Officials in O.C. Must Prove Anti-Camping Ordinances Do Not Criminalize Homeless, Judge Rules

The cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Orange and the County of Orange must appear in court next week to prove that their anti-camping ordinances are not being used to criminalize the homeless camped along the Santa Ana River trail, according to a federal judge.

A homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River in Anaheim is seen in January 2018. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

A homeless encampment along the Santa Ana River in Anaheim is seen in January 2018. (Credit: Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

U.S. District Judge David O. Carter has set a Feb. 13 hearing in a lawsuit filed on behalf of people threatened with eviction.

“The court is concerned that persons who leave or are evicted from the riverbed may subsequently be cited by defendant cities under those cities’ anti-camping or anti-loitering laws, even though those persons may not be able to find a shelter or other place to sleep,” Carter wrote in his request, released Sunday.

Many of the more than 500 living in the encampment have disabilities or suffer from trauma that makes it difficult for them to stay in small, high-traffic areas such as shelters, according to advocates who sued on their behalf.

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