SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – An unusual hearing took place Tuesday in federal court over a preliminary injunction that would block Orange County officials from enforcing anti-camping and trespass laws against the homeless in the Santa Ana riverbed.
On Feb. 7, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter granted a temporary restraining order against evicting the homeless from the riverbed in response to a lawsuit filed last month by the Orange County Catholic Worker group and seven homeless people.
The lawsuit claims a broad range of violations of constitutional protections by the governments of O.C. and the cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Orange for the two-mile camp, which lies along a bike trail paralleling the Santa Ana River. Orange County Catholic Worker argues that evicting the transients will disperse them to the surrounding cities, where they will be cited for trespassing, loitering and anti-camping laws.
The suit came a week after O.C. Sheriff’s deputies went tent to tent telling people the encampment was being closed down.
However, on Tuesday, Carter made it clear to the plaintiffs and defendants in the litigation that he was impatient for a solution to the homeless problem along the riverbed, which has presented a variety of problems ranging from environmental hazards to rising crime in the area and an inability of bikers and hikers to use the public trails.
Carter repeatedly interjected and stopped various speakers when they sounded like they would launch into a planned speech and peppered them with questions. He praised county officials for taking steps to address the homeless problem along the riverbed, but he also admonished them for “chipmunking” $700 million in federal funding for affordable housing and homeless services over the years.
Carter said he wanted to avoid just handing down a court order that would “stick” and could present problems down the road if circumstances along the riverbed change. He said he preferred a global solution to…