Santa Ana River Trail’s 700 Homeless Residents Relocated


Ken Steinhardt of the OC Register

Homeless tents on the river trail as visitors bike by.

Kathleen Toblesky, Photojournalist

The Santa Ana River Trail’s 700-plus homeless residents were relocated on Monday, February 26 to clean up the massive amounts of debris. The action was granted by US District Court Judge, David Carter, who made sure that the area’s former resident were dealt with respect and care.


The relocation took roughly six days to evacuate all 700 homeless to motels and shelters spread across Orange County. According to Brooke Weitzman, one of the attorneys who sued Orange County on behalf of seven of the homeless people, no arrests were made during the entire process; the operation was executed rather smoothly.


Until the relocation was complete, the trail had it’s gates closed to any unauthorized personnel, like the bikers who go on the trail normally. After clearing the area of the homeless, clean up work began to restore the trail to its former glory. According to the Santa Ana River Trail website, the trail is predicted to be closed for about a total of two weeks.


For those who had been living on the River Trail for around ten years were sent to facilities providing recuperative, mental health, and medical care.


“This was a landmark process with so many different groups combining forces,” said Weitzman. According to her, the court will be involved throughout the entire the entire process. Judge Carter himself was even personally involved in the relocation efforts. He toured the site and assisted in moving the homeless to shelters.


“When was the last time the trash was picked up out here? How often do they come? How many needles are you finding? What kind of help are folks accepting and refusing?” the judge asked, showing a clear concern for the people. While touring the debris-filled site, he tools pictures of the land and the people who had to live in such conditions.


Throughout the process, the judge was intent on removing the illegal tent-homes, which could create a public safety issue, according to the LA Times.