IRVINE (CBSLA) — The battle is intensifying over where to relocate hundreds of homeless people in Orange County.
A federal judge recently ordered the county to come up with a plan and it did. But now residents are rising up.
As CBSLA’s Laurie Perez reports, hundreds of Irvine residents showed up at a protest Sunday to voice their opposition to placing Orange County’s homeless population in the city.
The county is considering putting the homeless across from Great Park as it works to handle a persistent homeless problem.
The Great Park area is one of three sites proposed as a temporary shelter in Orange County. It’s just over 100 acres of county-owned land.
Thousands of homeless were evicted from the shores of the Santa Ana riverbed last month. The county wants to move hundreds more out of an encampment outside the Santa Ana Civic Center.
But what started out this week as an idea to create three temporary shelters in Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel and Irvine, turned into a counter proposal to put all 400 homeless people in a mass tent city on the land across the street from Great Park.
“I have nine grandchildren. I have three grown kids and I would never allow this kind of thing next to my home,” said Irvine Vice Mayor Christina Shea.
A crowd of locals spent Sunday morning not at the park, as they say they often do, but across the street saying this is no place for the county’s swelling homeless population — especially since those who want help have already been placed.
“I hate to say this but the homeless that are planning to come here really represent the worst of them because they’re the ones that aren’t following the rules, that don’t want to give up the drugs, that don’t want to accept services or housing,” said Irvine Commissioner Anthony Kuo. “And to put those across the street from sports fields and a senior community in my mind is just an incompatible use.”
Homeowners say it’s not only a bad plan for them but for the homeless. Some saying the land remains contaminated from use as a Marine Corps Air Station and it won’t give the homeless what they need.
“They are just trying to dump those people in a place in a tent like where they were,” said Chris Yuan.
There has been tremendous pushback, not only in Irvine but in Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel.
The Board of Supervisors is set to meet Tuesday to continue its work figuring out where to relocate hundreds of homeless people.
Irvine rescinds action to place tent city next to Great Park
IRVINE, CA (FOX 11) – UPDATE: “The County Board of Supervisors posted on its website today an agenda item that would rescind its previous action to place a tent city for as many as 400 homeless people on Irvine land that it owns next to the Great Park. Nonstop efforts by the Irvine community, City Council, and staff have had this positive effect.
Fortunately, a majority of the Board of Supervisors appears to recognize that the Irvine location for its tent city is not fit for human habitation and unacceptably close to homes, schools, and parks.
“The City Council awaits a definitive vote by the Board on Tuesday, and remains as willing as always to help coordinate a collaborative solution to the countywide crisis of homelessness in a permanent, humane way. The City of Irvine is eager to be a part of that solution.”
Residents of Irvine held a rally in front of City Hall, in order to drum up opposition against Orange County’s plan to house the homeless in their city.
Melissa Fox from Irvine City Council, says, “We care very much about people and want to give help to that community.”
But the signs make it clear that no one wants the solution to be a homeless encampment in the city of Irvine.
Resident Lee Sun says, “Together we will stop this unconscionable proposal by county supervisors to bring more than 400 homeless people to the great city of Irvine.”
A federal judge forced Orange County to come up with a plan to house the homeless, moved from the Santa Ana riverbed and temporarily given shelter in local motels. One of three sites suggested is Great Park in Irvine.
“It’s not like we’re moving them into a shelter, per se. They’re basically picking up their tents and putting them on land that actually contaminated. There’s no running water, no electricity and no sewer system.
Homeless Advocate Brooke Weitzman says, “We certainly wouldn’t support anything that didn’t include bathrooms and showers. Without those, no one is better off than they were in the river bed.”
Fifteen years ago, Irvine zones the property for homeless use. Orange County Supervisor Shawn Nelson said, Just last year, a homeless shelter was part of an EIR the county circulated for comment. There were no comments about that item. When push comes to shove, people will plan because they have to but no one wants a homeless shelter in their neighborhood.”
Nelson wants naysayers to know that without a plan, the judge will not allow Irvine or any other city in Orange County to enforce their overnight camping or trespassing laws, leaving open the possibility the homeless would have their pick of places to be.
ICE chief blames Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf yet again
OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) — Just when you thought the dust had settled, the acting chief of ICE has, once again, accused the mayor of Oakland of putting the public in danger.
Last month, Acting ICE Director Tom Homan claimed that Libby Schaaf’s public warning of ICE actions allowed hundreds of criminal immigrants to avoid arrest. Now, Homan says several of those individuals have committed new crimes.
“Eighty-one percent of all aliens we arrested in California last year were convicted criminals,” said Homan at a White House roundtable Tuesday.
“Since our operation in San Francisco and Oakland, three of the people we couldn’t locate have since reoffended. One person I just talked about was just arrested for robbery and multiple weapons violations,” said Homan.
— Laura Anthony (@LauraAnthony7) March 21, 2018
ICE claims a second man was arrested for DUI and a third man for spousal abuse.
An agency spokesman in San Francisco tells ABC7 News the three arrests were made outside the Bay Area, in Los Banos, the Sacramento area and Tulare County.
“It’s a continued distraction and a continued perpetuation of a racist lie,” said Schaaf, who maintains she doesn’t regret giving the warning and isn’t convinced any of the re-offenses had anything to do with her going public.
“If they are in fact convicted, not just arrested, but convicted of dangerous crimes, there are procedures in place to address that,” said Schaaf.
The Trump Administration has threatened legal action against Schaaf, something the mayor admits she doesn’t take lightly.
“Of course I am always concerned about my personal freedom,” Schaaf explained. “Of course I”m concerned because it has never been my intent to break the law.”
So far, Schaaf says she has no knowledge of any Justice Department investigation into her actions.