Anaheim Squatter Is Spared the Boot

Times Staff Writer

The Orange County Water District has postponed evicting a homeless man who's spent nearly two decades living in a garden he created along the bank of the Santa Ana River in Anaheim.

Ron Wildermuth, a water district spokesman, said the agency, which had planned to evict gardener Richard Dumke on Thursday, will instead take action next week. The water district contends Dumke's homestead "establishes a bad precedent."

In the meantime, Dumke's attorney, Tina Locklear, said she has helped Dumke sort out mementos and other items of sentimental value and has placed them in a rented storage facility.

Dumke, 60, who has been living near the river at Imperial Highway, has crafted an arboretum with a koi pond, bird feeders and about 250 fruit and pine trees, shrubs and exotic plants.

Though the First Baptist Church in Buena Park has offered Dumke shelter, Locklear said she is trying to find him housing locally so he can keep his janitor's job.

A fund to help Dumke has been started at a bank, Locklear said. Those interested in donating can make a contribution to the Help Richard Dumke fund in care of Washington Mutual, 5791 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, Anaheim, CA 92807.

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