A federal judge has ordered Orange County officials to halt their efforts to clear homeless encampments from the Santa Ana riverbed.
The decision came late Tuesday night after lawyers for homeless people camped along the river requested an emergency stop to the sheriff’s department’s plans to begin enforcing trespassing laws in the area.
“The Court ENJOINS Defendants from enforcement of any infraction or misdemeanor anti-loitering, trespassing, or camping ordinances or statutes at the Riverbed, in light of these laws not having been enforced for the last year,” Judge David O. Carter wrote in his ruling.
He wrote further that he "will not allow haphazard, hurried enforcement action in an effort to clear the population.”
The number of homeless people camped along the Santa Ana River bike trail behind Angel Stadium has exploded in recent years, reaching an estimated 500 to 1,000 people. The county has sought to clear the encampments on several occasions, most recently in January, citing public health and safety concerns.