ANAHEIM (CBSLA/AP) — Authorities are taking steps to shut down a 2-mile-long homeless encampment along a riverbed trail in Southern California.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies on Monday began going tent to tent along the Santa Ana River telling people the area will be closed and they need to move.

Undersheriff Joe Barnes says authorities hope to get people to move voluntarily and avoid arrests.

Cleaning crews showed up early Monday morning ahead of law enforcement officials, who say they will only be “encouraging” transients to leave but will not immediately begin forcibly removing people.

 

Forty-two-year-old Heather Smith is one of the hundreds of people who live in tents along the riverbed, part of a surge in homelessness on the West Coast. She says she has nowhere to go.

The property along the river is owned by Orange County and in the cities of Anaheim and Orange.

Neighbors have urged the county to close the encampment and restore the trail for jogging and biking.

(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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