Judge Temporarily Blocks Homeless Anti-Camping Law

SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A California district judge granted a temporary restraining order late Tuesday evening to stop Orange County officials from enforcing its anti-camping laws, which would have been enforced on Wednesday morning at a homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed.

Judge David Carter granted the temporary restraining order requested by the Orange County Catholic Worker, a house of hospitality located in Santa Ana, who filed its civil rights suit against the county and cities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa and Orange last month.

Morgan Denges, coordinator at the Orange County Catholic Worker, said the staff is thrilled about the ruling.

A preliminary injunction hearing on the temporary restraining order is set for next Tuesday.

“We’re looking forward to our day in court,” said Denges.

The homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed and bike trail is approximately two miles, where hundreds of people are located.

In his ruling, Carter wrote he would allow police presence and arrests for any probation or parole violations “to protect the homeless and the residents in the area. The Court will not allow haphazard, hurried enforcement action in an effort to clear the population in contravention of the fundamental issues” raised at a court hearing last week.

He went on to write “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 granted the emergency stay request due to an email from Senior Assistant Orange County Counsel Marianne Van Riper that was sent to an attorney with Elder Law and Disability Rights Center on Tuesday.

Van Riper said Sheriff’s deputies would cite and arrest people along the riverbed on Wednesday morning, which marked 30 days after the county issued a notice for an environmental remediation project along the riverbed.

For the last several months, Sheriff’s deputies have advised people at the encampments to leave the location, but have noticed the number of people leaving the campsite have “stalled out” according to Van Riper’s email.

In the email, Van Riper said the county “hope that citations and/or arrests will not be necessary and that people will voluntarily leave the Project area; however, people who refuse to comply with the direction to leave within the allotted time will be subject to citation.”

A phone call to the Orange County Counsel’s office was not immediately returned by press time.

Orange County Catholic Worker are represented by Santa Monica based attorney Carol Sobel.


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