Local News

Fullerton to Clear Gilbert and Valencia Homeless Encampments

On November 18, notices went up on trees along the Gilbert and Valencia homeless encampments in Fullerton announcing that beginning December 4, the police department would begin limited enforcement of the city’s anti-camping ordinance.

Fullerton’s settlement agreement with the OC Catholic Worker lawsuit regarding a lack of shelter beds, along with the 2018 Martin v. Boise court decision, prevent cities from enforcing their anti-camping ordinances unless there are adequate shelter beds available.

According to City Manager Ken Domer, “The limited enforcement at the Gilbert/Valencia encampment is being allowed and monitored by Judge Carter [the federal judge overseeing the lawsuit against the county] due to the City’s efforts to address homelessness through the pilot Safe Parking Program and our working with Illumination Foundation on the proposed recuperative care/navigation center.”

Notice posted on trees along the Gilbert homeless encampment.

On October 1, Fullerton City Council voted to approve a six-month temporary “Safe Parking” program to allow for limited overnight parking for people experiencing homeless and/or families who currently dwell in their vehicles. This program began on November 12, and thus far only a handful of vehicles have been using it each night.

On November 5, Fullerton City Council voted  to enter into a cooperative funding agreement with local non-profit the Illumination Foundation to provide $500,000 of City funds for the development of a proposed recuperative care/navigation center in Fullerton for individuals experiencing homelessness.

“The Judge is allowing [anti-camping enforcement] based on assurances by Illumination Foundation that they will have available beds for those currently at the encampment,” Domer said. “It is not City-wide.  The Settlement Agreement allows City-wide enforcement once 200 beds are available at the Buena Park and Placentia facilities.”

Fullerton has committed funds toward two upcoming “Navigation Centers” [shelters with wraparound social services] in Placentia and Buena Park, which are scheduled to open in 2020.

Additionally, the city has opened the National Guard Armory to as an emergency shelter during the winter months.

The homeless encampment along Gilbert.

Brooke Weitzman, a lawyer who helped bring the original suit against the county and its cities due to a lack of shelter beds, gave this statement, “Enforcement without an available and appropriate alternative would certainly violate the settlement agreement and the law. While some of the statements and notices are concerning, we remain cautiously optimistic that the City will continue to partner with their neighbors on evidence-based solutions and refrain from any attempt to push residents into neighboring cities like Anaheim or Buena Park before the shelters open. That said, we applaud any efforts the city makes to get proper assessments and appropriate placements for homeless families. If the City has solutions for even 10-15 people, we are always excited to collaborate on getting people off the streets and on track to stable housing. Particularly as it gets colder and rainier, we are excited to support steps toward solutions any way we can, even one small group at a time.”

The notice posted along Gilbert and Valencia states: “Persons camping on the public sidewalk on Gilbert St. and Valencia Dr. will be offered immediate sheltering and assessment services through the Illumination Foundation (www.ifhomeless.org). Persons refusing shelter options will be subject to enforcement.

“Outreach and Engagement Personnel will contact each person camping in violation of FMC 7.105.020. Persons accepting an offer of sheltering will be provided appropriate transportation and appropriate possessions not brought to the shelter may be cataloged and stored for up to 90 days. Persons declining offered placement will be given a warning and an opportunity to immediately leave the location before engaging in citations and/or arrest. Persons issued a citation and/or arrested may participate in the Dispute-Resolution Process as provided in the Settlement Agreement; however, representatives of the United States District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division, will be present on December 4, 2019 to monitor and assist with matters related to the Dispute-Resolution Process.

“Enforcement of FMC 7.105.020 will occur prior to the regularly scheduled cleaning of the street and sidewalks on Gilbert St. and Valencia Dr. ALL PERSONAL ITEMS MUST BE PERMANENTLY REMOVED FROM THIS AREA BY 9:00AM. NO TEMPORARY STORAGE WILL BE AVAILABLE. The City will conduct power washing and debris removal beginning at 9:00AM. The City will provide ORANGE trash bags and trash severs prior to this cleaning. Any unattended items left on the public right-of-way (such as tents and large items) will be documented, collected a held for 90 days at the City’s Public Works yard (1580 W. Commonwealth).

For information on items not picked up and stored for 90 days, or for information about the City’s efforts please call: (714) 738-6562.

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6 replies »

  1. While dressed in perhaps rather dramatic terms, what is playing out is exactly what Paul Leon has been promising us and the City for the last two years — as soon as the Illumination FoundTion would be allowed to operate in the city then it would be able to more the (two years ago 10-12, last January the vast majority of the 30 or so, and today back down to about 15-20 or so) people sleeping first on our ground and since the end of June just off of them into various appropriate Illumination Foundation facilities.

    Now that the City has approved a trial safe parking program (located in another part if the city) and voted to approve a $500K contribution for a much needed 150 bed Navigation / Recuperative Care Center, things are moving and the 15-20 people sleeping along the sidewalk there on Gilbert / Valencia will be soon sleeping in rooms with access to showers and laundry without fear of being expelled each morning before dawn.

    And it should be to the “surprise” of absolutely no one still recognizing the inalienable humanity of the homeless folks sleeping along Gilbert / Valencia that _the vast majority of the folks_ have already accepted the deal.

    Yes, it took _next to no pursuation_ much less “force” to accept a private room, warm bed and a shower… to sleeping in a tent on three feet if sidewalk on the street.

    There is much more left to do of course. The PIT Count had 473 people homeless in Fullerton last year. The current resolution of the situation on Gilbert / Valencia will provide true dignified shelter (though still not permanent housing) for 15-20 of them… with 450-473 to go. BUT IT IS A START.

