Irvine to take legal action against Orange County over temporary homeless camps

IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) -- The Irvine City Council voted to take legal action against Orange County to stop the possible creation of a homeless encampment near the Orange County Great Park.

Todd Spitzer is the only supervisor who voted no on Monday for the plan to create temporary homeless camps, with one being in Irvine. The temporary camp would be set up on 100 acres of county land, just south of Great Park.

On Tuesday night, Spitzer told the city council to take action against the county.

"This is one of the biggest acts of betrayal that I've ever seen as an elected official," he said. "Now we're going to take the problem and we're going to push it into your cities. That's completely inappropriate. It scares me to death and it's just plain wrong."

The council did not know the supervisors were voting on a plan that would put about 200 people in tents near Great Park. Monday's vote stemmed from a lawsuit on the county's removal of nearly 700 homeless along the Santa Ana River Trail.

Spitzer said a judge decided the Civic Center also needed to be cleared. A homeless camp near Great Park concerned many residents.

Irvine resident and Corona police Officer Jeff Hedtk said some people want to stay on the streets.

"They've been offered mental health services. These are people who choose to live the way they do. This is not a solution," he said.

But homeless advocates disagreed and said expensive housing is part of the problem.

"This is shameful and it's because of this exact attitude espoused by every single community, every single time there's an attempt to provide some kind of shelter," said Mohammed Aly, with the Orange County Poverty Alleviation Coalition.

The council members said they want to help the homeless, but the other 33 cities in the county should also be involved.

"We're not going to just let you recreate the riverbed and the Santa Ana Courthouse flag plaza in Irvine. Not acceptable," Mayor Don Wagner said.

Discussions also got intense at a Laguna Niguel City Council and Huntington Beach City Council meeting Tuesday night over the same issue.
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