This Tuesday, June 20, the Anaheim City Council will vote on re-affirming the anti-camping ordinance enacted in 2013 to prevent city parks from being turned into homeless encampments. The ordinance added the ability to prosecute, under appropriate circumstances, camping and storing personal property in parks as misdemeanors rather than mere infractions – giving the city stronger tools for reclaiming the parks for the public.
For months now, homeless “advocates” have mounted a relentless campaign to pressure the city council to repeal the 2013 city ordinance prohibiting camping and storing personal property in city parks.
This is an opportunity to ordinary, working Anaheim residents who believe their parks should be protected for the enjoyment of the public to come to city council and speak in support of the anti-camping ordinance.
The ordinance was adopted because La Palma Park and other city parks were being overrun by homeless encampments. Homeowners in adjoining neighborhoods found themselves faced with issues such as transients defecating on their property, and finding used condoms and needles in their yards. To the extent these encampments established footholds and grew, the public was effectively denied the use of their parks.
To the activists demanding repeal of the anti-camping ordinance, protecting neighborhood safety and quality of life is “criminalizing homelessness.” They subscribe to the radical notion espoused by the ACLU that sleeping in parks is a civil right.
Homeless encampments that are increasingly dominated by criminal elements are spreading through Anaheim along the Santa Ana River and in flood control channels. Yet, these activists demand the city not only allow the homeless to live in Anaheim parks, but that public park restrooms remain open all night long – thus permitting this blight to more easily encroach on Anaheim neighborhoods.
Councilman Jose Moreno publicly endorsed repealing the anti-camping ordinance during his 2016 council campaign, and in 2013 Mayor Tom Tait voted for the ordinance only reluctantly. Moreno has agendized discussion of the homeless issue for every other council meeting, publicly speculated to enforcing the anti-camping ordinance only makes things worse and downplayed any connection between the growth of homeless camps and the mass release of inmates from state prisons during the last few years.
Given all these factors, Councilwoman Kris Murray agendized a vote on re-affirming the anti-camping ordinance. A majority of the current councilmembers – Denise Barnes, James Vanderbilt, Jose Moreno and Steve Faessel – were not on the council when the ordinance was adopted. As the homeless encampments grow – and with that calls by homeless advocates to accommodate these encampments with government-sponsored amenities – now is an opportune time for the new council to recommit itself to the maintaining the anti-campaign ordinance.
This is a huge issue in West Anaheim, and this Tuesday will be an opportunity for District 1 Councilwoman Denise Barnes and Councilman James Vanderbilt – a District 2 resident – to let their constituents know where they stand.
District 3 has seen a real upsurge in homeless encampments, to the frustration and dismay of homeowners and businesses there. It will be interesting to see if Councilman Moreno remains committed to his campaign stance supporting repeal of the anti-campaign ordinance, or if his time on the council has moderated his views.
Anaheim’s parks are intended to provide residents with a clean, sanitary and safe space to relax and recreate, where parents can take their children to play and run around without fear. The City of Anaheim’s primary obligation is to those residents who use the parks for their intended purposes. They work, pay their mortgages and rent, pay their taxes and obey the law. They have raised or are raising their children by the park. They shouldn’t have to take their children to their neighborhood park and worry about hypodermic needles on the playground, illicit activities in public restrooms, and other dangers. A day in the park is supposed to be relaxing and enjoyable, not fretful and anxious.
The Tuesday, June 20 city council meeting will give these residents a platform to show they – and not fringe activists – speak for Anaheim’s neighborhoods.