Judge Allows Riverbed Homeless Camp Eviction To Proceed, Requires County to Provide Motel Vouchers, More Shelter Beds

Big A camp 7 AB feat

The County of Orange has received the OK from a federal district judge to proceed with removing the sprawling homeless encampment on the Santa Ana River Trail. The judicial go-ahead came with the requirement that transitional housing – such as 30-day motel vouchers and Tuff Shed-type tiny houses on municipal property – be provided as an option to the homeless people living in the encampment. Removal of the encampment will begin on February 20 and take place over three to six days.

In an all-day court session, federal Judge Daivd O. Carter presided over the hammering out of the agreement between representatives from the County of Orange, Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, and homeless advocates who filed lawsuits seeking to stop the evictions.

The following notice will be posted around the SART homeless encampment today:



On Tuesday, February 20, 2018, at 9:00 a.m., all persons presently living on the Santa Ana River between Ball Road/Taft Avenue and Memory Lane must move out of and leave the Santa Ana Riverbed.

Temporary housing will be available at several locations.

Anyone who wants to be placed in a motel will be offered a motel room for a minimum of 30 days while the County completes a housing assessment and opens additional facilities that accommodate the needs of people with disabilities, and their pets when possible. Transportation will be provided for people, their pets when possible, and their property that will fit into the trunk of the transporting vehicle. If people have more property than they can take with them, voluntary storage will be provided for 90 days. 

Services for Veterans and Domestic Violence survivors and other homeless will be on site.

Judge David O. Carter will be present to oversee the process.

In motels, people will continue to receive services from County mental health and health care workers who will visit the motel locations and ensure that transportation is available to any medical, social service, or housing appointments. For people who are placed in motels, the County will make provisions for access to food.

During the slow-roll encampment clearing last month, the County was already offering access to shelter beds and supportive services, including free storage of property and kenneling of pets for up to 90 days.

Judge Carter told homeless advocates the SART was not intended or built as a human habitation and he would not prevent the County from clearing it. At the same time, he made a clear to the County that it must make provision for interim sheltering of SART encampment denizens, while recognizing some portion of them ultimately will not accept assistance.

The County pledged to provide beds for 700-800 those living SART encampment, via a combination of adding beds to existing shelters, keeping the temporary shelters open and erecting temporary “tiny house”-type shelter on designated municipal property.


  • 32 beds would be added inside the County’s Bridges at Kraemer Place shelter and another 60 sheltered beds in the shelter parking lot in the near term. The Kraemer Shelter was already on track to reach its full 200-bed inside capacity later this year.
  • 100 beds at the WISEPlace women’s shelter in Santa Ana
  • 100 beds/tents/sheds at an OC Public Works parking lot in Orange, near the SART encampment
  •  120 beds/tents/shed on parking lot next to the OC Registrar of Voters facility in Santa Ana.

Judge Carter was clear about his expectation for the County to move in an expeditious and non-bureaucratic manner to deal with the issue. He also made the important distinction that the resources available to the County can and should be used “to alleviate this problem. Not solve it. Alleviate it.”

The next several days will test competing views of the SART homeless population. Homeless advocates tend to characterize them as victims of larger economic forces who ought to be allowed to remain until their issues and circumstances are solved. These advocates tell encampment residents that enforcement of laws against camping and trespassing on the SART violate their constitutional and human rights.

On the other hand, impacted residents, recreationists and businesses have pointed out the encampment contains a significant number of criminals, drug addicts, the “home free” and others euphemistically labeled “service resistant.” They note that well-meaning  Good Samaritans who provide a steady stream of free food, clothes, tents, bedding, camping equipment, coffee service, etc. are inadvertently enabling the homeless the remain homeless.

Judge Carter conveyed a realistic perspective on the varied nature of the encampment population, noting to advocates that a number of them are fine with living there, will resist leaving and will have to be removed by law enforcement.

Push will come to shove on February 20, and it will become evident what portion of the SART encampment residents accept the offer of temporary shelter and making the first steps toward recovery and independence, and which, in Judge Carter’s words, “want to wander.”


  1. Motels in Anaheim hills giving out vouchers. THATS the answer. Stop flooding our districts and spread it out more!!!!!

    THAT would be fair for Anaheim.

  2. …..”n motels, people will continue to receive services from County mental health and health care workers who will visit the motel locations and ensure that transportation is available to any medical, social service, or housing appointments. For people who are placed in motels, the County will make provisions for access to food.”

