Then along came Catholic Worker, and SUED OC over the Riverbed Homeless Evictions!




A Catholic worker from a previous century – St George – also defeated a vicious dragon in order to protect the weak.  See telltale tent.

Long rumored, now it’s reality – Orange County’s unconscionable and cavalier treatment of its thousands of homeless people – most recently in its Riverbed Evictions – has resulted in a lawsuit from the Orange County Catholic Worker (and 7 homeless folks) aimed at halting those evictions.  First, if you care to, watch Lou Noble’s videotape of the press conference held this morning – so appropriately!  – in front of the ARTIC station, OC’s $200 million monument to government waste and corruption, which many of us thought would make a decent homeless shelter itself.  Then, at our leisure, we can examine the actual lawsuit, which I have taken the liberty of linking to HERE.

I give you the Catholic Worker’s Brooke Weitzman:

Posted by Lou Noble on Monday, January 29, 2018


This suit, filed in Federal Court this morning by the Elder Law and Disability Rights Center, is aiming HIGH, against the County as well as the cities of Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa, on behalf of Catholic Worker and seven named homeless people, for violating their First, Fourth, Fifth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights..  Let’s start with the relief being asked for:

  • Catholic Worker wants a “temporary restraining order, preliminary and permanent injunction” stopping the following:  the County from closing or limiting the hours of the riverbed trail at least until there’s enough housing for the 1000+ people there; the County from citing people for trespassing or nuisance for simply existing and having property on the riverbed;  the three named cities from enforcing their anti-camping ordinances, and from stopping, detaining, and ticketing folks for being present in public space;  and Anaheim particularly from enforcing its loitering ordinance.
  • a declaratory judgment that the conduct described violated plaintiffs’ rights under both state and federal constitutions; and
  • unspecified damages and legal fees.

The bulk of the 40-page complaint, reading like Kafka meets Dickens, tells the story of our County’s and Cities’ checkered and mostly punitive attempts to deal with our ever-growing homelessness crisis.  There’s really no substitute for reading it yourself.  Either that or miss gems like paragraph 3:

Over the past year, Orange County, Anaheim, Orange and Costa Mesa have taken actions to force unhoused people into the area of the Santa Ana Riverbed between the Santa Ana Freeway and Ball Road.  Now the County is taking steps to push those people back into the surrounding cities without a plan for housing or shelter.  The failure, if not the outright refusal, of Orange County and its cities to adopt positive measures to address the housing crisis and the willingness to criminalize the mere act of existing in public spaces takes a toll on the County’s most vulnerable people.  At every opportunity the County and its cities have invested in enforcement instead of housing, blaming other entities for the problem, and leaving unhoused people with nowhere to turn, nowhere to live, and nowhere to sleep.

Or paragraph 8:

…Despite the fact that the vast majority of the unhoused population in the County is in this situation through no fault of their own, the response of the government entities has been to punish poverty.  Nearly every City in the County criminalizes homelessness through ordinances that make it unlawful to be present, sit or sleep in a public place even if a person is without a home.  To avoid harassment and incarceration for violating these and similar laws criminalizing the basic necessities of living, many people move to locations such as the Santa Ana Riverbed, hoping that law enforcement will not interfere or harass them while they try to survive.

Read on, from paragraphs 10 to 13, for a refresher course in our County’s historic fecklessness – a long-forgotten 2005 Grand Jury report looking all the way back to 1988 and condemning the foolishness of the County’s criminalization while setting a new course forward… and it is all looking like deja vu all over again. 

Read the disgraceful tale of the County’s actions of this past year on the riverbed, paragraphs 14 to 35. 

Those of you who might find yourselves claiming that available shelter exists should really read paragraphs 36-44.  

And the personal stories of the seven homeless plaintiffs (p. 50-82) are as good reading as any journalism, and should be required reading for all the haters and blamers out there.

The Orange Juice Blog will be following and covering this trial for sure!


Meanwhile, Tim Houchen and Hope 4 Restoration invites you to a Housewarming Party for Lucinda and Jonathan, a formerly homeless couple who just got an apartment after months in the Kraemer Shelter.  THIS SATURDAY, just after the Anaheim Democratic Club meeting, between 4-7, in La Habra.  More info here.




About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at, or 714-235-VERN.