Orange County Supervisors Rescind Plan to Put Homeless in Tent Camps by City Parks

Santa Ana homeless (Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty)
Frederic J. Brown / AFP / Getty
Newport Beach, CA

Throngs of protesters from Irvine, Huntington Beach, and Laguna Niguel shouted-down an Orange County Supervisors meeting to force a reversal of the plan to set up homeless tent camps next to local city parks.

Breitbart News noted on March 23 that officials from three local cities had been blindsided by an the supervisors’ plan, which was a way to end to avoid the $780,000 per month cost under a federal lawsuit settlement under which the county was renting 400 motel rooms per night to house 700 homeless people evicted from an area along the Santa Ana River bank.

Supervisors claimed that after a decade of litigation, the County of Orange was within its rights to set up interim homeless camps on county-owned properties to comply with a voluntary resettlement agreement negotiated by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter and signed on Feb. 26 with social-justice attorneys representing homeless plaintiffs. The terms of the deal required the county to recognize the civil rights of homeless people to have permanent county housing and to spend $90.5 million developing 2,700 transitional housing units.

With the cities gearing up to sue the county, about 2,500 mostly local homeowners from the affected cities showed up at the supervisors meeting in Santa Ana on March 27 to roar their opposition to being victimized by the county’s plan to offload its problem.

Waving hundreds of signs chanting, “No tent city!” and “Protect our community, protect our children,” many of the protesters complained about the risk to public health from transients with infectious diseases.

When OC Public Works cleaned up the Santa Ana River camp, it removed 5,279 pounds of human waste, 404 tons of trash, and 13,950 used hypodermic needles. Due to biohazard risk from tuberculosisShigella and Streptococcus, the county intends to burn 3 inches of topsoil along a bike trail, and then seal the area with an asphalt slurry.

Breitbart News reported that a hepatitis A outbreak began among San Diego’s homeless population and has spread statewide and entered the general population. The California Department of Public Health’s most recent bi-weekly hepatitis A report revealed 703 new cases, 460 hospitalizations, and 21 deaths.

The blowback from angry voters caused the five members of the Orange County Board of Supervisors that had voted unanimously for the new encampments, to reverse course and promise to find an alternative solution, such as setting up a 400-bed portable shelter on an old Navy runway at the Great Park.

But a new controversy has arisen in Costa Mesa, after Supervisor Shawn Nelson said he is backing State Senator John Moorlach’s (R-Costa Mesa) plan to house homeless at the Fairview Development Center in Costa Mesa, according to the Orange County Register.

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