely in motels and some in shelters. They also said Sheriff’s deputies made no arrests of riverbed homeless people. One man who rode past the riverbed had an outstanding warrant and a weapon and was arrested.

An estimated 400 homeless people were living along the riverbed as of last Wednesday, Feb. 14. By the end of Tuesday, officials said they have removed more than 300 people, although it’s hard to estimate how many are left because of an influx of homeless people coming in seeking motel rooms.

“There’s not been one act of violence,” said Carter, congratulating county officials and attorneys who sued the county for collaborating on the effort.

On Jan. 22, the county began a drive to get homeless people to leave the riverbed camps near Angel Stadium.

A week after the evictions started, attorneys Carol Sobel and Brooke Weitzman filed a lawsuit on Jan. 29 on behalf of the nonprofit Catholic Worker and seven homeless people. On Feb. 6, Carter issued a temporary restraining order halting the evictions.

Attorneys, pressured by Carter to work together, hammered out a deal last week to begin evictions Tuesday with the understanding the county would provide at least 400 motel beds and other services, and open up extra spaces at shelters.

Those motel stays will last 30 days, and it’s unclear what will happen after that.

The mass relocation of homeless residents on the riverbed has been heavily publicized in the news media, drawing people from up and down the riverbed and from other parts of the county to the area to receive services.

Retrieved February 21, 2018 from

About David H Lukenbill

I am a native of Sacramento, as are my wife and daughter. I am a consultant to nonprofit organizations, and have a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Behavior and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from the University of San Francisco. We live along the American River with two cats and all the wild critters we can feed. I am the founding president of the American River Parkway Preservation Society and currently serve as the CFO and Senior Policy Director. I also volunteer as the President of The Lampstand Foundation, a nonprofit organization I founded in 2003.
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