ANAHEIM (CBSLA) – A large tent city at a popular park in Anaheim was being cleared out Friday morning, and the homeless living there were being bussed to a shelter about five miles away.
Anaheim social workers, paramedics and law enforcement officers were working to move the homeless out of the longtime encampment at Maxwell Park, located at 2655 W Orange Ave.
By 6 a.m. Friday, only 10 or 15 people were still at Maxwell Park.
"They will not be able to stay here, because we've had too many impacts on our libraries, schools and homes that are just about a 100 yards from here," city of Anaheim spokesman Mike Lyster told CBS2 Friday.
The move is partly in response to an increase in the number of tents that have been popping up in the park, along with complaints from neighbors, officials said. The homeless were being transported to a new 200-bed shelter located on South State College Boulevard adjacent to Angel Stadium.
"They are going tent by tent and working with people on an individual basis to basically transition them out of living on a sidewalk, and to this incredible shelter that we basically opened on Thursday," Lyster said.
The shelter, which just opened Thursday, has cots, showers, restrooms and washers and dryers.
"This isn't a one-day event for us, we conduct outreach every day in our city, so folks who decide not to take our offer today, we will continue to reach out to them offering them help and service," Lyster said.
The homeless issue has grown into a major crisis for Orange County over the past few years as rents continue to skyrocket and the supply of available housing is unable to meet the demand.
Residents in cities including Silverado, Irvine, Huntington Beach, Laguna Niguel and Costa Mesa have turned out in force to oppose plans to build emergency shelters in their communities.
In February, hundreds of homeless people were cleared from a two-mile stretch of the Santa Ana riverbed – from Santa Ana to Anaheim — after months of wrangling between homeless advocates and county and city officials. In April, dozens more homeless people were also cleared from the Santa Ana Civic Center.
During the controversial removal from the riverbed, the Orange County Catholic Worker group and several homeless people filed a federal lawsuit against the county and the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, claiming that removing the homeless from the riverbed violated a broad range of constitutional protections.
In March, O.C. supervisors abandoned a controversial plan to erect large tents in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel to temporarily house the homeless. The supervisors were forced to abandon the plan after fervent demonstrations from residents and city officials, along with threats of lawsuits. A second proposal — to house the homeless in the state-owned and soon-to-be-shuttered Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa — was also met with strong opposition from residents.
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