ANAHEIM, Calif. >> Officials in Southern California’s Orange County today put hundreds of homeless camped out along a dusty riverbed near a baseball stadium on notice that they must move starting in two weeks.
Formal notices were posted at the encampment near the stadium of the Los Angeles Angels team, said Carrie Braun, a spokeswoman for the county sheriff’s department.
Deputies will give tent-dwellers reasonable time to move and the county will provide transportation to area shelters and storage for personal belongings, she said. The encampment is a two-mile stretch of tents and tarps surrounded by trash on a dusty patch of land near a bike trail where cyclists zoom by.
“The goal is to get people out of there and restore it to a flood control channel,” Braun said.
The encampment sprang up in recent years on the trail along the Santa Ana River.
The Associated Press has reported over the last few months on a homeless crisis of unprecedented proportions on the West Coast, where tens of thousands of people are sleeping on the streets from Seattle to San Diego. The problem is caused in part by soaring housing costs, rock-bottom vacancy rates and a roaring economy.
Homeless advocates said Orange County’s decision will simply shuffle people elsewhere due to a lack of available housing and drive the homeless to sleep in parks and on sidewalks.
Neighbors of the riverbed have been urging officials to shut down the encampment and restore the trail for biking and hiking.
Braun said the area will be entirely closed for up to three months. Once it reopens, she said deputies will regularly patrol the area to prevent overnight camping.
Orange County last summer hired a nonprofit group to provide case management services to those living in the then-roughly 400 person encampment. Since then, officials have said they eventually planned to close down the encampment.