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OC To Boost Law Enforcement Patrols Along Riverbed Homeless Camps

ANAHEIM ( — Orange County officials Tuesday approved a plan to increase law enforcement along the riverbed and flood-control channels populated by homeless encampments in Santa Ana and Anaheim.

The Board of Supervisors voted in favor of increasing law enforcement devoted to the flood control channels where an estimated 422 transients live between Chapman Avenue and Ball Road.

Part of the plan introduced by Supervisor Todd Spitzer is to eventually push the transients out of the riverbed areas in Santa Ana and Anaheim and help them get back on their feet elsewhere.

"We made it unequivocally clear we're closing the riverbed and not allowing people to habitate there," Spitzer said. "We're not going to allow the riverbed to become Orange County's skid row... So, we're going to clear everybody out of there, but we're going to be humane about it."

For those who think deputies will simply remove the homeless, that won't happen at least for now. An appellate court ruling says the homeless can not be removed until there are enough shelter beds to house them.

The public talked for hours at the Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday and the same is expected Tuesday night at the Anaheim City Council meeting where Kris Murray will ask her colleagues to declare a state of emergency. Murray hopes to mobilize resources to find more shelter beds.

"The crisis in the river bed puts those living in the camps at risk as well as those in the communities," Murray said. "There are criminal elements taking hold in these areas. Threatening the homeless and residents. We have our own winter storm season coming and the flood control channel presents risk for lives who are there.

The board voted June 6 to direct staff to come up with a plan for law enforcement in the area, which is owned by the Orange County Flood Control District, a separate legal entity.

"I'm overwhelmed by the tent city people and the tent city situation," Dean Mo, who lives in Fountain Valley,  said.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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