Anaheim City Council Now Declaring War on Homeless: Update

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lapalmapark_tent.jpg
Josue Rivas
Homeless tent
See the update at the end of this post on the council backing off of voting on the ordinance.

ORIGINAL POST, SEPT. 23, 2:31 P.M.: A week after activist Stephen Baxter held a 'sleep-in' protest in downtown Fullerton over the city's war on the homeless, Anaheim will try to one-up them with a punitive ordinance of its own. The city municipal code already forbids staying in a public park between the hours of 10:30 p.m. and 5 a.m., which has the homeless laying their head elsewhere for the night--but that's not enough for councilwoman Kris Murray and her crew!

On Tuesday, council members will decide on a proposal aimed at banning camping and storage of personal property on public property at any time.

In a staff report submitted by Director of Community Services Terry Lowe, the ordinance is framed as one that will "serve as a tool in the City's effort to promote and support safe, clean and accessible neighborhoods and eliminate blight." Never once are the homeless referenced directly, but it couldn't be clearer who the intended target is.

If Anaheim's city council should approve the crackdown--and it almost assuredly will--no homeless person can use a tent for living purposes at any hour in public areas including parks, alleys, parking lots, or any other publicly owned property. Nor could they store personal belongings such as the tents themselves, sleeping bags, bedrolls, cooking equipment, books, money and appliances in addition to other possessions in such spaces.

Public parks are the most visible places where the city's homeless population set up tents during the day. Since the eviction of a sizable homeless encampment in Fullerton by the shuttered Hunt Library earlier this year, many of those displaced turned up on the east lawn of La Palma Park in Anaheim.

lapalmapark_homeless.jpg
Josue Rivas / OC Weekly
La Palma Park in Anaheim

The belongings of the homeless would be subject to 90-day impounds so long as they are given "proper notice." Anaheim police can immediately confiscate possessions if they are left after hours at the park or deemed to be contraband, a threat to public health and safety or evidence of crime. Retrieval is allowed when the Chief of Police finds proof of ownership to be "satisfactory."

If that's not the case, the city stands poised to make money off of the confiscations, whether through depositing unclaimed money into the general fund or holding auctions.

Enforcement of the ordinance entails fines for infractions. The first violation would cost $100. A second violation within a year is punishable up to $200 with every subsequent infraction in that time span costing $500.

"I would categorize this ordinance as part of the larger 'criminalization of homelessness' that many communities fall back on when they choose to be less creative with their problem solving," says Jennifer Lee-Anderson, Co-Chair of the Anaheim Poverty Task Force and policy planning consultant on homelessness. "The $100 to $500 fines that are noted in the proposed ordinance are part of the reason that many chronically homeless are simply cycled through the criminal justice system repeatedly."

Near La Palma Park, the city is just weeks into a newly opened storage area and outreach center. The homeless can take advantage of Conex boxes set up to leave their personal belongings during the day. The city-owned parking lot by Glover Stadium is close to where people continue to set up tents. In a heavy-handed way, the ordinance could encourage more homeless to participate in the pilot program but is also a cause for concern and clarification. "There's no language that exempts the storage area," adds Lee-Anderson expressing disappointment that she learned about this proposal from the Weekly and not city staff. There is also the issue of other public areas in Anaheim far beyond La Palma Park where homeless persons stay.

For the past six years, Jim Carter has taken students at Servite High School, where he works, to serve meals at La Palma Park every Thursday. "I understand where the city comes from. I understand where the police come from," says Carter, also a member of the Anaheim Poverty Task Force that has drafted a 15 point plan to address homelessness. "I don't think [the ordinance] is a good thing. Unless it comes with a long-range plan to help these people move out of this situation, it's just going to add stress to them. Where are the homeless going to go?"

"What would have been nice is if the city adopted the 15 point plan in full," Carter mentions, emphasizing the key recommendation of establishing a multi-service center. "If the city is not willing to find a location where we can put a shelter, it's never going to change."

