Monday, July 10, 2017

'Nowhere to go': By Disneyland, benches favored by homeless are removed

Growing up in Anaheim, Robert Hanley knew Disneyland well. His high school band played there. “And the funny thing is, when I got into the workforce as a younger gentleman, I helped build California Adventure,” he said, referring to a theme park inside the main resort. “I did electrical.” Hanley even has a Tinker Bell tattoo on his right bicep. But he hasn’t been back to Disneyland recently. He is one of about 800 people living on the streets on any given night in Anaheim, a Los Angeles-area city that boasts over 20 million annual visitors and billions of dollars in tourism revenue. Amid a regional homelessness crisis, Anaheim is taking a controversial course of action over its increasingly visible population. Over the past couple months, the city has been removing benches from bus stops along its main tourist thoroughfare, abutting Disneyland. “We had folks that basically were staying at these shelters,” Mike Lyster, an Anaheim city spokesperson, said. Lyster said the decision to remove the benches had nothing to do with Disneyland, or a concern that tourists coming out of the park would be put off by seeing people sleeping at the bus stops.

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