Sign of Permanence: Santa Ana River Tent City Has Neighborhoods With Their Own Names

Rampart 4 needles AB

Another indication of the growing permanence of the sprawling Santa Ana River tent city: it is grown to such proportions that it has distinct neighborhoods with their own names. The Orange Police Department recently conducted a survey of the riverbank tent city and counted about 600 “camps,” which could be an individual tent or – as is often the case – multi-tent compounds within the tent city.

According to an August 4 Facebook post by Mohammed Aly, the progressive homeless activist who has been calling for the County of Orange to provide tent city inhabitants with showers and restrooms, there are four distinct subdivisons of the Santa Ana River squatters village:

  1. The Big A (next to Angel Stadium)
  2. The Corral (the county-owned greenbelt north of Katella Avenue)
  3. Rampart (the encampment below the Motel 8 and next to the Renaissance apartments)
  4. Fountain Valley (off Edinger).

Aly notes the Rampart encampment “had built a makeshift shower using water from a backflow device, but the County dismantled the shower without providing an alternative.” For some reason, when the County stops the illegal use of public property, its the County’s responsibility to compensate.

He also notes that “Rampart has a bottle filling station, the Big A has CityNet’s mobile home handing out water, and the Corral has a spigot. None of the major encampments other than Fountain Valley presently need donations of bottled water.”

Following are photos of three of the encampments, which I took this morning.

The Corral AB
This stretch of greenbelt – part of the Santa Ana River Trail and governed by OC Parks under a memorandum of understanding with the OC Flood Control District – was remarkably empty of tents until recent weeks. The Corral grew even larger after OC Public Works evicted the homeless camped across the river on a dirt maintenance road running along the Honda Center; most of them simply moved across the river to the Corral, many with the help of a U-Haul hired by the Rock Church in Anaheim.
The Corral extends from Katella Avenue north to Ball Road/Taft Avenue.
The Big A 7 caption AB
The Big A is the downtown of the Santa Ana River tent city. A few weeks ago, a County of Orange motorhome began parking on the trail by Orangewood Avenue, as part of the CityNet-led initiative to relocate homeless out of the encampment – focused on the river trail between Chapman and Ball Road.
The Big A 2 AB
The Big A 9 AB

The deputies said they were there to provide security at the request of CityNet, which that day was giving Hepatitis A shots at the motorhome. When I asked if such security protocols were standard procedure when giving free shots, I was told it was at the discretion of the folks giving the shots.

They also confirmed the OCSD does not conduct foot patrols on the river trail, saying only the Orange Police Department regularly conducts enforcement patrols along the river trail encampments. Several years ago, the Orange police signed an MOU with the County allowing them to conduct enforcement in the Santa Ana River. The Anaheim Police Department still has no such MOU.


Rampart 7 caption AB

It was trash pick up this morning at the Rampart encampment. Twice a week, a county-contracted crew comes by to pick up trash deposited by camp inhabitants in the trash collection site enclosure. The two workers are garbed in white coveralls and wear thick rubber gloves:

Rampart 7 AB

rampart 9 AB

Drug use is widespread in the homeless camps: deposited in a white painters bucket were dozens of used hypodermic needles:

Rampart 3 AB

Hence the reason the clean-up workers wear thick rubber gloves.  And remember – the trash is collected twice a week. That’s a lot of needles piling up between collections. I’ve seen children living in the Rampart encampment. In fact, there is a children’s playground nearby.

It is clear the Santa Ana River tent city is getting bigger, not smaller. None of this existed on the river trail a year ago. It’s metastasizing to the point where it is big enough to have distinct neighborhoods with their own names, reinforces what a massive collapse of governmental authority this illegal shanty town represents. The conditions reinforce that our imperative should be to dismantle them as soon as possible, rather than continuing to enable them.


