As Orange County officers filter out homeless encampments alongside the Santa Ana River, they’re making some sudden discoveries,
In one space, they discovered an underground bunker accessible from a picket hatch camouflaged with dust.
In one other, greater than 1,000 bicycles tucked in a separate tunnel have been discovered.
The county started clearing greater than 150 homeless individuals from the world between Warner and Edinger avenues on Nov. 7 after months of complaints from close by condominium residents about unsanitary circumstances and different nuisances on the encampment.
Lt. Jeff Puckett mentioned the Sheriff’s Department has made greater than 260 arrests previously a number of months in numerous encampments alongside the river path in reference to crimes similar to theft, badault and trespbading.
However, homeless advocates have contended the county is criminalizing homelessness and shuffling the camps’ inhabitants round as a substitute of fixing the rising drawback.
When public works crews arrived to scrub up trash two weeks in the past, they found greater than 1,000 bicycles tucked right into a tunnel alongside the concrete river mattress in Santa Ana, simply south of the river’s Fairview Street overpbad.
“I’ve been doing this job for 20 years, and even I was stunned by that one,” Puckett mentioned.
Workers dragged out the bikes and hauled them to a storage yard.
Puckett mentioned the division doubtless will permit the general public to have a look at the bikes in some unspecified time in the future in an effort to reunite individuals with misplaced or stolen property.
Authorities mentioned there have been indications that somebody was residing within the space the place the bikes have been discovered, however they haven’t recognized the individual or how and why the bikes have been obtained.
Authorities mentioned they don’t know the way most of the bikes might need been stolen.
“Common sense would usually dictate if you have 1,000 bikes in a tunnel, some of them could be stolen,” Puckett mentioned.
On Thursday, county officers discovered a man-made bunker six ft underground alongside the path. A plywood lure door opened to picket steps, which led to a 10-by-10-foot residing house bolstered with wooden beams. The room was tall sufficient for an grownup to face in, authorities mentioned.
Puckett mentioned the bunker was empty when authorities stumbled upon it.
Kris Gillan, who lives within the New Chase condominiums close to the river path in Fountain Valley, mentioned that of all of the objects discovered, she was most shocked to listen to concerning the bunker.
“Nothing like guns, trash and needles would shock me, but the fact that someone had a whole downstairs living arrangement … it’s weird that they built it without us knowing,” she mentioned.
Gillan mentioned she will be able to’t consider it took officers months to start clearing the world.
“It’s like, ‘Shame on you, county. Look what was going on,’ ” she mentioned. “We tried to tell you.”
The county plans to completely shut the west facet of the flood-control channel between 17th Street in Santa Ana and Adams Avenue in Huntington Beach because it prepares to start out upkeep of Orange County Flood Control District property alongside the path, officers have mentioned.
Before upkeep begins, Orange County Public Works officers have been tasked with cleansing particles and trash from the previous encampment in Fountain Valley.
Puckett mentioned officers discovered a .357 Magnum containing three empty shell casings — indicating to authorities that it had been fired — close to the camp. The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the place the gun got here from.
The path was abandoned Friday afternoon. Orange luggage stuffed with trash have been lined up ready to be hauled away.
Nearby residents mentioned a lot of the homeless individuals who had arrange camp there packed up and left inside three days of the county’s enforcement effort.
Gillan mentioned the world is quiet and getting cleaner every single day.
County officers hope to maintain it that approach. The Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to pay California Panther Security $450,000 over the following two years to have unarmed safety guards open and shut gates alongside the path and report trespbaders to the Sheriff’s Department, in accordance with a county workers report.