By Eric Heinz

San Clemente has a homeless problem—on all fronts.

From the discourse at city council meetings to the litany of Facebook contingents, the city at-large isn’t getting any closer to finding a solution, and Tuesday provided an unbridled display of what that means.

As the city is now being sued by Orange County Catholic and its cohorts that wield the sword of the ACLU, San Clemente is scrambling to find a solution to its most visible blemish at North Beach.

In 2017, residents in San Clemente asked the city government not to place a homeless shelter, basically, anywhere. Now they’re asking for an emergency temporary shelter to address the humanity that’s spilling over in North Beach.

The Tuesday, March 19, San Clemente City Council meeting saw a deluge of anger that had been culminating since the Ninth Circuit Court ruled cities cannot remove people from camping in public places if they do not have a place for them to go.

Gene James, who ran for city council in 2018, had a few ideas of his own to address the issues.

“I’m confident…we can overcome the nonsense of the ACLU and a Clinton-appointed judge (Judge David O. Carter, who is presiding over the case),” James said. “Kudos for removing the vegetation at North Beach (on Tuesday) and the maintenance on the hill leading up to Ole Hanson (Beach Club) yesterday. As I sit here and watch, we have five or six city workers waiting to do (work) on the clock as we handle these reprobates with kid gloves, to be honest with you.”
James said he wants to look at placing decomposed granite on the embankment to OHBC; otherwise, “It’s just a motel for them.”

One woman was removed by Mayor Steve Swartz after she led a verbal attack against a woman from Capistrano Beach. The woman speaking had just introduced herself before there was a profane outburst from the back of the Council Chambers.

David Thompson said that he’s almost been run over by drivers who try to photograph and video the homeless people at North Beach.

“I’ve seen the after-effects—people who said they’ve been firebombed…stalked, and harassed because they’re homeless,” Thompson said. “I’m not for the enabling of homeless; I know it’s a dance working through this whole thing.”

Thompson said he was sympathetic, but that the vigilantism and stalking are going too far.

“It’s not okay to attack people. To me, that’s crossing the line,” he said.

San Clemente City Attorney Scott Smith said that the council decided to look for areas where temporary shelters of a number of beds can be placed. People who spoke also said they wanted to see which homeless people the city should be responsible for due to their local ties and willingness to accept services.

“We will look for an immediate interim shelter and follow up with the sheriffs,” Ferguson told the San Clemente Times following the meeting. The locations the city seeks were not disclosed during the meeting.

Representatives of the nonprofit organization iHope invited journalists and photographers to a tour of locations within SB 2-zoned areas of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano on Tuesday, April 17. Pictured, this empty lot is located at the corner of Calle Amanecer and Calle Sombra, within the homeless shelter overlay in the San Clemente Business Park. Photo: Eric Heinz
Representatives of the nonprofit organization iHope invited journalists and photographers to a tour of locations within SB 2-zoned areas of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano in 2018. Pictured, this empty lot is located at the corner of Calle Amanecer and Calle Sombra, within the homeless shelter overlay in the San Clemente Business Park. Photo: Eric Heinz

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comments (11)

  • This article is completely biased and only reports less than half of the truth. Eric should be ashamed of himself for writing such a poor representation of the truth.

  • First off, there was no profanity used when that woman yelled out for the speaker to “sit down”. And just so the facts are clear….I remember the same speaker that was up there last night….M.M., had also yelled at a resident speaker to “sit down” while he had just started with his comment. So its sad that this was never mentioned in the article. And why it was never mentioned in any article how rude this woman was and her outburst was clear as day.

    Another issue with this article is the author taking what one commenter said as actual truth. Not once has there been “firebombs” thrown at the vagrants at NB. NOT once has there been people going 40 mph in the parking lot. For one the cops are ALWAYS there, so one would be pretty dumb to go speeding 40 mph in a crowded parking lot. And maybe the reason the cops are down there is because of all the inappropriate, vulgar, fighting, drug dealing, illegal, and defecating behavior that goes down in that area on a daily, if not hourly basis. Lets try to get the story straight.

  • I’m troubled by the disingenuous reporting here. The nonsense about fire bombing and harassment was spewed by an apparently unhinged gentleman who was making unfounded ridiculous claims. The fact that this article repeats it as if it actually happened without qualifying the statements hints at either poor reporting or an agenda. Also, the characterization of the comments made by the person shouting “sit down” and “interloper” as “profanity” while not mentioning that the “resident” being shouted at was an attorney who is suing the city on behalf of the homeless, smacks of opinion rather than objective reporting. I really hope it’s just poor writing rather than editorial masquerading as news.

  • Please do some homework before publishing “news” like this or stop masquerading editorial opinion ad news.

    The firebombing and harassment nonsense could easily be verified by a “reporter” if they had an interest in honesty. And the woman being shouted at should have been identified as a non resident attorney who is suing San Clemente on behalf of the homeless who has been openly antagonistic toward San Clemente residents and doesn’t seem to care about the welfare of the many residents who have to face the many dangers being brought into our town by this new criminal element.

  • should this be on the news page? It’s clearly an opinion piece based on the way it was written. You mislead people by describing the “woman from Capistrano Beach” without mentioning that she’s an attorney suing the city. Also quoting the wacky guy making easily verifiable claims of “firebombing” was simply bad reporting and promotion of a false narrative. Shame on you.

    • Hi Tom,

      I respectfully disagree. I was at the meeting and it was incredibly intense. I don’t need the guy who spoke at council to characterize the social media presence that’s been critical of the homeless; Facebook does that just fine for me without any other kind of inflammatory verbs. As far as balance, I’m pretty sure I gave credence to the main narrative in the long quote from Mr. James. Can you please send me the court case in which she’s suing the city? I’m not familiar with her involvement. Thanks for the feedback!

  • EVERYONE needs to watch this Investigate Report. It is one hour but is a must watch. It is the finest piece of Investigative Video Journalism I have every seen.

    You may need to cut and paste this URL or Google “Seattle is Dying”

    https://komonews.com/news/local/komo-news-special-seattle-is-dying

  • Dear Eric,
    You obviously weren’t at the City Council meeting—I was however. There was no profanity. The woman yelled “sit down” at the speaker. This woman speaker yelled the same last year at another City Council meeting to a citizen speaking—I was there as well.
    Get your facts right before reporting.

    • We used the word profane, not profanity. The facts are still correct. I don’t recall ever hearing someone shout that loud at a city council meeting but feel free to send me a link to the council meeting. They’re all on YouTube.

      • Definition of profanity: profane language; the quality of being profane.
        Merrriam-Webster

        In your article, you made it appear worse than it was by using the adjective profane. She was loud, yes.

  • Ya’all can feel free to ask the police about the fire-bombing incident.

    Oh, and thanks for the JD.

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