UPDATE, SEPT. 25, 9:57 A.M.: Members of the Anaheim city council decided last night to continue discussing homelessness in the city at its next scheduled meeting. They did not take up a vote on a controversial ordinance that would have banned camping and storing personal property in public areas including parks. A number of people took to the podium to criticize the effect such a move would have on the city's homeless population.

"We are not going to put up with criminalizing the mentally ill and the homeless," Ron Thomas, father of Kelly Thomas, said to the council. "Where are they to live? Do you have those answers?"

"What we are asking you right now is to delay the vote on the ordinance," said Annan Aboul-Nasr, Co-Chair of the Anaheim Poverty Task Force. "We have solutions. We look forward to sitting down with you again and looking at positive strategies that can help the homeless...not criminalize them."

Councilwoman Kris Murray took issue with the characterization once the ordinance made its way through yet another marathon meeting of the city council. "I want to clear up some misconceptions that the city is looking to criminalize homelessness," she said. "That is false." She made the statement despite the fact that the proposed ordinance would entail prohibitions and fines directly affecting them.

A rarity inside council chambers came next. Buckling under public outcry, Murray motioned for continuance so that more outreach with organizations working on homelessness could take place before the October 8 city council meeting. All present members voted accordingly.

Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz

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71 comments
mrah
mrah

We have some real Dirt Bags that hang out at State College and La Palma. They leave clothes and trash all over the place and a lot of the of them are Heroin and Meth users. They steal from all the stores and break into cars. One of the female dirt bags gives blow jobs for money in the CVS parking lot. I can't stand those people. I hope the city cracks down hard on them! 

wahinewarrior2000
wahinewarrior2000


Why Ron was your son on the street? You live in Cypress in a town home off bloomfeild why not offer up your home? You didn't even offer Kelly a home why would we assume your an authority on homeless, you use antibacterial lotion near them, its hysterical. You are a fraud, go just away.


moez
moez

Bus them to Irvine, Lake Forest, Laguna Beach.  Much nicer and plenty of new stuff to fuck up.

devonod3
devonod3

Where are the top spots where homeless people hang out in Orange County?

lorenzomora
lorenzomora

Not to crap on the comments below, but we sit here and share our thoughts, but where is the action? Personally I have taken the bus at La Palma and Harbor and I feel for the homeless but being harassed for money and seeing people do drugs openly that's a problem! do I agree with the proposed above? I am 50/50 about. Thank you OC weekly for the article though 

Daniella Hernandez
Daniella Hernandez

Where the fuck are they suppose to go?! Some of them dont have families, some are immigrants not by choice and others lack mental health help!! So take what they only have? Thats America for you. Sincerely a homeless advocate at Mental Health Association for the lower level of quality of life.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

So you steal the money that the police confiscate for the people to pay the fines with in the first place?

"CONFISCATION BY THE POLICE IS THEFT" - WHICH MAKES THE COPS CRIMINALS WHILE ON DUTY BECAUSE THEY ARE THEIVES. "80 PERCENT OF ALL COPS ARE CRIMINALS WHILE ON DUTY AND THEY VIOLATE THE LAWS WHILE ON DUTY".

If that's not the case, the city stands poised to make money off of the confiscations, whether through depositing unclaimed money into the general fund or holding auctions.

Enforcement of the ordinance entails fines for infractions. The first violation would cost $100. A second violation within a year is punishable up to $200 with every subsequent infraction in that time span costing $500.

"I would categorize this ordinance as part of the larger 'criminalization of homelessness' that many communities fall back on when they choose to be less creative with their problem solving," says Jennifer Lee-Anderson, Co-Chair of the Anaheim Poverty Task Force and policy planning consultant on homelessness. "The $100 to $500 fines that are noted in the proposed ordinance are part of the reason that many chronically homeless are simply cycled through the criminal justice system repeatedly."