  1. Proud west Anaheim resident

    I know for a fact that those who want help, are easily placed. These are the ones who absolutely dont. Ok, shold they be excused from the law? NO!
    I’m sorry you are addicted, get help.
    I understand you need to steal to buy drugs. Get help.
    Do I believe in enabling? No, I dont
    But this is not my fault. This is a true collapse of governmental authority.
    Take the help, or go to jail. You are not allowed on this property.


    • I feel that legalizing marijuana has not helped in this matter. It’s s stepping stone for people to move on to stronger drugs. Not all but some have drug induced mental problems. Kids are getting a mixed message that will harm our next generation. Say no to drugs except marijuana.

  2. Hi, I really think the city, county, state should start looking into other places for answers! Let’s take Utah, they got tiny houses for the homeless! Ever try a 24 shelters? Come on people wake up! I know it can be hard to get the one’s that love being homeless! But those are the ones needs help mentally! And those poor children we all know that place is not good in any way for them! Please think about this.

    • Thank you for your post Cathy. I too think homeless should have shelter.

      • No one. No one should have to live on the street. We can’t judge others by our own standard. Not everyone has what it takes. I have manyfriends who are able to intervene for family In difficult times. However not everyone can do that.WE will never get rid of the homelessness until we address their need.

    • In life, I think its fair to say that people do whatever they want..Decisions are made, and then those decisions are executed.

      These people with drug problems who “like” doing these drugs ARE NOT going to stop unless there’s a great reason for them to stop. I know the mindsets of these people…Life is all about whatever they can get out of it..Period.

      No work, no responsibility, total freedom to do whatever they want… If / when these people receive help / donations which further their agendas, they will definitely accept that ” help “.

      They’re comfortable to the point where they EXPECT everyone to accept this lifestyle of theirs….Doing whatever they ” want “.

      I guarantee everyone reading this it will ONLY get worse. Its GROWTH is the proof that this will end up so big, so bad that it will NO LONGER BE ABLE TO BE MAINTAINED.

      It’s time for action, people. Jail them.

      • Homeless drug-addicted individuals, especially the younger ones (of which there are an accelerating/increasing #), can only “do what they want” if they have money. And how do they acquire drug $$? The lie, they cheat, they steal. It’s easy for someone who has never experienced drug addiction to pass judgment. Of course these ppl have made “poor choices”, but the question is, why? If they were made painfully aware of the consequences early on, they likely would NOT have even tried drugs. Every drug addict I have known, including the one typing this comment, KNEW that there were consequences, but BELIEVED that he was strong enough to either 1) overcome them, or 2) evade them completely by sheer force of will. “Oh, that’ll NEVER happen to me….I’m strong enough, and intelligent enough, to maintain myself, to avoid the pitfalls that OTHER people suffer….I’m the exception to that rule.
        Homelessness is for the idiots and mad ones.” These are the sentences that early-stage addicts repeat to themselves over and over again, when life still holds a semblance and measure of stability, no amount of lecturing will dissuade this, as the addiction gradually takes over various aspects of life unnoticed. Children need reminders that they aren’t “the greatest”, most “precious” things in the world, who can do no wrong……It’s only when he wakes up one cold morning in a sewer, or has to find a chain-link fence for a toilet (believe me, I was there several years ago) that the addict wonders, “How the hell did I get here, how did this happen? What have I done to deserve this? I’m worthless, everybody HATES me, I just want to die”. When a person reaches that point compassion, psychoanalysis and moral support (I hate to use the old cliche “love”) is needed. Get rid of these complexes and neuroses that led the addict to depend upon a drug of some sort or other……..These addicts need to be REWARDED for those times where they maintain recovery, even for only days at a time…..not told things like, “I don’t care whether or not you’re clean now, you shouldn’t have taken drugs in the first place. LOOK what you’ve done. All of this is YOUR fault. Your free will has put you here. You deserve everything you’ve gotten. You’re not dealing with reality”……if you talk to addicts, most of them admit to feeling even worse with familial responses like this, and inevitably eventually relapse anyway because of guilt, shame, self-reproach, and feelings of worthlessness, a lack of coping strategies for these affects. Of course someone is going to feel worthless if he’s told this day in/day out by parents and friends who treat him like an enemy of God……By god you’re going to ACT like an enemy of God…..even without the drug variable. Emphasize the STRENGTHS and ACCOMPLISHMENTS, his POTENTIAL, his GOALS. If an addict KNEW that addiction would result in misery and a diminished “quality of life”, on ALL levels, why would he take a drug? When the prodigal child returns home and is treated like a stranger, by god he’s going to ACT like a stranger. Can we say that the addict has a Thanatos-complex? A so-called “death wish”, “death drive”, or “death instict”? Perhaps we should give them MORE heroin and methamphetamine….in order to facilitate an early grave, to bring about their deaths all the more rapidly?……You might (or might not) have noticed that an enhancement of legal repercussions, fathers/mothers disowning & “washing their hands” of their children, public disdain…..hasn’t eliminated this “crisis”… fact, most of the homeless would be very happy to be “jailed”…’s called “2 hots and a cot” (2 warm meals and bedding)…….homeless men have thrown bricks thru store windows just to be arrested and sent to a warm bed and shelter……JAIL……deterrent methods/public resentment/contempt/disdain for addicts has only co-existed alongside a dramatic rise in the numbers of them. Who is going to employ a man who frequently talks to himself anyway, when NOT on dope?