  3. Yes ANA this is why they never enforced getting rid of the motels on Beach. Its in black and white, “vouchers, food..anything they want….”
    Why ever leave?
    How convenient for the city to have a place to ship them.

  4. Are we going to teach them resume writing and foot the bill for clothing suitable for employment, if anyone other than a select few could find work paying enough for room and board? Long term forecasting needs to be made even if the solution is to shuffle the “serves-resistant” offf to Jail or down the tracks to Mayberry. Esther or, someone is going to holler NIMBY, and in my oppinin, better somewhere else, than in Anaheim. In the spirit of sharing the wealth, of course.

  5. More enabling. How many of those vouchers are going to be in Carter’s neck of the woods?

    • “Enabling.” As though homelessness were a vice or addiction that needs to be whipped out of them.

      (I know, sometimes it’s combined with addictions, but not to the degree you people think.)

      • Vern, during public comments one or two Anaheim City Council meetings ago, you voiced your desire for the encampment to remain in order to stick it rich people. Sounds like the homeless are – to you – just instruments of class warfare.

      • Not really, exactly, you’re caricaturing what I said.

        I see the existence of numerous homeless as an inevitable result of the inequalities in our system. At the time, I still despaired of getting this county to spend anything like the requisite money to even “alleviate” the situation.”

        I felt, putting those two facts together, that it’s not really a bad thing for those who are doing better or even very well in this system to have to sometimes see those who are not.

        • I wonder Vern, if you are such a caring person, why have FIVE D.U.I’s? Can you care less about people, getting behind the wheel drunk, perhaps killing or permanently hurting people? And if you are still “despaired” at our system, search first at home.
          Stop wasting our $$$ by supporting those who sue our city, and which by the way, it’s costing a ton of $$$$$$ to clean SART, from the damage they’ve done.
          Be reasonable.

      • Yes enabiling Vern. Where do they get the drugs to take? How can they afford it? Why were there so many syringes? I do not think it was from getting the flu shot. Where did all the stolen bikes go? Now it will be a month long party in the motels, affecting those neighborhoods, then what? You will see them pop right back on the trail or the railroad tracks, business as usual. Where is the incentive to get off the streets?

        I say put them in hotels in the areas near the homes of those who led us to this point.

  6. For those interested, the Orange County Board of Supervisors is having a special meeting Thursday, 2/15 at 3 PM to take a vote on the offer Supervisors Andrew Do and Todd Spitzer made to Judge Carter and the attorneys who filed the lawsuits. They need one more Supervisor to agree to the deal. Expect a lot of public comments prior to the vote. As always, if you can’t attend, the Board of Supervisor’s web page will offer a live feed of the meeting.

  7. It occurs to me, Judge Carter just made a bunch of motel owners some serious cake.

  8. Yes SP, the words to pay attention to here are MOTEL VOUCHERS. Get rid of those filthy motels and their enabling, government assisted corruption. Let’s find out Carters address and send them there instead. And a few to Taits, with a sprinkling into Morenos front yard. We have plenty to spread around. How about the advocates backyards. They can put tents up in their backyards for them

    But to just shift them to what was originally tourist motels, that are now homeless shelters is not helping those businesses around them, let alone the community. But they’ve known this for years, that’s why they’ve never insisted on shutting those motels down. Even after multiple code violations and years of police involved activity. The city loves having a place to give out “vouchers” to. Of course they don’t send them to ANY place near Anaheim hills.

  9. It is interesting that both sides are in favor of Judge Carter’s Rulings and both sides claim a victory. That does not happen very much.

    I get it that the anti-homeless people are in favor of this because it clears out the Riverbed and the taxpayers and citizen get their Riverbed back. That is a huge victory and they get it back in weeks not months or years.

    But the homeless advocates are claiming victory too? I am just having a hard time seeing how a 30 day reprieve is a victory for the homeless advocates. I mean the homeless are evicted from the river bed. They have a place to stay but in 30 days they are back out on the streets again with probably something like $199 million dollars or more still remaining in County funds. All I can think of is that it could be that the homeless advocates after seeing how Judge Carter operates have a deep respect for him which includes just the right amount of fear and desire for their own self preservation so they are not going to say anything against his rulings. I mean I get it and that is whatever a Federal Judge says goes. It is so fortunate he has wisdom and discernment to go along with that power.

