Orange County

Crackdown on river trail camps to start

HOMELESS ENCAMPMENT on Santa Ana River bank (Flickr/Itenny1225).

A crackdown on the homeless encampments along the Santa Ana River Trail will begin on Friday, Orange County officials have announced. Hours that the trail is open to the public will be enforced starting on Friday and access to the west side of the flood control channel between 17th Street and Adams Avenue in Fountain Valley will be closed on Nov. 10.

Public trail hours are 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 and 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. March 1 to Oct. 31. Anyone found in the restricted area will be subject to citation for trespass.

“The enforcement of public hours will enable the county to ensure the safety and security of the recreational use of the trail, while simultaneously protecting the integrity of the flood control channel for its intended purpose,” said Khalid Bazmi, chief engineer of the Orange County Flood Control District in a memorandum.

The installation of new signage is underway this week, and gate installation is expected to start later this year and be completed by mid-2018. The gates will be locked at closing time and the area patrolled by law enforcement officers.

Affected public hours will be the stretch from 17th Street in Fountain Valley north to Imperial Highway in Anaheim.

“Over the past seven weeks the Sheriff’s Homeless Outreach team has identified that a significant criminal element exists on the riverbed, posing a threat to public safety,” said Orange County Undersheriff Don Barnes. “We are working to mitigate this danger. The Sheriff’s Department is willing to enforce any restrictions or closure the county chooses to impose.”

County officials say that efforts to relocate and offer shelter to homeless persons in the area continue.

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