  3. Anaheim needs to be a leader on this issue, our city seems to enjoy being in a political power struggle rather than having a talked out and proceed plan. The city of Orange has stuck their heads deep in the sand. Attempts to rid us of this problem haven’t worked it’s called drug addiction. Giving them needles exasperates our problem.

  4. I would like to be on the riverbed naming committee! How about Jose Moreno coldesac, because his socialist policies are at a dead end! Tom Tait Dump, because he allows trash everywhere!

  5. Hey Matt.

    Don’t you think that a better solution would be to “OVER ANALYZE” the issue by having you and other bloggers PRETEND to be homeless? drain resources and then bloviate about how bad the problem is.

    SERIOUS WARNING: We are not alone in Central OC. Other municipalities, counties experience “homelessness challenges”and even the state. Soon theywill begin relocating “homeless” to the Riverbed site.

    We have seen this over and over again, so called patient dumping, look for Chapman and the 57 to be a PRIME dumping ground for people as far as Fresno County. There is currently discussions among Californias 58 counties regarding “shared transportation” (counties are REQUIRED to provide transport to and from county facilities and prisons.

    Look forward to hundteds of “dumpee’s” thanks to a total LACK OF LEADERSHIP BY TAIT AND THE NEW DEMOCRAT MORENO”.

  6. Send this article and shine more light on the river bed issue. Bad publicity will force action.

  7. Please send this to KFI

  8. After we give them showers they will want bathtubs. Give them an inch and they will take a mile.

  9. This article is so much better than the one that (I think) OC Register published several weeks ago. It painted these people as just people down on their luck, and showing how you can become homeless with no warning, or something. Some of the people lost their jobs due to confrontations with their boss’, one guy made some kind of solar panel so cell phones can be charged, one woman was taking a break and writing a book, one woman works two jobs but can’t find an apartment under $1,500/mo., one guy makes custom bikes. NONE of these people seemed to be down on their luck. Fired over workplace confrontation is not “down on your luck”. Can’t find an apartment for less than $1,500? Bull – but rent a room from someone then. Taking a break to write a book? Yeah, ok. If you can configure a solar panel, you can get a job somewhere. A guy makes custom bikes? AWESOME! But wait, where does he get the parts? Oh, probably from all of the bikes that have been stolen out of my Mom’s senior community in Anaheim, her bike was stolen. A neighbor’s bike was stolen, recovered then stolen AGAIN. It was locked up both times and is her only means of transportation. Why are we enabling these people? If they stop getting handouts, won’t that force them to try to become upstanding citizens? There was a guy on an offramp on my way to work this morning in Irvine with the standard issue cardboard sign. His clothes were 100% clean, no stains on his white shirt, or his red sweats for his nice red converse. His face was clean shaven, except for a goatee and ‘stache.