    So the solution to this disaster the whole time was to evict the homeless and give them a place to stay for 30 days? Who would have thought?

    So if this was the solution all along, the government officials now seem a little on the weak side in how they handled this for the last two years when compared to how Judge Carter handled it and who resolved this in a matter of two weeks or less. But of course you have mostly politicians who are elected versus a Federal Judge who is appointed for life.

    Well in the end I think congratulations are in order and due to both sides! Great job everyone and especially to Judge David Carter, a legend, and thank you to everyone who participated in this effort. Good luck to the homeless. Hopefully we have learned some lessons here for how we can handle this in the future.

    • Why are we advocates happy (but keeping our eyes open?) You’re right if it was just a 30-day reprieve that wouldn’t be much. Judge Carter has assured us that he’s in this for the long haul and is going to make sure the County spends all its “CHIPMUNKED” hundreds of millions of dollars on more permanent solutions for most of these people (since there was never any political will for this until the 3rd branch of government jumped in.) Have you read my report?

      • But that isn’t Judge Carter’s job. The 3rd branch of government is based on the law – not on policy problem solving. That’s what our highly paid 1st and 2nd branches are for.

      • Some Daze are Diamonds

        You should be in jail. Who cares what you think

      • Mr. Nelson: You are right. I did not see that side of it which is why I asked for some help processing it although a little bit sarcastically on my part I admit. I read your article and I see that the county got called out on it for hoarding that money didn’t they? I sort of reference that above when I say they look a little weak compared to Carter’s actions. I thought they earmarked $200 million. I had no idea it was $700 millon. My point too was that in a court of law it always seems like you have to have one or the other. You have a winner or a loser. It seems the system is designed like that if you go all the way to a hearing or a trial. That is why I had trouble understanding how it could be a win-win. I mean some people strategically claim a win at court win it was not really a win but that is not what I saw here. I saw both sides claiming victory. But what I also hear you are saying and which is “noted for the record” as they say is that you have established some precedent along the way. A foundation for future action. Thank you.

        PS: as to my learned brother and friend “In my opinion” who notes the “community lost.” I agree in many respects but I was asking the question who won after the encampment was already established for 2 years up to and including Judge Carter’s involvement. I believe you are saying the winner or loser should be judged from inception before the encampment began until the eviction under Judge Carter.(opps I used that word “eviction” again). If so then of course the community lost because someone allowed this to happen and we ended up with a mess on our hands. I wonder if we will ever find out who it was that looked the other way when the first 10 tents, 25 tents and 50 tents went up and did nothing at a time. That was the time to do something not after 2 miles and hundreds of tents are already up. It had to be the county because as I understand it this was their property.

  10. The community lost, that’s for sure. Evicting (poor choice of words to the above commenter, since you cannot evict someone who’s illegally squatting) the transients to temporarily stay at motels is a joke. They will begin with vouchers, then remain there. From dropping them off when they get out of jail to opening motel doors to “evicted sqatters”, relocating them to motels is not the answer. They already have been invited by 100+ organizations in which they have refused. They want no rules, no charge, no consequences. But they allow this because the owners of motels get money. That’s all this is.

    Everyone knows this.

    Carter obviously does not live near the motels, or she would never insist on vouchers.

    The community lost.

  11. MURDER ON THE SANTA ANA TRAIL THIS MORNING, two stabbed? One died, but there is no crime. Enforce all of our laws. What is going to happen when the month long motel stay is over?

  12. Anaheim, Don’t worry, Judge Carter said the two guys were “JUST HAVING FUN”. No sh!t. This is what the good judge said before dumping a thousand miscreants into our neighborhoods.

    On a side note, there are reports of Motel owners paying CASH $$$ up to $200. CASH to “guests” who leave early so they can “rebook” the rooms, in other words double dip. I have the evidence, I am looking for where to drop it, because, heaven knows the VOC will not report this aspect of the disaster known as SART.

  13. Be fair and honest



    Is it me, or doesn’t everyone see it too?


  14. They are homeless because they want no rules or any type of enforcement. They only want to do their drus and be happy. What happen when the maids go in a room and finds needles or maybe get stuck by some of them lying under the beds or under the mattress??? They where happy where they were, in the river bed!!!

  15. Judge Carter lives in LAGUNA BEACH.

    That is all.
    Thanks for the mess here on the west side.

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