Judge orders O.C. & 3 cities to court over Santa Ana riverbed clear out

A federal judge has ordered Orange County, Anaheim, Costa Mesa, and Orange into court so they can show that anti-camping ordinances are not being used to criminalize homelessness.

Officials in Orange County are in the process of clearing out hundreds of homeless people and their belongings from the Santa Ana Riverbed and bike trail.

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter issued an order on February 4th and set a hearing for February 13th. Carter wrote:

“The court is concerned that persons who leave or are evicted from the riverbed may subsequently be cited by defendant cities under those cities’ anti-camping or anti-loitering laws, even though those persons may not be able to find a shelter or other place to sleep."

The order calls on Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange, and Orange County to explain how many citations or arrests have been made under anti-camping or anti-loitering laws since January 1st.

Judge Carter's order does not affect the ongoing evictions from the riverbed between now and hearing on February 13th.

On January 22nd Sheriff's deputies and county workers started clearing out the homeless encampments, but then on February 1st they were met with a lawsuit filed by attorney Brooke Weitzman. Weitzman's suit on behalf of seven homeless people seeks to stop evictions from the riverbed by issuing an injunction.

Judge Carter said he'll welcome insight from veteran's groups, service providers, organizations that protect and house abused women, and other cities affected by Orange County's homeless problem.

Click here for more at the Orange County Register.

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