A sizable homeless encampment near the closed down Hunt Branch Library in Fullerton will be cleared out by 3 p.m. today, the latest episode in a developing saga documented by the Fullerton Rag blog. The library, a gem of a design that came courtesy of renowned architect William L. Pereira, has definitely seen better days.
First, its operating hours were reduced until it was only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays during the week. Then came its closure in late March after an emergency meeting of the Library Board of Trustees cited increasingly dangerous conditions.
Just last week, the Fullerton city council voted to begin the process of leasing the property to Grace Ministries International, a massive Korean-American church compound adjacent to the Hunt. In between all of this, more and more homeless people began camping out near the train tracks around the bend of the library. Now, on short notice, Fullerton police plan to have the area fully cleared out today.
When still open, the Hunt Library always had homeless people either spending their day inside the facility or outside in its grassy park setting. After its shuttering, the pop-up tents near the train tracks that run parallel to Commonwealth Avenue in the Southwest side of the city soon swelled the encampment to upwards of eighty people, according to an estimate of a person who is interviewed in the above video and lives there.
Fullerton police served the notice Wednesday as they were accompanied on-site by county mental health professionals. The department will also reportedly store possessions for a thirty-day period. Part of the rationale given by police for clearing out the encampment was an increase in the number of incident responses and calls to the encampment. Fullerton Rag blogger Matt Leslie questions the timing of the eviction and raid that preceded it seeing that it comes so soon after the leasing process began.
As to where the homeless will go next? That's a question they themselves are asking given all of 48 hours lead time to contemplate the answer.
Follow Gabriel San Román on Twitter @dpalabraz