State officials Tuesday agreed to keep the winter season homeless shelters in Santa Ana and Fullerton open for another 90 days in an effort to help officials continue moving transients out of the Plaza of the Flags area next to the Central Justice Center courthouse in Santa Ana.
U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, who has been overseeing a federal lawsuit challenging the enforcement of anti-camping laws, last week said he was concerned about how county officials would handle the “download” of transients from the armories in Santa Ana and Fullerton when other county shelters are near capacity as transients are being moved out of the Civic Center area in Santa Ana.
Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, said she contacted Gov. Jerry Brown’s office over the weekend and then met with his staff on Monday.
“We also knew we had to work with the National Guard” on keeping the armories open, Quirk-Silva said.
On Tuesday, state officials were able to work out an agreement to keep the overnight shelters open for the next three months.
Quirk-Silva said she spoke with Carter on Tuesday to update him on the news.
“He told me he was very glad to hear the news,” she said. “He really feels like we can solve this in Orange County, and he was happy to see the development since Friday.”
County officials have been struggling to find beds for the transients being moved out of the Plaza of the Flags, said Orange County Board of Supervisors Chairman Andrew Do. The problem is especially nettlesome for women, he added.
Last month, officials moved hundreds of transients off the Santa Ana Riverbed with 30-day motel and food vouchers. From there, many were placed in various other more long-term shelters.
County officials had proposed placing tents — or what are technically known as sprung structures — in Irvine, Huntington Beach and Laguna Niguel, but residents in those cities erupted in opposition and the Board of Supervisors backed off from the plan.
The board will hold a special meeting on April 17 to discuss updates on the homeless issue. Mayors in south Orange County cities will meet April 19 to consider how they can contribute emergency shelters.
Carter told Irvine Mayor Don Wagner that cities in the southern part of the county take transients to services in Santa Ana and leave them there, so the southern county cities need to take more responsibility for shouldering the burden of helping the homeless.
Cities are prohibited from enforcing anti-camping laws if they cannot demonstrate they have enough shelter beds for the transients.