Mohammed Aly and other zealous homeless activists took the law into their own hands on Saturday, May 13 and installed three portable toilets on public property – specifically on a concrete slab against the wall surrounding the OC Fire Authority’s training center, next to a Santa Ana River Trail rest area being used as communal rummage sale by the homeless. They even held a “ribbon-cutting” ceremony.
The County of Orange adopt a measured tone, as reported in the OC Register:
Public Works staff will do their best to contact the people that placed the portable toilets at the site, Braun said.
“If there’s no response within the next day or two, then they will be removed.”
She added: “We will be reasonable. If they are willing to work with us and go through the permit process. This isn’t something that happens regularly – we don’t have restrooms dropped regularly on the flood control channel.”
While the County was being “reasonable,” the City of Anaheim acted. This afternoon, code enforcement officers, accompanied by Anaheim police, arrived to officially serve Aly with notice that he has 24-hours to remove the porta-potties or he will be cited and the portable toilets removed.
The notice cites Anaheim’s anti-camping ordinance, which includes a prohibition on storing personal property in public areas. The notice stated that a site inspection earlier that day was conducted and it was “determined that conditions exist on said premises that constitute a nuisance and/or that endangers the health, safety or welfare or property of the public or the occupants thereof.
Aly and his group must remove the portable toilets within 24 hours or they latrines will be impounded and further enforcement action may follow.
Approximately 30 minutes prior to the arrival of the officers, a cameraman set-up to shoot B-roll footage of Aly and others mopping the latrines and conduct interviews. After the officers departed, this writer overheard one of the homeless activists telling the cameraman that going through official channels would be “a waste of time and money” since they believe any such application would be denied.
“People gotta take a crap,” he said. “Right now, they do it in the river, in your water. Would you rather have them go there or in one of these?”
Left unmentioned was the third alternative of enforcing the law and not allowing people to set up camp on the Santa Ana River.