Anaheim City Council's emergency declaration sets stage for removal of homeless encampment | 9/13/2017 | Staff
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Anaheim has declared a state of emergency over the ballooning homeless community along the Santa Ana River, clearing the way for the removal of hundreds of people living in a landscape dotted with trash and used hypodermic needles and lacking toilet facilities.

The move underscores the growing homeless crisis facing Orange County and on ongoing struggles of communities to deal with the problem. Earlier this summer, Anaheim removed bus benches across the street from Disneyland following complaints about the homeless population sleeping on them around the amusement park.

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A survey last year placed the number of those without shelter in the affluent county at 15,300 people, compared with 12,700 two years earlier. While cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco have long dealt with large homeless communities, officials in Orange County said they are still working on ways to help the growing population and coordinate resources among numerous cities.

The Anaheim City Council's vote just past midnight Wednesday morning came amid growing concerns about the swelling homeless population along the river, not far from Angels Stadium.

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The vote followed a county Board of Supervisors vote Tuesday at which all five members approved an increase in the Orange County sheriff’s patrol in the flood control channels along the riverbed. Residents and business owners said that for years, they’ve tried to get the attention of the city and the county to clean up the area, which is a designated National Historic Trail. With the number of homeless people living along the riverbed growing, more than 13,000 people signed a petition calling for their removal.

“We are trying to bring everyone to the table to work on this crisis. We need to be nimble moving forward,” said Councilwoman Kris Murray, who initiated the emergency resolution named Operation Home S.A.F.E.

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During almost four hours of public comment, speakers both praised...
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