    God bless all those including the Mayor Jesus Silva and his wife CA-Assembly woman Sharon Quirk Silva as well as EVERYONE FROM THE CITY’s large and robust InterFaith Community who stepped up and made their voices heard to make at least this _modest_ start happen.

  2. While dressed in perhaps rather dramatic terms, what is playing out is exactly what Paul Leon has been promising us and the City for the last two years — as soon as the Illumination Foundation would be allowed to operate in the city then it would be able to move the (two years ago 10-12, last January the vast majority of the 30 or so, and today back down to about 15-20 or so) people sleeping first on our ground and since the end of June just off of them into various appropriate Illumination Foundation facilities.

    Now that the City has approved a trial safe parking program (located in another part if the city) and voted to approve a $500K contribution for a much needed 150 bed Navigation / Recuperative Care Center, things are moving and the 15-20 people sleeping along the sidewalk there on Gilbert / Valencia will be soon sleeping in rooms with access to showers and laundry without fear of being expelled each morning before dawn.

    And it should be to the “surprise” of absolutely no one still recognizing the inalienable humanity of the homeless folks sleeping along Gilbert / Valencia that _the vast majority of the folks_ have already accepted the deal.

    Yes, it took _next to no persuasion_ much less “force” to accept a private room, warm bed and a shower… to sleeping in a tent on three feet if sidewalk on the street.

    There is much more left to do of course. The PIT Count had 473 people homeless in Fullerton last year. The current resolution of the situation on Gilbert / Valencia will provide true dignified shelter (though still not permanent housing) for 15-20 of them… with 450-473 to go. BUT IT IS A START.

    God bless all those including the Mayor Jesus Silva and his wife CA-Assembly woman Sharon Quirk Silva as well as EVERYONE FROM THE CITY’s large and robust InterFaith Community who stepped up and made their voices heard to make at least this _modest_ start happen.

  3. Father Dennis please move those 15-20 homeless people on Gilbert/Valencia Dr to your residential street outside your home and deal with the filth, thieves, drug addicts, and animal abusers day and night. And yes they are thieves who display their stolen goods like numerous Stolen bikes on your church gates, with documented numerous calls for animal abuse and drug use and disturbing the peace around the clock. You provided and made a disgusting mess on the Gilbert and Valencia streets and do not live with it nor deal with these homeless people at all. You go to work in your church then go home to a ice clean street and neighborhood. If you really want to help the mess that you made on Gilbert and Valencia, then take those homeless people and their crap to your neck of the woods and help them there and maybe your neighbors might join in, which I highly doubt, but it’s worth a shot.

  4. Hi Robert,

    It would seem then that you’re going to be happy that after nearly two years of this, one and a half years on our campus and five months off of it, that finally the 15-20 or so people who are left sleeping here on Gilbert/Valencia will have a decent place to go to.

    Then your description of them could be taken two ways: First, you may be making the Fullerton Police look needlessly bad because if there had been serious crimes going on among these people, then they would have clearly made a decision to do nothing about it (I _don’t_ think that was the case). But of course you are almost certainly taking the second course, that of heaping all kinds of calumnies on people who are already down as it is. Those of us my age and above know this well, because all of us grew up with these sort of things being said of various marginalized groups of the past. “Oh no, I’m not against people of color, I’m just against crime…” Again, we all grew up with that and knowing _exactly_ what was being said there.

    Now if we are talking of crime, the first crime is simply that the people were allowed fall to the street to begin with. And subsequent complaints about their “dirtiness” and otherwise “uncouthness” is somewhat akin to jeering at / trying to cite Jesus for “public exposure” after having stripped him of his clothes and nailing him to a cross… get him off the cross, get him to a hospital, get him up again, and then talk…

    But all this is thankfully coming to an end for these 15 people. There are 450-460 to go. Whether our particular block will remain “homeless frei” “desde entonces” will be interesting. Certainly, the case could be made that we’ve all “done our share” and other blocks of our fair city / part of the county deserve to “share our joy.” But the reality is that until all 473 of the homeless folks among us in this town are given a dignified place to go, they will remain among us, somewhere. People don’t disappear, not in a country ruled by law anyway.

    Finally, I’ve never particularly liked living “off campus” … that you know. But spending $300K to make a point to completely dot the i-s seems rather poor use of resources. And I think given what’s been said about me by all kinds of people over these years, no one can really say that I’ve somehow “walked through the raindrops.” Still after 2 years, NO SERIOUS INCIDENT (or really ANY incident) 15-20 people will finally have a dignified place to stay. Not a bad deal for someone who does try to believe…

    Fr. Dennis

    • Please take off the rose colored glasses. We as law abiding citizens can no longer endure the burden placed upon our community, infrastructure, and businesses. The lengths we as citizens go to protect our health, safety, and personal belongings used for daily living is overbearing.

  5. And this is the path to slaughter. Every group that every two-bit demagogue has ever wanted to eliminate has been first characterized as being “parasites.” The Communists for instance exhorted the “hard working class” to eliminate the “parasitic, non-working rich…” Hatred inverts very easily on oneself … In closed systems almost all of us could be deemed “useless” by one or another group clawing their way “to be in charge.”

    The best defense is to do what the UN did in 1948 with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … declaring that ALL OF US matter. And if there was any doubt, the Catholic Church blessed this in 1963 with St. John XXIII’s encyclical Pacem in Terris. Once we go down that path that one person matters and another does not, we open ourselves to the threat that we ourselves don’t matter either.

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