  10. You are so right shel.

    Ita over for Anaheim. Our leadership is a JOKE.

  11. It is outrageous these people are being accomadated. These is a lifestyle they choose to lead. It starts with drug abuse, leads to homelessness. They gather together in these camps, use drugs and party. Our tax dollars allow them to get on methadone programs, continue to use while on the free methadone, qualify for free medical, free phones, and free living quarters if the want. I don’t believe for 1 second that any of these people are tying to change. With all the freebies our government gives them, why should they change? There has to be consequences for their actions. Stop rewarding bad behavior.

  12. Enough with the Touchy Feely Bull Sh##. Either get into a shelter, Rehab, get mental health assistance or move it along….this is not a campground.

  13. Life!! There are no answers and I want my river trail back. Clean it up. Ship them out and if they do not .help, arrest them for trespassing, loitering, move them to Mohammed Aly’s house or yard, jsut do something. The groups that are assisting are wonderful, however do the assisting from your church or home, invite the folks to your house and provide showers etc. The time for enabling has come and gone~ You want to do something nice, It’s take a homeless person home day

  14. I’m new to this blog, and found it when I started doing my own research online because of how frustrated I’ve become with “homeless” I see in my neighborhood.

    I have to say that as a Anaheim homeowner since 1999, I agree with many of you. It’s time to walk right down the river bed and sort people into two groups…those that want help and accept the help, and those who don’t.

    For the first group, we do everything we can to connect them with the help/services/shelters/job training that already exist. For the 2nd group….we do nothing, since they won’t accept help, and we go back to enforcing the anti-camping ordinance, which I suspect would make some group two members fall in line and decide to be group one members instead.

  15. Larry, I just saw your reply…I’d like to second that motion, thank you 😉

  16. I HATE the fact that these people are using our city as their personal domicile. GET THEM OUT!!!! I’m surprised that the locals haven’t taken action into their own hands seeing how the local government isn’t doing anything to stop the growth of this illegal migration. It’s not as though these invaders are contributing to any positive. They are taking advantage of what the rest of us work SO DAMN HARD to maintain. Unless the county is going to credit us (the homeowners and taxpayers) with payments or tax breaks…why should we be forced to live by people who don’t value life or property???

    And for crying out loud…DON’T GIVE THEM MORE INCENTIVES!!!! Toilets and showers??? Those things cost the rest of us money!!!!! The more we cater to them…the longer they will stay right where they are.


    • I agree with those that say enough is enough. It is Not our job to coddle these people. So many of them refuse assistance and think that it is the job of government and us hard working, tax paying citizens, to support them.
      It is Not my responsibility to help support people that trash our riverbeds and steal, to stay stoned.
      I’m a single mother and have worked Hard and Earned my possessions. Who are you, to think you have the right to take from others, what doesn’t belong to you.
      I’d bet money… that if someone stole from you, you would feel as I do.
      I’ve earned my attitude and says: Get help. Many of you are able to work and simply choose not to. I know this because one of you is my ex roommate, who decided that rather than pay his back child support, he would quit his job and screw the government. Can’t get blood from a turnip he always said.
      Now that’s something to be proud of.
      If you’re able… Stand up. Be a man and handle your business. Get a grip and remember what self respect feels like.

  17. No!!!There are beds available and they don’t wanna go. This doesn’t push them out of homeless it keeps them homeless.
    This is a horrible idea. If Moreno likes it, he should put one in his backyard and see how that goes.

  18. I think some of you need to spend a little time in these encampments. There are a lot of reasons these folks find themselves there. Some are their own fault and due to a string of bad decisions, but some are there for reasons beyond their control. Whatever the reason, no one should HAVE to live this way. While they are there it is not unreasonable to provide some basic accommodations. How difficult is it to provide some portable toilets and showers? These people are going to find basic amenities somehow and somewhere, doesn’t it make sense to provide them in a way that the area residents are comfortable with?

