U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter has spelled out exactly what he expects county and city leaders to present to him in early June when he convenes court again in the ongoing civil rights case over homeless people displaced from the Santa Ana River Trail.
“I want sites,” the judge said at a hearing Friday, May 25, in Santa Ana that was hastily called to discuss the relocation of people from an Anaheim motel where they were sent to receive mental health services after the county cleared the tent encampments in late February.
Carter, who has the power to grant a restraining order that would suspend anti-camping ordinances enacted to prevent homeless people from settling in local communities, called for three emergency facilities – in north, central and south Orange County – to supplement the Courtyard shelter in Santa Ana and Bridges at Kraemer Place in Anaheim.
The judge added that he doesn’t want to hear any more about committees to study the issue or collaborations being formed. He wanted tangible action – locations and the political will to move forward with getting people off the streets.
“If you’re still studying it,” Carter said, “then I know you’re playing around.”
The judge indicated that a joint effort in the north part of the county is close to settling on a possible location. Representatives of the cities of Anaheim, Buena Park and Fullerton met with Carter earlier this month to discuss their mutual effort. The judge has had numerous other informal discussions – in person and by phone – with county and city representatives in addition to inviting them to attend court hearings.
Carter said he is willing to extend the patience engendered by the “good faith” efforts he’s seen so far as officials try to catch up after decades of neglect on homelessness, but wants city representatives back in court June 13. He also called for another “big tent” meeting July 16, similar to others he’s held in the past where he’s called on elected officials, city managers, law enforcement, homeless people and their advocates, and others in the community working on solutions.
“I have to have emergency intake, fairly dispersed around the county,” Carter said.
The low-threshold Courtyard shelter, opened at an old bus terminal in October 2016, now sleeps more than 400 people; Carter said he’d like to see that number below 380. He also called for easing the burden on the Bridges at Kraemer transitional shelter.
On Wednesday, occupancy at the Courtyard stood at 404 people with 21 available beds; Kraemer Place, nearing completion of a build-out that brought capacity to 200 dorm beds for individuals, had 31 openings, Nentwig said. In the scramble to house the riverbed homeless with pets, two temporary tents also were set up in the Bridges outdoor area with 12 partitioned spaces offering a cot and an animal crate.
Homeless advocate Mohammed Aly, an attorney and founder of Orange County Poverty Alleviation Coalition, alleged in an Orange County Superior Court petition filed Tuesday that the Orange County Fire Authority has failed to enforce “mandatory safety standards” at the Bridges and Courtyard shelters regarding occupancy load and exits. Aly claims both shelters house too many people for their size.
Judge Carter expressed alarm Friday over the recent events at the Baymont Inn & Suites motel in Anaheim, overcrowding at the Courtyard and Kraemer Place shelters, and the July 16 end to a 90-day extension on using National Guard armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton for homeless people to sleep at night.
Friday’s hearing was triggered by actions the county began undertaking a week ago to relocate 30 homeless people from the Baymont motel on Beach Boulevard. Those men and women were among more than 700 individuals who had been living in tent encampments along the bike trail near Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
“The Court is concerned about the continuing download of…
Authored by Sophie Ryan