Anaheim Councilwoman Lucille Kring has hit upon what she considers an ideal solution to the city’s homeless problem: turn parks where homeless people congregate into dog parks.

“It’s a social activity. It’s wonderful for the dogs. It’s wonderful for the owners, and it really keeps the homeless out,” Kring said.

Kring was responding to several frustrated residents who attended the council meeting and complained about homeless people at Twila Reid Park in west Anaheim. They demanded the city do something to rid the park of homeless people and said adjacent neighborhoods had become havens of crime and drug use.

Kring’s response was rooted in past practices by city officials. The homeless population in the city’s La Palma Park went down significantly after they turned it largely into a dog park, Kring said. OC Weekly reported on the tactic earlier this year.

Kring also indicated that when she and others conducted a flashlight dog walk through Maxwell Park, which is nearby Twila Reid, it helped scare homeless people away.

“A few months ago my policy aide and I had a flashlight dog walk at Maxwell with the police who take care of west side, and it was wonderful, there were no homeless that night there,” Kring said.

Kring asked that turning either Twila Reid Park or Maxwell Park into a dog park to keep out homeless people be placed on an upcoming council meeting agenda.

Kring, however, did not make any suggestions regarding how to help the homeless people who would be displaced. And she went so far as to criticize churches that provide food for the homeless people at Twila Reid Park.

“I would like them immediately to stop feeding the homeless,” Kring said. “You’ve got the trash. You’ve got everything incorporated with feeding people who should not be fed there.”

Following these comments and Kring’s direction that the city manager request that the church not feed the homeless people, residents in the audience applauded.

Kring’s comments were not entirely harsh toward homeless people. At one point, when she was about to say that having good people in the parks doing things keeps the bad people out, she stopped herself and said the city does have an obligation to be compassionate.

“I don’t want to say bad people because a lot of people aren’t homeless by choice, they’re homeless because of an illness or bankruptcy, a divorce, thank God a lot of us are not there,” she said. “But who’s to say not one day.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

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