    The reality is that these camps exist, accept it and make the best of it.

    • Thank you for your post.

    • Area residents don’t want the encampments to begin with. Why would they agree to porta potties? The goal should be to move them out. Help is available and they are free to take it and better their situation.

    • No one should have to accept this: The reality is that these camps exist, accept it and make the best of it. They have names streets in the riverbed. They have squatted on public property and now we are going to further entrench them in the area.

      Those living in the area have rights as well. Those wanting to use the river trail have rights as well. Get all those living in the river bed ALL THE HELP THEY NEED TO GET OFF THE STREETS. This should include but not be limited to shelter, medical and a path forward. Do this off of the river bed. Yes there are places. Then there should be some consequences to not accepting help. We have laws. If we don’t enforces laws why should anyone respect the laws and those who enforce them.

    • many of these people have jobs, they cant find a place to live, deport the wetbacks and help these people by getting them into low-income housing !

  19. Can we sue them and the people that are enabling them for violating our rights as tax paying citizens and residents of the areas that are affected by these people. Can we sue the county for using our property taxes for enabling them? At my job I have to work with homeless people. You have the ones that are trying to get out of that situation. And the ones that want to live without rules. The entitlement they now have because they are homeless is crazy!! They say I am homeless like it’s a badge of honor. So give them free stuff. They get fed delivered food 3 times a day. They are now getting house calls by the health agency too? That is ridicules. If a church wants to help them then rent buses and take them to your church and help them there instead of helping them move their belongings from one side of the river bed to the other. Today there were two homeless people smoking cigarettes 20 feet from my front door just hanging out like nothing. I am afraid to go to work in the morning because they are already up and wandering around. They even take naps in the middle of sidewalks during the day. It is awful. Oh don’t get me started on the program the county is trying to start in Anaheim and Santa Ana. Where they can use their EBT (food stamps) cards at restaurants. Most have Medical which is free healthcare. If I was a restaurant I wouldn’t want to allow it. All the help is available to them to get out of that situation. But why when you can live for free, have people clean for you twice a week, do drugs out in the open, get hot meals delivered, free food, free healthcare, free money (SSI or General Relief) there is plenty of help for these people. They just need to use it to get out of their homelessness instead of enabling their homeless lifestyle. If I decide to go camp in a public park willnthe cops let me stay or will they ticket me because I am not homeless. Can Insue them for harassment because I am being diceimated against because I have a home? Can I drink in the parks now too or no because I am not homeless? No I won’t do that I have dignity and pride. Oh and before anyone says how sorry I should feel. I am a single mom who has worked hard to stay in a home. I sacrificed a lot to stay in a home. I know what it is like to miss a meal so that I can pay my rent. Taken the bus to work so I can pay my rent. Wanted to drink my problems away but couldn’t afford the alcohol because of rent. I have to sacrifice to pay copaymens (not to mention premiums)for my mental health. So yeah. The struggle is real. But our choices determine if we win that struggle or lose to it. Maybe that is why it pisses me off so much. I am a few bad choices away from being homeless. But he’ll no.

  20. I bought my home 4 years ago, only 3/4 miles from Chapman and the 57. The homeless population has quadrupled since then. It’s completely out of control. They’re in my neighborhood day and night stealing everything that’s not tied down, taking baths in our community hot tub, making it unusable for us non deadbeats. People like Joan Allen may come from a good place but your causing more harm than good while enabling their addiction. What a great place to live for drug users, right? You don’t have to work, you can just panhandle to get drugs, people feed you daily and provide shelter (aka tents). RINCE AND REPEAT. No consequences, why, cause theirs no police presence. Shame On You City of Orange! Stop enabling these people. Remember they are someone’s children, someone’s brother, father, daughter, or mother that their family is trying to tough love and your prolonging them from being with their family and GETTING CLEAN.
    Q: Does everyone pro homeless live next to them, likes to ride their bikes with their children on the river beds, away from cars, ever used drugs, understand addiction, drug use addiction, ever had a family member out of control using drugs? I don’t think so.
    I say residents of Orange, let’s rally together and sue for our rights to end this.

