Anaheim to vote on growing homeless population near riverbed

ANAHEIM, Calif. (KABC) -- An Anaheim City Council meeting got heated Tuesday night over the controversial question of what to do about an estimated 400 people living near a riverbed.

Residents faced off over a proposed resolution to declare a state of emergency related to the growing homeless encampment along the Santa Ana riverbed.

"I don't want to see people with feces in my yard, needles in my yard. We're tired of hearing this talking. We want to see action," a resident told council members at the meeting.

About 420 people call the dirt path home, many of them setting up camp behind Angel Stadium.

Opponents said the proposal criminalizes the homeless.

"I read the emergency order to be a call for increased police presence purely for the purpose of finding things to charge people with," said Brooke Weitzman of the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center.

Earlier in the day, the Orange County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a resolution increasing law enforcement in the riverbed, as the county implements a $ 750,000 program to try to clear out the area.

"By interjecting the law enforcement component as part of our plan, it's my hope -- and I think will be successful -- that the riverbed is going to clear itself in a substantial way on its own," said Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer.

Nearby residents said the situation has reached a crisis point, but advocates said simply arresting the homeless won't solve the problem.

"To associate every homeless person as a drug addict, a horrible person, a rapist - that's not simply true. Not every homeless person is a criminal just because they're on a street," an advocate at the meeting said.

The county is set to begin the increased patrols on Friday.

As for the Anaheim City Council, they were hoping to reach a vote on the proposal by Tuesday night.
Copyright © 2019 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.