Officials ramping up efforts to take back Santa Ana River Trail

After years of helping homeless over residents and recreationalists, elected officials this week finally mustered the courage to take back the Santa Ana River Trail.

Sure, the catalyst apparently was a series of columns that sparked more than 13,500 petition signatures. One person behind the scenes said, “It changed the conversation.”

But the point is that officials do listen — and do act.

In a critical show of unity, every Anaheim city council member early Wednesday morning, Sept. 13, bravely voted to declare a state of emergency that will offer homeless people alternative housing with a 60-day deadline.

Let’s agree that a city that may become a national lightning rod for announcing a state of emergency over homelessness isn’t in the pocket of “the happiest place on Earth.”

The three-pronged mission: Restore the designated National Recreation Trail to its intended purpose; return normalcy to neighborhoods near the river; eliminate — with compassion — extraordinarily unsafe and unsanitary conditions.

Similarly, the Orange County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan to have Orange County Sheriff’s deputies patrol the river trail. Undersheriff Don Barnes said Wednesday that two deputies and a sergeant will start the riverbed patrols as soon as this Friday, with 12-hour daily shifts.

Barnes added additional resources will be brought in if necessary. “We’ll focus on areas,” Barnes said, “where encampments exist.”

The undersheriff, however, was careful to note that the entire river trail will constantly be reviewed. “We don’t want a squeeze the balloon mentality,” he explained, “where the…

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