Homeless Advocates Sue To Stop Clearing of SART Encampment, End Enforcement of Anti-Camping Ordinances

Big A camp 7 AB feat

You knew this was coming.

The Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, a progressive advocacy group, is suing the County of Orange and the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Cost Mesa in an effort to stop the process of clearing the Santa Ana River Trail of homeless encampments. The lawsuit was filed in federal court on behalf of the Orange County Catholic Worker and several homeless people. It seeks to establish the sprawling homeless encampment’s status as a judicially-sanctioned squatters camp until housing is found for each of the estimated 400-1000 people living there. The lawsuit also seeks to prevent the County and the cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa from enforcing ban on camping in public parks, loitering and other anti-vagrancy ordinances.

Click here to read the lawsuit.

Since mid-September of 2017, The OC Sheriff’s Department has been conducting law enforcement operations in the SART encampments since mid-September, in tandem with intensive outreach to get the homeless out by connecting them with services. The cities of Orange and Anaheim have participated in this effort.

Last month, the OCSD announced the process of clearing the SART encampment would begin in January, and in January 22 this slow-roll effort began – again in conjunction with County social services staff and contractors offering services to the homeless.

However, from the unique perspective of the OC Catholic Worker, this process is tantamount to “criminalizing” homelessness and violates the constitutional rights of encampment homeless under the 1st, 4th, 8th and 14th Amendments.

Advocates’ Continued Indifference To Rights of Homeowners and Business Owners
The reading the lawsuit is a journey through an alternate universe. The County and the cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa are painted in Gestapo colors, while broadbrushing the homeless population of the SART encampments as undifferentiated victims of external forces with no individual responsibility for their situations. Encampment life is painted in almost nostalgic terms; for example, describing how residents of the now-closed Fountain Valley encampment “reconstituted their community” on the SART across from the Honda Center.

No mention of the nightmarish experiences of residents of the Renaissance apartments or the Park Royale Mobile Home Park, who have endured, theft, vandalism, harassment, break-ins, trespassing, used needles strewn about, indecent exposure, public sex acts, prostitution – just a partial list of the impacts of having drug addicts, released criminals and “home-free” urban outdoorsmen erect a squatters village next door.

What about their constitutional rights? Are they not entitled to the equal protection of the law? Don’t they deserve representation? Don’t they have grounds to sue?

The disturbing reality is the more radical homeless advocates – the ACLU, the Mohammed Alys and Eve Garrows and Brooke Weitzmans, the Mike Robbins – are laser-focused on the plight of the homeless to the exclusion of all else. The flip-side of this relentless focus is indifference very negative impacts the encampments they seek to protect have on surrounding neighborhoods. They may pay lip service to residents’ concerns, but it’s no exaggeration to say they baseline attitude is that working, home-owning, law-abiding citizens will have to suck it up until homelessness is “solved.”

The magical thinking of homeless advocates was on display during an exchange at yesterday’s lawsuit press conference between Brooke Weitzman of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center and a reporter:

Reporter: With housing being the alternative, and it takes a long time to build housing – so you’re saying it should be indefinite they should stay in the riverbed?

Weitzman: I think that when there has been motivation, housing can be built quickly. You know, in this county we have the space, we have the funding. Potter’s Lane went up very quickly. And so while that only helped I think only 15 or so people, I think that the County could solve this problem by investing in housing.

“Motivation”? Who knew the housing shortage was the result of a lack of “motivation”? As for space and funding: where? And how much will it cost? Does Ms. Weitzman have any idea?  Potter’s Lane is a great concept, but it didn’t go up “very quickly” – it took well over a year to house 15 people. Thanks to the regulatory thicket fostered by progressives like Ms. Weitzman, it is impossible to “very quickly” build housing of any kind.

The takeaway from Ms. Weitzman’s answer is she doesn’t really have any idea how the County can conjure up hundreds of units simply by “investing” in housing. If she had been candid with the reporter, she would have admitted that, yeah – she is saying the SART homeless encampment should  be able to remain there indefinitely. And if she and the plaintiffs and their cheering section among the advocate prevail, the squatters village on the SART will become permanent part of the landscape.


  1. Weitzman,

    Here is the perfect answer:
    Since you do not mind inflicting the consequences of transients upon those who live near SART, please show us how much you care by inviting several homeless into YOUR house. Let those strangers use your bedroom, your shower, your toilet. If you don’t mind them right next to our houses and apartments, with the filth and crime….show the world your true rmpathy, and let them in your house.
    The idea of them not having a place to go is absurd.
    They refuse because of rules.
    They are full of crap and so are you.


  2. Those poor people who owns those homes overlooking the Riverbed. Maybe they should join in the lawsuit and sue the same governmental entities for not protecting their rights. I am betting those homes have dropped in value considerably. Can you imagine showing one of those homes for sale and they open up the curtains and it overlooks a sea of tents and trash. Any buyer is going to say “no thanks”. This is terrible.

