Several homeless advocates are trying to organize a mass migration of SART homeless encampment residents upriver to the section of the river trail north of Lincoln Avenue and extending past the Kraemer/Glassell bridge – a stretch directly adjacent to hundreds of homes.
Advocates Matthew Skags and Curtis Gamble have been posting their plans on Facebook. Gamble even posted a video and photos of this section of the trail. Skaggs notes “It’ll provide a temporary place where some 1,200 homeless living in tents will be able to live for a few months, besides living in your neighborhood.”
Skaggs also posted a map of the area “where people can pitch their tents away from the city streets. People will need to help volunteer to MOVE some of these people. IT’S GOING TO BE A BIG JOB”:
In a Facebook conversation with Gamble on January 22, Skaggs wrote “I just left a [sic] 100 copies of this location at CAMP HOPE [a homeless advocate tent in the Corral encampment next to Katella Avenue]. And they’ll be making more copies and passing them out.”
In another comment, Gamble writes “The OC Sheriffs are asking the homeless to move towards the Bridges of Kraemer Shelter in Anaheim.” Skaggs echoes that claim, writing, “Police are recommending those camping out by the River Chanel, that don’t have a place to go, to move their tents and belongings to this location.”
Gamble’s claim is contradicted by the OC Sheriff’s Department, which says it’s enforcement effort will “be intentional” in preventing any homeless encampment migrations to other section of the Santa Ana River Trail.
He posted several videos of this trail section – sandwich between an OC Water District recharge basin and nearly 700 homes in the Riverbend development – and saying “there’s a lot of space down here for the homeless to camp out while waiting for space at the [Bridges at] Kraemer shelter.”
Skaggs re-posted one video with the description “Here’s another look, a CLOSER LOOK, at where the homeless can go to camp out until Kramaer Place SB2 zone is ready for low income housing and/or emergency shelters. “IF YOU SEND THEM THEY WILL COME.” So, send them. Thanks Curtis Gamble!”
Skaggs and Gamble also claim the section of the SART to which they want to relocate the homeless encampment isn’t near residential neighborhoods – a claim that is totally false. There are hundreds and hundreds of homes immediately adjacent to this section of the Santa Ana River of homes. Furthermore, large sections of the block wall separating the SART from the neighborhoods are literally collapsing.
Gamble’s assertion that the homeless can camp in this section of the SART while waiting for open beds in the Kraemer shelter (assuming they’ll take one) is also suspect. When the County first proposed the Kraemer shelter in 2015, there was a huge public outcry from these neighborhoods – based in large part on concerns the homeless would begin camping near the shelter. In response the community concerns, the County pledged it would be appointment only and no homeless would be permitted to loiter within one-mile radius of the shelter. If Skaggs and Gamble achieve any success in migrating the homeless encampment to this section of the SART, it would completely vindicate the worst fears expressed by residents in 2015.
Although tents have occasionally popped up on this section of the river trail in the last year, they are removed within a day or two.
Gamble is a fixture among the group of homeless advocates who attend public hearings and community meetings pertaining to homelessness. Skaggs, according to his Linkedin profile, is a “Community Volunteer” with Alfresco Gardens, the sanctioned outdoor homeless campground that West Anaheim activist Nancy West is trying to establish in Anaheim.
This camp migration scheme is a cruel hoax played by Skaggs, Gambles and any confederates on the homeless themselves. The relevant authorities will not allowed them to camp in that stretch of the SART – and if a detachment did set up camp, the political blowback would be severe. The Bridges at Kraemer shelter doesn’t permit walk-ins and has pledged to the impacted residents and business that the County will not permit the homeless to camp out nearby waiting for a bed to open.
Finally, it is a vivid illustration of the complete indifference to the rights of homeowners and business evidenced by the more radical homeless advocates – a most vocal component who tend to dominate media stories and public hearings.