Nov 18 2018
12:16 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

California officials are cleaning up what's left of a 3-mile-long homeless encampment in Orange County after officials evicted more than 700 homeless individuals from the area on Sunday afternoon. Located along the Santa Ana riverbed, the encampment isn't far from Disneyland.

So far, the cleanup of the homeless camp has led to the removal of over a thousand pounds of human waste, 5,000 needles and about 250 tons of trash, Fox News reported Monday. The clear-out began Tuesday, after a lawsuit brought by seven homeless people living at the camp resulted in an agreement that the county would offer monthlong motel vouchers or a shelter bed to the homeless people affected by the move.

So far, no response to my letter of October 28 to Mayor Rogero asking where the homeless displaced from Broadway are sleeping, or what happened to their belongings.

It's notable that massive tent cities have been established in empty parking lots and fields to accommodate victims of the California fires. It will be interesting to see how long those emergency housing solutions will be 'tolerated' by those living in the vicinity of the camps, and what longer-term solutions will be proffered.

j.f.m.'s picture

I no longer speak for city

I no longer speak for city government, but from my years of experience there I can tell you that "what happened to their belongings" is that people took whatever they wanted and left behind what they didn't. There is always abundant notice -- a minimum of 72 hours -- before any camp is cleared. What the public service crews tend to find left behind is garbage and discarded items that nobody wanted to take. In terms of where people are sleeping now, some of them may have gone into the shelters -- which always have available beds. Others went elsewhere. It's not as if an asphalt lot under the interstate was exactly a permanent location for anyone. Most of the people there had arrived at some point during the past six months, and have now moved on to somewhere else.

Tent cities are not solutions to anything. They have no water and no sanitation, and the larger they get the more they tend to attract drug dealers and pimps and any number of other kinds of predators. They generate tremendous amounts of trash and human waste and they are not healthy places either for the people living in them or the community around them. I have talked about these issues with city officials from around the country, everybody struggles with them and nobody has a simple solution. But it is easy to grandstand and wring hands about the injustice of any particular temporary camp being moved, without grappling with the actual complexities of the underlying issues.

michael kaplan's picture

The Salvation Army Store next

The Salvation Army Store next to I-40 that has been empty for nearly a year could have accommodated all those sleeping under the highway. The National Guard could be called up on an emergency basis to do the work which probably could have been completed within a week. Bring in cots, portable toilets and showers. The water, sewer and heating system is there. What we have now are homeless wandering through the inner neighborhoods with shopping carts, searching for roofs to sleep under. If the city needs some creative design work, it should consult the College of Architecture and Design. It's only a block away, at the FAB Lab ...

j.f.m.'s picture

I know there has been

I know there has been discussion about some use of the Salvation Army space, but obviously that has to come from them -- the city can't commandeer their property. (Likewise, the city can't call in the National Guard, and anyway civic construction projects aren't what you call the National Guard for.) But the problem has not been a lack of capacity in the shelters, there is room in the shelters. For the most part, that's not why people have been sleeping outside.

michael kaplan's picture

that has to come from them

that has to come from them

Isn't that why we elect mayors, to solve problems like this? The entire issue should have been resolved during the Haslam administration some 15 years ago, when "Housing First" managed to house, what, 72 homeless in Flenniken and Minvilla? And it took Haslam nearly two terms to deal with that. The problem has reached emergency proportions, and needs more than $100,000 per person units thrown at it ...

And how about an answer from the mayor herself, who must surely know what is being said here, or - if not - could answer written mail from her constituents ...

michael kaplan's picture

Comment from a colleague who

Comment from a colleague who is reading these posts:

"Isn’t ‘grandstand‘ one of the Insults the Grandstander-In-Chief and Staff throw at unwanted questions?"

michael kaplan's picture

72 hours

There is always abundant notice -- a minimum of 72 hours -- before any camp is cleared

can you imagine if you were given 72 hours to evacuate your place of residence?

barker's picture

Just curious

Just curious -- If a group of people set up tents or tarps and began living in your backyard without your permission, would you demand they leave immediately, give them 72 hours to leave or allow them to stay for an extended period of time?

michael kaplan's picture

A cousin who works in

A cousin who works in Manhattan reports that the homeless have set up encampments under building scaffolding. Ironic that much of new construction is condo housing with units ranging from $1 million - $20 million.


michael kaplan's picture

Salvation Army

If Salvation Army won't put the building to some productive use, the city - through KCDC - can draw a line around it, designate it as 'blighted,' and seize it for public use through eminent domain. Bill Lyons knows how to do this ...

And I don't mean 'public use' in the Kelo vs City of New London sense by giving the building to a private developer for profit.

Bill Lyons's picture

The City cannot and does not operate this way

Submitted by michael kaplan on Mon, 2018/11/19 - 12:27pm.

"If Salvation Army won't put the building to some productive use, the city - through KCDC - can draw a line around it, designate it as 'blighted,' and seize it for public use through eminent domain. Bill Lyons knows how to do this .."


The City does not have the authority to "seize" property that is deemed (not sure by whom) not to be in "productive use There is extensive due process in a redevelopment area through which elements of the property must be shown to be blighted after which the owner is given the opportunity to remedy that blight. Then there is further public vetting and, in most cases, legislative approval, especially for any expenditures necessary to both build and operate a city facility. FYI, There is, of course, a different, less complex process is utilized for parks and public infrastructure projects.

We much prefer to work with providers and other stakeholders if possible in arriving at solutions. In any case, owners are paid fair market value in any eminent domain process so some might quarrel a bit with the use of the verb "seize." But to each his or own mode of expression.

michael kaplan's picture

seize: 2. b : to take

seize: 2. b : to take possession of by legal process

Have any discussions with Salvation Army taken place about the use of that building for temporary relief of the homeless problem?

Treehouse's picture

Why don't you call them?

If it's your idea, why don't you follow through?

michael kaplan's picture

Sorry, that's the job of our

Sorry, that's the job of our elected officials and their staffs who, by the way, receive salaries.

Alex_Falk's picture

questions should be asked even if we know what the answer is

i am with kaplan's criticisms & suggestions in spirit, and i understand why he gets the responses posted from the representatives of our political(economic) system. i'll leave the thread before i start posting quotes from oscar wilde about the immorality of charity :)

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