A Southern California city on Wednesday declared an emergency over a growing number of homeless people living on the streets, and especially along a popular riverbed trail.
The Anaheim City Council approved the measure unanimously after hearing three hours of public comments and discussing the issue for 90 minutes during a meeting that ran into the early morning, the Orange County Register (http://bit.ly/2xlc9bc ) reported.
More than a hundred people attended the meeting including city residents, homeless advocates, business owners and reporters.
"It's important that we realize this situation has gotten to a level that it is creating a crisis in our communities and that we cannot solely rely on the county to solve this problem," said Councilwoman Kris Murray, who introduced the resolution called Operation Home Safe. "We have got to be willing to take it to the next level."
A goal of the measure is to attempt to relocate the homeless and discourage people from settling along the Santa Ana River trail, which is used for biking, jogging and horseback riding.
City police and sheriff's deputies will step up patrols on the trail starting Friday. The Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution to support enhanced patrol efforts by the sheriff's department.
Residents say the area has been overrun by drug users and violent transients. Those camping out there say officials don't understand their plight.
Orange County has 4,792 homeless people living in the county, according to the newspaper. More than 900 homeless people live in Anaheim — a number that has grown over the years — and nearly half have set up makeshift tents along a stretch near Honda Center and Angel Stadium.
Wednesday's city council action doesn't release any kind of special or additional city funds, according to the Register. It raises a heightened sense of awareness and urgency on the matter, city staff said.
Under Murray's proposal, the city would ramp up its efforts with the county, nonprofits and neighboring law enforcement agencies to clean up homeless areas, provide more mental and behavioral services, develop a shelter, and step up enforcement.
To the south, San Diego's mayor announced a plan to erect three commercial-grade tents to house hundreds of homeless people in the face of a deadly hepatitis A epidemic. Mayor Kevin Faulconer said Wednesday that the city needs to shelter people living in the streets as soon as possible so they can have clean restrooms and washing stations.