Homeless Encampment Cleared From Maxwell Park

Christmas came early for the neighborhoods adjacent to Maxwell Park on Friday morning, as city authorities cleared the homeless encampment that had been growing exponentially during the last few months – reclaiming the park for its proper use by the public.

As many as 50 tents clogged the sidewalks on both sides of Broadway, in front of Maxwell Park and the Haskett Branch of the Anaheim Public Library. The homeless campers had tired of moving their tents back and forth from the park to the sidewalk as the city enforced park hours, and simply began living on the sidewalk. Tents came right up to the front yards of house across the street, and all along the frontage of a neighborhood nursery. Both sides of Broadway were redolent of the stench of excrement, urine and marijuana.

These photos taken on Sunday, December 23 show a Maxwell Park free of tents and squatters, although obviously worse for the wear:


Sidewalks that a few days ago were choked with tents, debris and stuff  on either side of Broadway were now clear of obstruction.


Local residents were walking their dogs on stretches of the park that were the domain of the encampment a few days earlier.

This was how these same sidewalks looked on Wednesday night:

Beginning on Thursday, December 20, city authorities and social workers began transporting homeless from Maxwell and other Anaheim parks to the 200-bed State College temporary emergency shelter. They had been outreaching to these folks for two weeks prior to inform them of what was coming down the pike, and that living in Maxwell Park would no longer be an option. At the beginning of last week, approximately 150 homeless had pre-registered for the shelter and by Friday, some 75 beds had been filled.

Federal Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing the settlement agreement that is driving the construction of 325 permanent homeless shelter beds in Anaheim, toured the State College shelter on Thursday. He characterized it as possibly the best homeless facility he has seen, and maybe nationwide.

Anaheim Mayor Harry Sidhu spent the night at the shelter on Thursday night, telling the Voice of OC:

“I have to make sure it’s good,” Sidhu said. “I wanted to make sure that people can sleep there if I can sleep there.”

The State College homeless shelter was built in just two weeks, thanks to the participation and nimbleness of the private sector.

Homeless advocates, while praising establishment of the State College shelter, have also nitpicked about various aspects of its amenities and operation in a classic manifestation of letting the perfect by the enemy of the good.

Brook Weitzman is the progressive attorney whose lawsuit to stop the clearing of the Santa Ana River Trail encampment has prevented enforcement of the anti-campaign ordinance and ultimately led to the settlement agreement. She claims the provision of 200-beds in a world-class shelter environment as a bridge until the longer-term shelters come on line in a few weeks does not allow the city to enforce the ordinance. The stance of Weitzman and her allies is essentially this: thank you for the shelter beds, but anyone who doesn’t want to go should be allowed to remain in the parks.  At the end of the day, the negative impacts of these encampments on the lives of homeowners and other residents is of peripheral interest to these advocates.

The rapid construction of shelter beds is a good thing: it offers a refuge for the homeless who want to escape that life and enter one of self-reliance.  Those who refuse help cannot be allowed to live in parks or any other public property. Anaheim is now moving quickly to provide the necessary beds in order to enforce the anti-camping ordinance and preserve public parks for the proper purpose.

7 comments

  1. So how much trash was hauled away from the park??

  2. How many were at the park before the clearing? How many beds were taken after the clearing? Very nice facility that offers and alternative to the streets. I am wondering how many turned away the offer?

  3. Thank you Mayor Sidhu and new council majority. Thank you Anaheim Blog.

  4. ANAHEIM open your eyes

    This new mayor even slept overnight there, after getting this thing up snd running in 2 weeks. What did our last Mayor do?
    And Jordan Brandman called Denise Barnes “brilliant” at a recent west Anaheim neighborhood development meeting. For what?

    Why Mr Brandmsn? Are you that desperate for attention?
    She hasn’t done anything.

  5. Good job on clearing this mess up. Poor residents & businesses that had to suffer through this problem for some time. Anaheim, this was a lawsuit waiting to happen from the employees of the library who feared going to their job. To the nursery owner who’s business was effected. I am not without sympathy for those that are truly homeless & can’t help but be in that situation. When you are given a chance to be somewhere safe with roof over your head you take it. If you don’t, in my opinion you are out there for a reason & it’s usually for being up to no good.

  6. Hopeful: you are right, but all this began from lawsuits in the past from homeless advocates. They sue and sue and sue for more rights for the criminals. Sad but true.

  7. David Michael Klawe

    The city of Anaheim posted this update on Nextdoor this afternoon

    Anaheim Shelter Plan update: Park encampments cleared
    More than 150 people have moved to an interim emergency homeless shelter from Maxwell, La Palma and Schweitzer parks, a west Anaheim street corner, an underpass at Gene Autry Way and Santa Cruz Street and elsewhere, and the parks and other spaces have been cleared, cleaned and restored.

    The clearing of the encampments was the result of extensive outreach by the city and our nonprofit partners, who have been working for days with those living in the parks and on the streets to offer them services and a bed at Anaheim’s newly opened interim emergency homeless shelter.

    For the past two weeks, our team of social workers from the city’s nonprofit partners, along with Anaheim Police, Anaheim Public Works, Code Enforcement, Community Services, Anaheim Fire & Rescue and others, have been out helping people transition out of homelessness while also addressing unsustainable encampments in our parks and public spaces.

    Since the 200-bed interim emergency homeless shelter opened on Dec. 20 — after an astounding 14-day buildout — we have been able to clear encampments at Maxwell Park, La Palma Park, Schweitzer Park, Gene Autry Way, Katella Avenue and at the corner of La Palma Avenue and Magnolia Street.

    As of Thursday, the shelter is now home to about 160 people who previously were living outdoors amid colder weather and other risks.

    The shelter, at 2040 S. State College Blvd., is a safe, warm and inviting alternative for those living on the streets, in parks and other public spaces in Anaheim.

    Operated by Orange-based nonprofit partner Illumination Foundation, the shelter is a first step out of homelessness with case management, counseling, job assistance and other ongoing services.

    Features include:

    -Family living space with room for up to four families before they move to other accommodations
    -Men’s living space
    -Women’s living space
    -All single beds with individual nightstands
    -Transportation service
    -Personal storage space
    -Dining area, kitchen
    -Pets, outdoor dog run
    -Covered outdoor space
    -Lounge area with TV
    -Wireless internet
    -Inspirational murals

    The interim emergency shelter is the result of a public-private partnership with the business community to benefit the homeless and Anaheim’s neighborhoods.

    Major Anaheim businesses have committed $350,000 in funding for the shelter plus donations of furniture, building materials and services.

    The donations from the business community will help offset the use of city resources for the shelter construction and operation.

    The city of Anaheim has provided up to $1.4 million for buildout of the shelter and its operation by Illumination Foundation.

    The interim emergency shelter is expected to operate for about 90 days, closing once two temporary shelters in the works open in late January and February.

    Anaheim is building a total of 325 temporary shelter beds for those living in homelessness in Anaheim at two temporary shelter sites at 3035 E. La Mesa St. and 1455 S. Salvation Place.

    Some furnishings and other resources from the State College site will transfer over to the La Mesa site.

    Down the road, the city also has plans to partner with The Salvation Army Orange County for a 400-600 bed homeless care center that will be part of the city’s long-term solution to addressing homelessness.

    All of Anaheim’s shelter sites will include extensive operational and security oversight to ensure they are good neighbors.

    Anaheim Police will oversee security planning and conduct regular patrols of the sites, supplemented by onsite security and rules barring loitering, walk-ups and drop-offs.

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