  21. HLarry Herschler

    Me Peterson, we are tired of losing our parks, river trail etc. I made choices with my life as most of us do. I suggest you open your doors and provide showers etc. Drugs, prison etc are a choice. You make the decision, you suffer the consequences. Clean our riverbed. As I mentioned, in a previous postyou want to assist, do it at your house, church etc. it is time to stop enabling. No more committees, no more studies, take action now, take action now. Ms Lopez, Dana you are absolutely correct

  22. Are you people out of your mind! These people do not want responsibility or a job. They want drugs and people to take care of the and live like slobs. Feeling sorry for them and giving them food is only feeding their homelessness. Get over it, people! I lived in my home with them across the street…50 feet from my front door while they pissed, drank and begged people for food.

    Take it away and it will force them to change their behavior. NO TOILETS AND NO SHOWERS for God’s sake. Don’t be stupid. If this is the way you feel, then put them up in your home and you’ll wake up real quick.

    • The Lord will provide free showers in a couple months!

    • I live in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada on Vancouver Island. We have here what they call Discontent City. It is in fact nothing more then a haven for drug addicts, thieves and thugs. Most of the people want it gone because it is set up by a Mall. Selling drugs, stealing from the mall and being a bully to people is not the answer for getting housing.

  23. Linda – you are right. It is not happening in the do gooders neighborhoods so that can have all the “feelings” they want. But if they were living in close proximity to their homes I am sure they would see things differently.

    Did you see the prior post? “We must accept it?” I do not think so. We have laws. Kindness is help someone who is down or in trouble. Those needing trouble accept the help or be subject to the laws that govern us.
    Kindness is not giving them items to make them more rooted to their homelessness, drugs, cigarettes, etc. Kindess would be giving them tough options to get themselves right.

    We must NOT accept it.

  24. CHILDREN ARE ALLOWED TO LIVE HERE? Where is DCFS? How could a child be allowed to lived like that? Really Anaheim City Council and police NO child should have to live exposed to this

    We must not call this help. We must not accept it.

  25. Linda, Anaheim and Mhha, I think we are finally getting the point across. No more enabling. Get our neighborhoods back, get our river trail back. There is a proverb that states, no one is bigger than when they stoop to help. Well when the help is rejected, it is time to change the action. Help is being offered and is being rejected. Now let’s start enforcing rules. Have all of the churches, folks that bring stuff and then, have them take a homeless person with them. Clean up our areas now! Bring them to their neighborhood. Just stop enabling and making the problem bigger. And if there are kids living there, it really is time for DFS to get to work.

  26. if the Cities and Counties would STOP giving all the low income housing to the wetbacks, these people would have someplace to live !

  27. No matter where you stand with the immigration issue, don’t use racial slurs to try to make your point it only weakens it. I understand free speech but that should not be allowed here. Edit!

  28. Its like this, becoming homeless could happen to anyone and if for whatever reason you find yourself homeless in the state of California you are in trouble. There is no help. There is not enough affordable housing for those that try to make ends meet on a minimum wage job. You cannot afford rent. Not all of us have the capacity to earn a college degree some just have to accept the fact that rich get richer on the backs of the poor. Raise the minimum wage, enforce the employment laws, jail those that hire illegal immagrents . pass laws that keep rent from skyrocketing out of control and above all, love that neighbor WWJD

  29. Ok you got us off the streets for three months some of us still haven’t found a apartment to call home do now what will we do when u people just throw us back out to the dogs an the people whom don’t give a crap about us what can we do to get a place to live tell me who is going to help us homeless people

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