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

“Despite marked improvements in employment and the overall economy,
the rapid increase in home prices and interest rates are pricing
first-time home buyers out of the local market,” said Richard Green,
director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate.

I think the professor is referring to a slim segment of the population
, perhaps film or tech. The average person in the southland has seen
their wages flatten over the last five years, and jobs, at least
full-time ones with benefits are not being produced.

In short, for most southlanders, there has not been a marked
improvement in employment and the overall economy.

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

"Psychotropic drugs quash (negate) empathetic feelings" - Dr. Peter Breggin

tongue_twister_for_t
tongue_twister_for_t topcommenter

Create some freaking jobs for the people that are homeless, there are no homes or apartments available for them and they have no money to pay the fines with. They are BROKE!

I was evicted malicioulsy (Retaliatory Eviction) and I have no say in the matter because I have been out of work for nearly a year. 

Rory Murray
Rory Murray

But Fullerton STILL beats Anaheim in Homeless Men being BEATEN TO DEATH by "Peace Officers".

Steve SanFilipo
Steve SanFilipo

Rick: Have you ever heard the saying "In a crazy world the sane are the crazy ones"? That may not be the exact quote but you get the gist. Well, it should be no surprise that to the illogical your point of view might appear to be illogical nonsense.

Anthoni Le
Anthoni Le

Soylent green people... soylent green. Totally kidding.

Brittany Clarabell Rangel
Brittany Clarabell Rangel

Passing thru and stopped at a drive thru. Saw some homeless man laying on the grass scratching his balls. GROSS!!! lol

Rick Hale
Rick Hale

Sorry, OC Weekly, but it is reasonable to expect parks and other public places that everyone should feel comfortable using, to forbid others from using them as campgrounds and storage facilities. When you get around to housing the homeless on your property or in your offices, then you will actually be holier than thou. The reality is if 3 homeless guys decided to camp out in the foyer outside your front door on Red Hill and the property management didn't notice, you people would no doubt make sure PM's did notice and took action or you'd call the police and have them removed. The reason being that they would make people uncomfortable. People, rightfully so, would like the freedom to go about their business without being accosted for money. Without having to happen upon a guy shitting in the bushes. Without worrying if the guy rambling to no one in particular is going to attack them. That goes for Jaunita and her kids at the park, John the M.D. at the Angels game, and Sharon the receptionist at OC Weekly. If you think that is illogical then you, son, are irrational. And I actually am sympathetic to the homeless plight as many, many people are just one bad break from being there themselves. My only point is that it's real easy for you to act all high and mighty when in reality you very likely would prefer the homeless be homeless over there (somewhere else) rather then right here, in your lap.

Greg Diamond
Greg Diamond

Angels Stadium isn't used much of the time....

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Rick: Exactly—you don't know shit. Fact is, we've long worked with non-profits committed to helping the homeless, such as the Catholic Worker and Food Not Bombs, in addition to covering homeless issues. Now, kindly take your illogical nonsense to the pages of the Orange County Register, where your ilk is not only tolerated, but welcome.

Rick Hale
Rick Hale

Because when I ask them they either tell me as much or they deflect the question by asking "Your point being?", suggesting as much.

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Rick: And you know this how?

OC Weekly
OC Weekly

Rande: And you know this how?

Nick Riviera
Nick Riviera

Among the homeless are some drug addicts and people with mental illness so why not section off an industrialized area of Anaheim similar to skid row in L.A. and let them stay there, some place out of the way so kids can actually go to the park and play.

jrob0914
jrob0914

Actually, they are clearing out the homeless population at La Palma Park in order to build a dog park. I guess the city could be accused of caring more about dogs than people... 

Ron Crock Jr
Ron Crock Jr

Man I hope you get hit by a bus, but stay alive so you can lose everything to the insurance companies and hospitals, then rot in hell on the streets with the rest of the "greedy homeless." Think it can't happen to you? It can happen to anybody.

Rande Linville
Rande Linville

Homeless just want handouts, not responsibility!!

