IRVINE (CBSLA) — Irvine residents attended a City Council meeting Thursday evening with one question: How did Orange County’s homeless problem become ours?
KCAL9’s Tina Patel attended the meeting. And finding people asking that question was not difficult.
“I don’t understand how Orange County’s homeless problem has now become Irvine’s problem,” said Jennifer Assouad at the podium. “At first, I thought it was a joke.”
Hundreds of homeowners filled the Irvine City Council chambers and overflow areas.
The county has plans to move as many as 400 homeless to the area. Residents want to know: Why them?
The county owns 100 acres near the Great Park. The Board of Supervisors has proposed setting up a tent city on the land. But Irvine’s City Council says not only is that too close to homes and play areas, it’s not safe for the homeless either.
“Fifty acres of this property is under a [unitelligble] area which is contaminated, it has all kinds of chemicals that are cancer causing, we shouldn’t be putting any homeless or anybody on this property until it’s been cleaned up,” said Irvine’s Mayor Pro Tem Christina Shea.
“There’s no running water, there are no pipes to bring running water if we even wanted to. There is no sewer system out there,” says Mayor Don Wagner.
City leaders say they are sympathetic to people who have fallen on hard time. But they say many of the homeless have refused to move to shelters or take advantage of county services.
Homeowners hope the city’s lawsuit against the county will put a stop to this plan.
If the lawsuit fails?
“People need to keep fighting, they need to keep being angry, we need to keep voicing our opinion,” says Ashley Michael.
“This cannot happen in our neighborhood. it’s not because we’re being arrogant, it is not because we don’t have sympathy for these people. We need to put our children first,” says Assouad.