There were “pollution, fires, litter, and drug use in that area, such as discarded needles, which had a significant environmental impact in an ecologically sensitive area,” Huntington Beach Lt. Brian Smith told The Epoch Times.
The group of homeless people, living at Harriet Wieder Park and Bolsa Chica Conservancy, were removed by the police’s homeless task force on March 10 during a clearing operation.
Homeless encampments in the wetland areas were polluting the land, burning unlawful fires, littering, and committing criminal activity such as drug use and possession of stolen property, according to a Facebook post made by the Huntington Beach Police Department
Smith said 10 to 15 people were originally camping out in the areas.
The homeless task force, Orange County Health Care Agency outreach workers, and Cal-Optima medical workers made frequent trips to the park in the weeks leading up to clearing the land, where they provided residents with resources. They also advised the homeless of unlawful activity they were committing.
During their education and outreach efforts, police arrested three people for narcotics violations and one person who possessed a stolen bicycle, Smith said.
When Huntington Beach police arrived to clear the land, most of the homeless encampments had been cleared out, with just three people remaining.
Police arrested the three for charges including trespassing and drug-related offenses, despite repeated attempts to provide shelter opportunities and other resources.
Smith didn’t know how long the homeless people had been there.
“It’s such a transient area in there where they come and go,” he said. “We’ve gone through and done outreach efforts in there in the past, but there’s no way to say who came there on what day and when they moved around. But they had established encampments, and well-concealed encampments as well.”
After the land was cleared, Orange County Parks and Public Works cleaned massive amounts of trash and property left behind, which took more than a day to complete. The trash filled more than an entire 40-cubic-yard dumpster.
Police are currently storing property left behind, so the homeless residents can claim it later. Pictures show piles of buckets, chairs, tents, cooking hardware, towels, bicycles, and more.
“Through teamwork and perseverance, all agencies involved were able to successfully reduce the trash accumulation and improve the overall safety and quality of Harriet Wieder Park,” the police department said in a statement. “The Huntington Beach Police Department is grateful for all the agencies that were involved in this enforcement operation.”