    But the homeowners would have to pay for their own lawyers and the homeless get free attorneys. We also have to pay taxes so the government entities can fight these claims. But the homeless get a free ride all the way around. Anybody who thinks man of these people are not drug addicts is kidding themselves. The riverbed and the civic center are the black tar heroin capitals of Orange County in addition to meth.

    I get it some people need help and those are the ones that we should be helping but the people who don’t want help or want a free ride should be held accountable. They are trespassing plain and simple. We owe the ones who are hurting a hand but not like this. The statistics say something like 17% are addicts or have mental health issues. Come on do you think they are going to admit to someone taking stats with a clipboard that they are drug addicts? I am saying well over 50% are drug addicts, staying in tents, not working and have no interest in working, stealing from the citizen’s and from each other. We are not stupid. In fact the advocates should know this. They are with them everyday. They know what is going on our there.

    Ok, we looked the other way when the trucks rode up twice a day and started giving them free food and clothing and tents and we all felt good about ourselves i.e. WWJD but this is out of control. Maybe Jesus would clean this place like he cleaned the temple. The advocates preach that these people don’t want to be out there. Come on who are you kidding? Of course they want to be out there or we would not have 2 miles of tents and growing.

    Judge Carter is a great judge who issued the latest order about the government having to have a place to put the homeless before they can cite them for trespassing. I remember reading the register article about him when he was appointed to the bench. I have a lot of respect for a federal judge of his caliber. I have to have a lot of respect for his opinion just because of who he is. But maybe just maybe if this new case comes before him we can count on him to find a solution. I wonder if his home overlooked the tents and the filth everyday if he would not make a different order. I feel bad for saying it but I would like to hear the answer. Everyday having to keep your curtains closed because it makes you so angry that no one is doing anything or having to keep your curtains closed because it is an eyesore. I am just saying don’t those people have a right too?

    At least Kris Murray in Anaheim tried something. At least she tried. And then the whole council jumps in behind her voting unanimously for her project but before that there was nothing really going on. At least she tried and I give her credit for that and so do a lot of people I suspect even the rest of the council who voted with her. James Vanderbilt tried to do something to with his app about getting help and resources for the homeless. He is doing something beside debating for 2-3 hours whether we should give them portable toilets. I am against them being there altogether but if you are going to let them be there should they not have a place to go to the bathroom?

    Thanks for keeping us updated on these issues and thanks for not limiting the amount you can write. Ha ha. Sorry for the long post. But really thanks. At least you let me post. My posts on the other sites gets filtered and rejected.

  3. They do not want help. They do not want help because they don’t want the rules. I think the police should set up an encampment and insist that they laws are kept, all of them. I mean put a temporary substation there and enforce the laws that we all have to keep. You will see how many leave the trail and how fast. When we do not enforce the laws the obvious result is lawlessness, which we have.

    Send your article to KFI and ask John and Ken if they will broadcast from there. Keep this in the front of the news. Insist all the laws we have are met.

    Where is the line drawn if we do not enforce the laws?

  4. Finally 2/3 articles are sensible. Like the idea of a police substation. Make it 24/7 and I think that Anaheim might be right. However, am tired of “send it to John and Ken” These folks, as I have been saying, do not want assistance. How many times do the advocates have to hear it before they get it? Solutions are limited however drug use and addictions start with individual choices. Clean the trail now and I am more amazed that it took so long before the suit was filed. Have the law offices spend the money on shelters or building permanent shelters. That money would be better spen and more effective than suing. Oh yeah, we wouldn’t get publicity. Offer the folks paid jobs cleaning parks,, streets etc. This issue will last forever. And as one transient mentioned to the Register, we are coming to your town.

  5. Weitzman points at potters lane housing but how many veterans are over there in the riverbed? If the homeless can’t contribute to their own well being they are useless in our community.

  6. Larry Herschler: I only said send it to John and Ken because we need to keep holding the council publicly accountable. That is the most important thing to them – how they look. The public scrutiny is the most action.

    But I truly think we need a substation: 24/7. The SART would clear very quickly.

  7. Anaheim area resident

    If anyone thinks it’s OK for the transients to be excluded from the law at SART, then let me ask you, why stop there? Why not at YOUR park near YOUR home?? Let’s find out the people who argue to let them stay there, and invite them to that persons park? There is no difference. People live near SART the same as by parks.

  8. I understand we have a problem. I have the solution. First of they are criminals. Arrest all of them. Each and everyone. Throw them in jail. Everyday they are in jail take them out to work in the community cities to pick up trash, clean graffiti and clean our parks since they are the ones who liter them with all their shit and human waste. You accomplish several things by doing this. You first solve the homeless.issues because now they are in jail. They get housed and fed and you save the money you would have to.pay a city worker to clean our parks and communities.

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