SANTA ANA (CBSLA) — For the first time in years, the Santa Ana Civic Center was devoid of transients, city officials said Friday.
“Since I started clerking at the courthouse 31 years ago, I do not recall a day there was no encampment in the civic center,” Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do said of the Plaza of the Flags next to the Central Justice Center courthouse. “This is truly historic.”
The hundreds of homeless people who had set up camp at the plaza have reportedly been relocated out of the area.
In an effort to keep transients from returning, gates were erected and an ordinance prohibiting tents and other camping equipment in the plaza was put in place by the city.
According to county officials, of the 234 transients assessed in the civic center plaza while clearing out the area of the encampments, about 135 declined any services or alternative sheltering.
“It is a milestone day,” Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido said. “We have a long way to go, but we’ve come a long way.”
After county officials got most of the transients camped out on the Santa Ana riverbed into area shelters and other housing, U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who is overseeing a federal lawsuit challenging the enforcement of anti-camping ordinances, turned his attention to clearing out the Plaza of the Flags area.
Pulido said he has been lobbying the governor and other state lawmakers to house some local transients at Fairview Developmental Center in Costa Mesa.
The Costa Mesa City Council, however, voted to “strongly oppose” any proposal to house some of the area’s homeless in the state-operated center for the developmentally disabled, which is ticketed to be shut down in the next few years.
“I asked them all to please help us with the hospital in Costa Mesa, Fairview hospital, because some of the homeless are mentally ill and that’s the reason they’re homeless,” Pulido said. “They can’t work, they are mentally ill.”
The mayor sees it as an ideal place to care for mentally ill transients.
“We need a hospital for the mentally ill,” the mayor went on. “We should take the homeless off the streets and put some of them in the hospital.”
According to Pulido, the Santa Ana has around 1,600 more transients.
On Tuesday, Orange County supervisors will hold a special board meeting to discuss updates on the homeless sheltering.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)ted. Wire services contributed to this report.)