County Cleans Up 2,290 Needles, 62 Tons of Debris From Riverbed Encampment In One Week

In the space of just seven days, the County of Orange cleaned up 2,290 hypodermic needles, 62 tons of debris and 400 pounds of human waste from the sprawling homeless encampment on the Santa Ana River Trail.

The Orange County Sheriff’s Department, in collaboration with the police departments of Anaheim and Orange, began the process of clearing the SART homeless encampment on January 22. Law enforcement patrols the encampment each day, focusing on encouraging the residents to leave and on cracking down on the significant criminal element living in the encampment, which runs along the SART from Ball Road/Taft Avenue southward to the I-5 freeway. They work in close collaboration with social service workers and City-Net, a contract non-profit that connects the homeless with services.

The needles, debris and human waste collection totals or for the period January 22-28.

The County also reported an approximately 30 percent decrease in the number of tents in the massive transient camp.

34 arrests were made between January 22 and February 1, and more than 500 arrests have been made in the SART encampment since September 15, 2017. The offenses include: assault, robbery, rape, trespass, possession of a controlled substance, possession of weapons, and other offenses for crimes against persons and crimes against property. These statistics belie attempts by homeless advocates to downplay the significant number of criminals who prey on neighboring neighborhoods and business, as well as other homeless encampment residents.

27 SART encampment denizens were also referred or transported to shelter by the County between January 22 and February 1: 14 to the Courtyard Transitional Center; 2 to Bridges at Kraemer Place, 1 to the Orange County Armory Emergency Shelter Program, 10 to non-County shelters.

The total number SART homeless connected to permanent housing since County outreach began on July 1, 2017: 202 individuals.

It should also be noted that since enforcement phase began in mid-September of 2017 through January 24 of this year, the County teams have contacted and offered services to 1,793 people; according to the County this could contain some duplicative contacts.

Of those 1,793 contacts:

  • 853 responded by expressing a desire for services.
  • Of those 853, only 129 had actually followed through on the services provided to them (as of late January).

In the meantime, homeless advocates – led by the left-wing attorney Brooke Weitzman – are fighting a rear-guard action in court to preserve the SART homeless encampment and prevent the County, as well as the cities of Orange, Anaheim and Costa Mesa from enforcing laws against camping in public parks and loitering.

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