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Encampment of Homeless Wins Week Reprieve

March 19, 1994

HUNTINGTON BEACH — A group of homeless people who have lived in an elaborate, furnished encampment under the San Diego Freeway--some for as long as five years--persuaded a judge Friday to let them stay at least another week.

A few hours after the legal victory, several acres across the street from the encampment burned. No one was injured and no property was lost. Authorities say they suspect arson.

Transients at the encampment, dubbed "Club Homeless," had been confronted Wednesday by California Department of Transportation workers and law enforcement authorities and told to find somewhere else to live.

Several camp residents at the Beach Boulevard off-ramp filed a lawsuit in Orange County Superior Court, saying that Caltrans cannot kick them out of the place they have called home for years, and which includes a walled bathroom and closets.

On Friday, Judge Helen Thomas issued a temporary restraining order and said she will hear arguments from both sides Friday.

"Caltrans . . . allowed them to live on their property," said Paul M. Gray, the attorney representing the homeless people. "They have to get them some reasonable accommodations."

But Albert Miranda, a Caltrans spokesman, said the agency never gave homeless people permission to camp under the freeway.

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