COSTA MESA, Calif. – Army veteran Don Matyja was getting by on the streets of Costa Mesa until he got ticketed for smoking in the park.
Matyja had trouble paying the fine and now he says a $25 penalty has ballooned to $600.
The ticket is one of many new challenges facing the homeless in Orange County, where a number of cities have recently passed ordinances that ban everything from smoking in the park to leaning bikes against trees.
The laws echo what homeless advocates say is an unprecedented spike in such rules nationwide as cities struggle with how to address homelessness with tight budgets.
The homeless say the rules are intended to push them out of one city and into another by criminalizing their daily activities.