Rande Linville
Rande Linville

& we're supposed to feel sorry for these degenerates??

Jennifer LoveMarque
Jennifer LoveMarque

i personally know some homeless people that beg for heroine money, its fucked up, they recently started wearing hippie headbands so u think its for food or pot but nope, they want heroine.

Jillian Schragen
Jillian Schragen

Wow and we thought Costa Mesa was bad with their local government swearing all the neighboring cities were pushing homeless into their town because apparently Costa Mesa doesn't have homeless... they wanted to get rid of their whole program

Kelly Anderson
Kelly Anderson

I like the idea of creating a homeless shelter with the availability of mental health care; however, some people with mental illness do not want treatment. Living in a free society means that it's our right to live without treatment for all sorts of illnesses such as drug addiction, bipolar disorder, and obesity-- even when it places a burden on the community.

Chris J Caroselli
Chris J Caroselli

Oh, so that's why the lot next to the salvation army on la palma/lemon has less homeless people..Bum park is next door and still has a lot of them, but they're on the right track.

Samantzin Molina
Samantzin Molina

Obivously, this stupid ordinance that Anaheim wants to pass is just putting a bandaid on a situation that needs to be addressed. Why not open up a free home, where the homeless are assigned a room, can cook, clean and keep a garden in the back with mental health support and job training, as well as a stipend if the individual decides to be more proactive? And we have the space to do it...like...I don't know... a little area called Harbor Lofts? Transform La Palma park into a farm?

Keith Sanders
Keith Sanders

Remember the HUNT LIBRARY ? Truth is the people who shoulda protested , spoke up didn't ....they came out with a statement thru nbc news reporter Vicki Vargas ...saying they agreed with the citys actions against the Homeless

Rick Hale
Rick Hale

I always find it amusing when bleeding hearts are critical of others' lack of empathy while doing nothing themselves to help.

Samantzin Molina
Samantzin Molina

I dunno...I llive/lived near La Palma Park and waiting either on the bust stop next to the 7/11, or on North and West or in front of Del Taco...some crazy shit always happened, and it always included homeless or tweakers. I never felt safe, never. So when La Palma was cleared out for the fair and early summer, is it wrong that I was happy because I could wait for the bus without feeling sketchy or unsafe?

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@OC Weekly The fact that you mentioned these as non-profits you work with rather than say HIS House or a real charity is telling of your agenda. 

-Former HIS House volunteer.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@OC Weekly Oh jesus, a socialist/communist group and a left anarchist group. The Food Not Bombs people give the homeless vegan food which they don't even eat. Catholic Worker are inspired by the commie South American priests who want to turn South America into North Korea. Food not Bombs are anarchists which tells you all you need to know about them.

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@Kelly Anderson Yeah I guess alot of them have severe mental problems and need treatment. Guess we can't force everyone into a mental hospital just because they talk to themselves on the bus and can't hold a job. There isn't much of a solution. Not really our problem if they don't want to take treatment when it's available. Send em down the road and say you tried is the thing to do in that case.

xhagfishx
xhagfishx

@Samantha Molina Do you have a spare room?  Why don't you let one or two of the folks stay with you?

spencerj05
spencerj05

@Rick Hale You didn't read the article, they talk to LOTS of people that are doing things to help.

And if you did read the article, get your money back from your college degree, your reading comprehension is F-

spencerj05
spencerj05

@xhagfishx She's not asking YOU to house them, so how is your comment in any way rational?

vegandawg23
vegandawg23 topcommenter

@spencerj05 @xhagfishx Her comment is idiotic. She is asking us to pay for it. Money doesn't grow on trees. It comes from our taxes. You are an idiot if you think like this. More homeless people will just come here if we give them services. Ship them to mexico would be best. Since that's probably unconstitutional we should just ship them to hawaii. Win win, we get rid of the homeless and the homeless get to live in paradise. We piss off a bunch of native island types as a bonus.

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