The residents have complained about their neighborhood being over run with homeless.
You voted for the fuckers in office that allow this crap to take place.
Live with it.
The makeshift bunker beneath a recently-displaced Fountain Valley homeless encampment was big enough for a grown person to stand inside, replete with wood-paneled walls and a support beam, and accessible only via a small hatch camouflaged to blend in with its dirt surroundings.
The half-loaded .357 Magnum found near the same camp, along the Santa Ana River, contained three empty shell casings – meaning it had been fired.
And the 1,000 bicycles discovered hidden away in the flood-control channel’s dark tunnel system in Santa Ana, two miles north of the encampment, could suggest a large-scale theft ring.
Orange County sheriff’s deputies and public employees said they uncovered unusual and dangerous conditions in the recently cleared homeless camps on the riverbed in Fountain Valley and in portions of the river to the north. The findings, they said, posed public safety risks and indicated that the area was rife with crime.
“It just backs up the data that we’ve collected, which says there is a significant criminal element in the homeless encampments,” sheriff’s Lt. Jeff Puckett said.
The sheriff’s department provided no evidence linking the gun or bicycles to any individuals living in the Fountain Valley encampment but said the investigation is ongoing.
County employees discovered the bunker Wednesday, Nov. 16, as part of a cleanup effort after the county forced about 200 people to move out of the area five days earlier.
The cavern’s hatch was concealed beneath a thin layer of dirt. But once workers opened the plywood trapdoor, they found a series of wooden steps that took them six feet underground, to a reinforced, 10-foot-by-10-foot room big enough for a 5-foot-7-inch person to stand upright.
Officials don’t know how the bunker was built or who used it.
“We’re not sure what (the room) was for – probably some type of living situation,” Puckett said. “It’s nothing I’ve ever seen before.”
The county moved to clear the encampment, located between Warner and Edinger avenues, following months of complaints from neighbors that homeless people were trespassing, harassing residents and stealing from nearby homes. Some of the discoveries, officials said, add credence to those neighbors’ complaints and fears.
The gun, for example, is of interest to investigators. Puckett declined to say where the gun was found, though he indicated it was discovered a week ago. He also couldn’t discuss if the gun was used in any open crimes or other details of the investigation.
The bicycle collection also is being investigated.
Though makeshift chop shops where bicycles are taken apart, cleaned and reassembled are a common sight along several portions of the lengthy riverbed homeless encampments, Pucket said he’d never seen a collection as big as the 1,000 bicycles hidden in Santa Ana. The bikes were found just south of the river’s Fairview Street overpass.
Puckett wouldn’t speculate how many of the bikes were stolen, citing the ongoing investigation, saying “common sense would dictate that if you have 1,000 bikes in a tunnel… some of them were stolen.”
After Public Works employees discovered the stockpile two weeks ago, workers labored to drag the bicycles out of the tunnels before hauling them off in four large trucks to a nearby storage yard. Puckett said at some point the department probably will let the public look at the cache in an effort to reunite lost or stolen bikes with their owners.
Fountain Valley police Sgt. Kham Vang said the city hadn’t recently experienced an increase in bike thefts, though he noted that most bicycle thefts go unreported.
But neighborhood residents offer a different story, saying they’ve noticed an increase in bike thefts and other crimes.
“I’m not surprised at any of these things they found, other than the bunker,” said Kris Gillan, who owns a condo near the riverbed. “This is why we tried and tried to get (sheriff’s deputies and Fountain Valley) out there, but nothing was done for a long, long time.”
She said a neighbor’s bike was stolen recently off a patio, and that she regularly saw people lurking in the complex and looking inside parked cars. As the encampment grew, she said, so did crime.
“I feel safer now that they’re gone,” Gillan said.
“But how did it get this bad? I hope the county has learned their lesson.”
Earlier this year, the sheriff’s department and local police departments disputed which agency had jurisdiction over portions of the riverbed, leaving some areas largely unpatrolled. That changed in September, when the sheriff’s department began patrolling the Santa Ana River encampments, making hundreds of arrests. And during the past week, the county began enforcing a public-access curfew to the river trail, hiring private security guards to help enforce it.
Supervisor Todd Spitzer said Thursday that the bicycles and the recovered gun were proof that “the riverbed encampments are a serious public safety concern and the county must continue to clear out these trespassers.”
But as the county worked last Friday to clear the Fountain Valley encampment, many homeless people said they didn’t know where they would move. Social service workers said the action will simply push some people back to the streets of adjacent cities and force others to move to the already-crowded riverbed encampments in Anaheim and Orange, where neighbors and businesses also are complaining.