Orange County is going to begin enforcing public access hours on a stretch of the Santa Ana River trail between Huntington Beach and Anaheim. This is expected to displace a large population of homeless people who have set up camp along the river. The west side of the flood control channel between 17th Street in Santa Ana and Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach has been permanently closed since Nov. 10th. However, the east side of the channel remains open during public hours, which are seven in the morning to six in the afternoon. Khalid Bazmi, chief engineer of the Orange County Flood Control District, wrote in a memo to the Board of Supervisors, stated,
The enforcement of public hours will enable the county to ensure the safety and security of the recreational users of the trail while simultaneously protecting the integrity of the flood control channel for its intended purpose.
Anyone on the Santa Ana River trail outside the posted hours will be considered in violation of state trespassing laws and will be cited. The county is expected to install gates at all public entrances this year, so that the gates will be locked daily at closing time. Supervisor Todd Spitzer stated that homeowners and local businesses have complained in recent months about property crimes and safety issues related to homeless encampments, which ultimately prompted the county to act. Spitzer was also worried that the Santa Ana River trial would become Orange County’s skid row. Hopefully the closure of the trail will help out with public safety and discourage homeless people from sleeping near there, which could be dangerous for them.